Parliament rejects government’s proposed changes to housing project

Parliament yesterday (December 24) voted to reject government-proposed changes to a project to construct 1,500 housing units that is being funded through a loan from the Chinese EXIM bank.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid cast the tie-breaking vote after the vote on approving a Finance Committee report recommending the approval of changes proposed by the government was tied 33-33.

The government had proposed shifting 704 housing units to Hulhumale’ from four southern atolls as originally planned under the US$154.3 million project.

The loan was approved by parliament on December 29, 2011, but submitted for approval again by the new administration with the proposed changes.

During the debate on the committee report, government-aligned MPs representing constituencies in the southern atolls objected to scrapping planned housing units in Addu City and Fuvahmulah.

Meanwhile, parliament also rejected a motion submitted by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir accusing President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik of violating MPs’ privileges.

Jabir claimed that President Waheed had told islanders during a tour of Ghaaf Dhaal atoll that they should obstruct their MP from visiting the island.

The motion was defeated 39-25 with one abstention. Following the vote, Dr Waheed tweeted: “Appreciate the trust shown in me by the majority of Parliamentarians today. I thank you all.”


Parliament to investigate alleged violation of MPs privileges

MPs voted 32-26 in favour of a proposal by Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed to investigate a supposed violation of MPs special privileges by a group of social activists who put up posters of MPs across Male’ with their phone numbers.

Under the proposal voted through yesterday, the parliamentary Privileges Committee has been tasked with conducting an inquiry into the alleged violation and decide whether to ask police for an official investigation.

Last week, Riyaz submitted a motion without notice claiming that a civic action campaign against controversial Rf20,000-a-month committee allowances approved last year violated MPs’ special privileges.

A loose association of concerned citizens and members of local NGOs launched a campaign in late August after parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) decided to issue a lump sum of Rf140,000 (US$9,000) as committee allowance back pay for January through July this year.