Police to hire 75 civil assistants as non-uniformed personnel

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has made an announcement in the government gazette on Sunday (June 23) seeking to hire 75 “civil assistants” as non-uniformed personnel for administrative work.

A police media official explained to Minivan News today that the MPS planned to assign all administrative work to civil staff and free up “uniformed police officers for operations.”

While there were civil staff working for police at present, the media official added, uniformed personnel with police training were also carrying out administrative tasks, such as “answering the phone at police stations and writing reports.”

Shifting all administrative work to civil staff would allow uniformed personnel to attend to police work and election security matters ahead of the presidential election in September, the media official said.

According to the criteria listed in the job announcement, interested candidates must have at least two O’ Level C passes, must have passed Dhivehi and Islam, and must not have been convicted of a crime with a punishment prescribed in the Quran or theft, fraud, embezzlement, drug abuse or drug trafficking in the past five years.

In addition, applicants must not have sought treatment or rehabilitation for drug abuse during the past five years and must not be a registered member of a political party.

The deadline for submitting application forms, available on the police website and at the police headquarters, is 4:00pm on July 4.

The civil assistants will be paid monthly wages of MVR 3,470 (US$225) in addition to MVR 1,000 (US$65) a month as a service allowance and 35 percent of the salary as a non-practice allowance.

The new police staff will cost the state MVR 426,300 (US$27,645) a month and MVR 5.1 million (US$330,739) a year.

The announcement seeking 75 civil assistants followed the recruitment of new officers for a “special constabulary” reserve force in May this year.

Reserve force officers were to be paid 85 percent of the salary of a regular police officer of the same rank.

Budget crisis

Following the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012 in the wake of a violent mutiny instigated by officers of the Special Operations (SO) command, more than 1000 police officers were promoted110 new police officers were hired, a housing scheme was introduced for police officers with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.

The additional recurrent expenditure on wages for new police staff comes at a time when the country is facing a budget crisis, with island schools and hospitals understaffed, local councils unable to settle outstanding utility bills, and development projects stalled over lack of funds.

In April, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad sought authorisation from parliament to divert MVR 650 million (US$42 million) allocated for infrastructure projects in the budget to cover recurrent expenditure.

Jihad warned that government offices and independent institutions might be unable to pay salaries or electricity and phone bills if funds were not transferred from the MVR 1.8 billion (US$117 million) Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).

Earlier in April, the cabinet decided to delay implementation of new development projects financed out of the state budget due to shortfalls in revenue.

Moreover, in a report on the Maldivian justice system released in May, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, expressed concern of an impending budget crisis for the judiciary.

“The immediate implications of the budget cuts on the judiciary are appalling. For instance, the Department of Judicial Administration only has funds to pay staff salaries until November 2013 and it had to cancel training this year,” Knaul noted.

“The Civil Court reported that it would not have sufficient funds to pay its staff salaries after October 2013; furthermore, existing budgetary resources would not be sufficient to pay for utilities and facilities after June 2013,” she added.

During the parliamentary debate last year on the state budget proposed for 2013, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs criticised budgeted salary increases for military and police officers as well as plans to hire 800 new personnel for the security services.

The state’s annual wage bill was projected to skyrocket by 37 percent in 2013 as a result of hiring more employees.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla claimed during the budget debate that the police and army hired 250 and 350 new staff respectively in 2012.

Consequently, the institutions spent more than MVR 75 million (US$4.8 million) in addition to the approved budgets for 2012, she claimed.

Meanwhile, in its professional opinion on the budget submitted to parliament, the Auditor General’s Office observed that compared to 2012, the number of state employees was set to rise from 32,868 to 40,333 – resulting in MVR 1.3 billion (US$84.3 million) of additional expenditure in 2013.

This anticipated increase included 864 new staff to be hired by the security services, the Auditor General’s Office noted.