Immigration Controller moved to Housing Ministry, new controller appointed

President Abdulla Yameen has today appointed Mohamed Anwar of Galolhu Sinamalé as controller of immigration and emigration.

According to a tweet from the presidential spokesman Hassan Ali, who held the post of immigration controller until he was replaced by Anwar, was changed to the post of deputy minister of housing and environment.

The immigration department was recently reallocated to the Ministry of Economic Development, having been under the Ministry of Defence and National Security since December 2012.

Haveeru has also reported that the government has sent Adhil Moosa’s name to the privatisation board to be appointed as the Maldives Airports Company’s (MACL) managing director. Adhil currently serves as the company’s head of investment and finance.

Ibrahim ‘Bandhu’ Saleem was dismissed from the post of managing director of MACL on January 22, with no specific reason given regarding the decision.

President Yameen last week brought changes to a number of ministries and state institutions in the aftermath of Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim’s dismissal as defence minister.


President appoints deputy minister of finance and treasury

President Abdulla Yameen has appointed Imran Salih of Fehivilaage in the island of Hithadhoo in Addu City to the post of deputy minister of finance and treasury.

Local media reports that Salih has a Masters Degree in finance from the International Islamic University of Malaysia and a Bachelors Degree in accounting from the Multimedia University in Malaysia.

According to the President’s Office website, there are currently sixty other political appointees of the deputy ministerial rank.


President Yameen dismisses transport authority chairman, state minister for home affairs

President Abdulla Yameen dismissed Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz and State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed last week, local media reports.

Both men were appointed during the previous administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed and retained under the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) government.

Nafiz – a PPM member – told online news outlet CNM that he was informed that the new government would make senior-level changes before the end of January in line with an agreement on political appointments among coalition parties.

Nafiz was the spokesperson of President Waheed’s campaign last year.

State Minister Abdulla Mohamed is meanwhile a candidate for the Nolhivaram constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections.


Actor Ali Seezan newest addition to government’s list of political appointees

Local Actor Ali Seezan has been appointed as technical advisor to Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb, reports local media.

According to the President’s Office, Seezan was appointed to the position last Thursday with a salary of MVR 15,000 (US$ 972.76) and an additional allowance of MVR 10,000 (US$ 648.50), a total monthly income of MVR 25,000 (US$1,621.27).

Seezan – who is the nephew of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik – has won National Film Awards and Maldives Film Association Award twice and is a member of business tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

He has recently been seen attending President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) rallies.

Minister Adheeb – who was recently pictured in the media with an infamous pair of Armenian brothers linked with drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets and other serious crimes in Kenya – told local newspaper Haveeru that he had no role in the appointment of Seezan.

According to statistics obtained by local media outlet Sun Online, the government is spending MVR 5 million (US$325,000) a month on 136 political appointees, approximately US$4 million a year.

The monthly spend includes 19 Minister-level posts at MVR 57,500 (US$3730), 42 State Ministers (MVR 40,000-45,000, US$2600-2900), 58 Deputy Ministers (MVR 35,000, US$2250), five Deputy Under-Secretaries (MVR 30,000, US$1950) and 10 advisors to ministers (MVR 25,000, US$1620).

President Mohamed Waheed is officially paid (MVR 100,000, US$6500) a month, Vice President Waheed Deen (MVR 75,000, US$4850).

Waheed’s Special Advisor Hassan Saeed, the Chancellor of the National University and the Controller of Immigration are paid at ministerial level.

The country’s 77 MPs are meanwhile paid a base salary of MVR 42,500 (US$2,750) per month, a further MVR 20,000 (US$1,300) per month in allowances for phone, travel, and living expenses, and a further MVR 20,000 in committee allowances.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile criticised President Mohamed Waheed for appointing family members and activists “who took part in the coup that ousted the democratically elected president.”

President Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) was earlier accused of offering illegitimate inducements to join his party to people ranging from youths to employees of government companies, in a bid to shore up the party’s membership base ahead of parliament’s dissolution of parties with less than 10,000 members.

In October 2012, a number of young people came forward and alleged to Minivan News that they were offered government positions, promotions, jobs with salaries of more than MVR 10,000 (US$650) a month, music equipment and even hosted parties, if they joined GIP.

GIP Secretary General Ahmed Mushrif dismissed the allegations at the time as an “outright lie”, and said that the party from its formation had never attempted to add members illegally.

A young Maldivian working in the tourism sector told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that a parliament member and prominent figure in the industry had called him and asked him to sign with GIP “as a favor”.

“He told me that in return for me joining the party, I would be rewarded with a position in the current government that I could never have even imagined. He further tried to convince me that all I needed to do was join the party – I could vote for anybody I wanted,” he said.

Another person who has worked in the civil service for the last 15 years told Minivan News that he was contacted by GIP with a promise that he would “easily be promoted” to a supervisor level job if he joined the party.

“A GIP member called me and told me that I could easily get promoted to supervisor level if I left my current party and joined GIP. Even though I am not an active MDP member I said I would think about it, but later did not respond to his calls,” the civil servant said.

A third person – aged 20 – claimed that he and his group of friends aged around 18 to 22 were approached by GIP through a friend and were invited to the party’s office where they were received by the party’s Deputy Leader  and the former Maldives High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mohamed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki.

“When we arrived we were received by ‘Nazaki’ Zaki and treated with pizza. He said that in return for joining GIP, he would offer each of us a job with a salary not less than MVR 10,000, but asked us not to question where the jobs would be allocated from,” the youngster claimed.

Apart from the job, the source alleged that Zaki had offered him and his friends “music equipment and a place to play for free” to those among them who wished to play music. He added that the group were also promised various entertainment activities such as “hosted shows and parties”.

“They asked us to join the party and work in the party’s youth wing,” the source said.

When they asked what they were supposed to do as members of the party’s youth wing, the source said Zaki had told them that their main task would be to increase the party’s membership as it was “currently very low”.

At the end of the meeting, the high commissioner reportedly suggested the holding of a party event that would be fully funded by GIP.

“They said we should all party sometime. Maybe they said that because we had long hair and looked stylish,” the source suggested.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)


Presidents Office establishes ‘work ethics’ code for political appointees

The President’s Office today announced it had begun implementing a work ethics code for all the political appointees except cabinet ministers.

According to the ethics code published in Dhivehi, those bound by the new ethics code are those appointed under article 115(f) of the constitution, by a letter of appointment from the president or cabinet secretary.

The ethics code dictates the code of conduct of the political appointees, their dress code, work timing and procedures for resignation.

The Section 3(c) states that all appointees ‘should’ accept and respect all policy decisions of the government.

It further includes, “Even if there happens to be a difference of opinion on such a policy, the appointee should refrain from expressing their opinions to individuals, the public and the media, and should refrain from writing about it.”

The Section 3(d) also dictates similar requirements for not expressing views that oppose the policy of the government views that are contrary to the appointee’s responsibilities.

Apart from these restrictions, section 3 also demands that all appointees must maintain government secrets both while employed and after they leave the position.

Section 7 of the ethics code states that all appointees should turn up to work before 8:30 am in the morning except during the month of Ramadan, where the start time is 9:30 am.

Similar to the civil servants, according to the section 8 of the ethics code, appointees are also entitled to a 30 day vacation after one year on the job and 10 days ’emergency’ leave, while female staff are entitled to 60 days maternity leave.

Section 9 of the ethics code demands that all the appointees must dress accordingly and should always be at their best turn out while in public.

The section specifically states that men should wear either short or long sleeve shirts with tie, trousers and shoes for men, while female appointees should be in attire that is acceptable to the government.

The President’s office stated that all the appointees must begin to follow the code from July 1, onwards.

Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said that the government believed that such a work ethics code was important and necessary.

“Political appointees are also paid by the state, so the government believes that there should be some regulations on the work of political appointees,” he said.

He added that there previously there was no regulation regarding the work ethics of the political appointees and that he believed that such regulation would increase the “accountability and public confidence” in the political appointees.

The ethics code is the first of such regulations that has been imposed on political appointees in the country.

The code comes at a time where the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has been under heavy criticism from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who alleged that the appointees are family members and activists who took part in the “coup that ousted the democratically elected president.”

Speaking to Minivan News previously, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said that many appointees were “senior activists in leading the coup d’état.”

“Many of them were present in Republican Square on February 7. They are unqualified and inexperienced,” he said at the time.

However, Riza at the time dismissed the allegations stating that the positions were awarded based on political party affiliation and qualifications, not based on “political activity or their presence at a certain place” which he believed reflected President Waheed’s desire to “formulate a national unity government”.


“Senior activists and coup leaders” among President’s 18 new deputy ministers: MDP

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan  appointed 18 new deputy ministers to 11 ministries on Tuesday.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) criticised the appointments as rewards for participation in the alleged coup d’état of February 7, that saw Mohamed Nasheed resign “under duress”.

“All of these people were senior activists in leading the coup d’état. Many of them were present at the Republican Square on February 7. They are unqualified and inexperienced,” MDP spokesperson and Maafannu Uthuru MP Imthiyaz Fahmy contended.

However, President Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the positions were awarded based on political party affiliation and qualifications, not based on “political activity or their presence at a certain place.”

He also said the appointments reflected President Waheed’s desire to “formulate a national unity government”.

“The law gives him the choice to choose his cabinet. He wanted his cabinet to represent all political parties, and he invited all parties to join the government. And these are the people who joined him,” Riza said.

According to Riza, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Dhivei Qaumee Party (DQP), and the Jumhooree Party (JP) were given three deputy ministerial positions each, while the religious Adhaalath Party was given four seats. President Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) received two seats, and the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) received one seat. The MDP declined to participate.

Waheed also appointed his brother Ali Waheed Hassan Manik as the CEO of National Center for Arts. Managing Director Adam Shareef of the now defunct Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC)’s alleged Ali Waheed had led the take over of MNBC on behalf of Dr Waheed before Nasheed resigned.

Dr Waheed’s new appointments include former prominent opposition activists, DRP media coordinator Ali Solih, Abdulla Rifau and Naaif Shawkath who led a series of opposition-sponsored youth protests in May 2011, Gayoom’s former presidential appointee now DRP registrar Mohamed Saleem (Hoarafushi), Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV reporter Shiham Mohamed Waheed, and Adhaalath Party’s Asadhulla Shafee, who was seen in a leaked video clip at the police headquarters with opposition leaders before Nasheed announced his resignation.

MDP MP Fahmy said the public had voted for an MDP administration, but that Waheed’s appointments represented the interests of former president Gayoom – who had been voted out.

“Waheed has been forced to grant jobs to these activists. He is a mere puppet. He is controlled by Gayoom, his brother Yameen and the businessmen who led the coup,” he said. Fahmy said he believed Gayoom was backing  Waheed in a bid to avoid early elections, which the MDP is confident of winning.

In response, Riza said the 2008 vote had been for a coalition government that included the Jumhooree Party, Dhivehi Qaumee Party and Adhaalath Party. “Calling it an MDP administration simply has no political weight,” he said.

President Waheed appointed Ahmed Shafeeu as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture on Monday, filling up the last post in his cabinet. He also appointed eight state ministers on Tuesday, among them retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Fayaz (Home Affairs), and December 23 protest organiser and spokesperson Abdulla Mohamed (Home Affairs).

Waheed had also appointed Gayoom’s children, Dhunya Maumoon and Ghassan Maumoon to state minister for foreign affairs and state minister for human resources respectively.

Waheed now has 14 ministers, 16 state ministers and 18 deputy ministers. Riza subsequently told local media Haveeru that there would be no further ministerial appointments.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of the Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)


CSC and political appointees: Pay cuts (Part II)

In part two of our comparisons between salaries of political appointees and civil servants, Minivan News examines the pay cuts initiated last year, parliament and the government’s promotion of state-owned companies.

The figures reported by Minivan News yesterday represented the fixed salaries of both political appointees and civil servants. The pay cuts made to salaries last October meant a 20 percent reduction for political appointees and a 15 percent reduction to civil servants’ salaries.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuahir, said starting on 13 May 2010, civil servants and political appointees will get a 7 percent reimbursement from the government, which will go into a pension fund.

“Meaning those who had a 15 percent reduction will now only have an 8 percent reduction,” Zuhair noted.

Most members of the civil service are in the middle management services, who earn anywhere from Rf 7,680 to Rf 10,106 after the pay cuts. This rank includes directors, senior technical officers and deputy and assistant directors.

The wages of Permanent Secretaries have also been queried, as they are civil servants working for political appointees. They are not in the regular structure but are linked to deputy ministers.

Their fixed salaries were originally of Rf 20,500 plus Rf 15,000 for allowances. After the 20 percent pay cut which started in October 2009, they now earn a total of Rf 28,400 a month. This makes permanent secretaries the highest paid members of the civil service, followed by professors who now earn Rf 20,280 after the pay cuts.

Civil servants and political appointees

The figures obtained by Minivan News show the highest number of political appointees are island councillors, with 168 across the country. After the pay cuts, they are making Rf 9,600. In total, the government is spending Rf 1,612,800 per month on island councillor’s salaries alone.

The figures also show that 35 state ministers and 55 deputy ministers are currently working for the government. State ministers are currently being paid Rf 37,600 a month, while deputy ministers get  Rf 28,400 per month, after the 20 percent salary reductions.

Together, the wages for state and deputy ministers add up to Rf 2,878,000 per month.

Despite Parliament’s decision to pass the decentralisation bill without the provinces act, and the government’s promise to reduce political appointees, former Utility Development Director at the President’s Office, Ahmed Nasheed, was appointed Deputy Minister of State for the South-Central Province yesterday.

His wages bring the figure up to Rf 2,906,400 each month.

Government-owned companies

Another point of contention has been the creation of government-owned companies which have been transferred from the civil service, such as the Malé Health Services Corporation.

Those who are critical of the salary cuts for civil servants have argued the government is still technically paying the wages of those working in these companies, which means government expenditure on wages has not reduced.

Zuhair said the creation of these companies was not only to reduce the civil service, but “it is also a more practical model.”

He said these companies are “self-sufficient and depend on earnings as a commercially viable business,” and are now relying more on Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) than on government subsidies.

Zuhair noted although many state-owned companies such as STELCO were receiving government subsidies in the past, new policies mean they will not be subsidised any more. “MNBC salaries were given out based on revenue,” he added.


MPs are currently earning Rf 62,500 a month, and are among the few sectors paid by the state who did not take a pay cut last year.

Parliamentary sittings take place three days a week, and there are three Parliament sessions a year. The sessions are held for three months and are followed by a one-month break.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Hoarafushi, Ahmed Rasheed, said he would not support a reduction to MPs’ salary cuts because he is always helping his constituents by giving them money of his salary. “I am not using a single rufiyah from my salary,” he said. “Last month, I spent Rf 134,600 for my island’s people. When you look at it like that, 62,500 is not much.”

Rasheed said this money was used mostly for medical purposes, including bills from IGMH and even air fares to Sri Lanka for medical treatment.

He said people from his island “are very poor, and right now they don’t know what to do.”

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP for Galolhu South, Ahmed Mahlouf, said if the economic situation was really that bad, “then yes, of course we would agree with lowering our salaries.” But, he said, “DRP and other opposition MPs don’t believe that the salary of any servant should be reduced.”

He said “Maldives is not going through such a bad economic stage,” adding that “even during the tsunami salaries weren’t reduced.”

Mahlouf said no one’s salaries should have been reduced, and “if we agreed to reduce it, it would mean we agree with the economic situation being that bad. That is why we are fighting for their rights.”


CSC and political appointees: what they get paid (Part I)

Eight months after civil servants got their first pay cut, the political situation has deteriorated with law suits between the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Ministry of Finance.

President Mohamed Nasheed promised to reduce government expenditure, primarily by reducing the civil service and increasing privatisation in the country, and several privatisation partnerships are seeing the transfer of posts from the civil service to government-owned institutions.

Many opposed to the civil servant salary cuts have speculated about the amount paid to political appointees, arguing that it is unfair to cut civil servant salaries while paying large salaries and allowances to appointees. Minivan News has obtained the figures from both sides for the sake of comparison.

The civil service VS political appointees

The Maldivian government is currently spending approximately Rf 5 billion on civil servant salaries per year, approximately 74 percent of the Rf 6.8 billion budget. There are over 29,000 civil servants in the Maldives, comprising almost 10 percent of the population.

Documents obtained by Minivan News show that comparatively the government spends approximately Rf 173 million on the salaries of 354 political appointees per year, and around Rf 75.8 million on salaries for 77 MPs each year.

Labourers earn Rf 4,100 a month with the civil service, the lowest paying job in the CSC. The lowest paying job for political appointees is that of island councillors, who make Rf 12,000 a month.

The highest paying job under the CSC is that of a professor, with earnings of Rf 25,350 a month. Excluding the president and vice president, who earn Rf 100,000 and Rf 75,000 a month respectively, cabinet ministers earn Rf 57,500 a month.

The special envoy for science and technology, for example, earns Rf 45,000 a month, while an assistant professor under the CSC makes Rf 20,920 a month.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, said although political appointees get a higher salary, civil servants have better job security “since they have unlimited tenure.”

On the other hand, he said, political appointees can serve a maximum of ten years in their post, “unless they keep jumping parties,” since a government can only hold two five-year terms.

“A political appointee will fall with the government,” Zuhair added. “But a civil servant can serve for forty, fifty years.”

He said political appointees also have a more authoritative role than civil servants, justifying a higher salary: “If they are not in an authoritative role, how can they be effective?”

Zuhair said political appointees comprise less than two percent of the civil service, and they are the ones “who supervise and ensure the civil servants do their jobs.” Hence, they deserve a higher salary, he added.

Additionally, he said, not all political appointees are “appointed. Some of them are elected.”

One of President Nasheed’s campaign promises was reducing the “top-heavy” government by reducing the number of political appointees, and according to Zuhair, there are fewer political appointees under this government than the previous one.

Minivan News reported in April last year there had been 440 political appointees under former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s government, and at the time, there were 538 political appointees under President Nasheed’s government.

Zuhair told Minivan News today that when the civil service was created in 2007, the former government transferred many of its appointees to posts in the civil service “so in case they lost the election, they still have many people with them.”

He added the former government was “not counting right” and their numbers “weren’t technically correct,” as they had everyone, including muezzins, working for them as political appointees.

In mid-March 2010, Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed requested a list of political appointees and their salaries from the Ministry of Finance, to clarify exactly how many appointees were working under the government.

Another of President Nasheed’s promises was to reduce the civil service and thus reduce government expenditure. The health sector is one of the first industries to go through this transition.

Member of the CSC, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, said there have been many posts which have been abolished from the CSC and transferred to independent institutions, such as TV Maldives and and newly formed Maldives Health Services Corporation.

“The number of civil servants will be less now,” Fahmy said, “but the question is, how do you define public service?”


Ministry of Finance asked to provide list of political appointees

Minister of Finance and Treasury Ali Hashim was asked today to provide the Parliament with details of the number of political appointees, their titles and salaries under the current government.

Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed requested the information from the minister.

He said there had been a “war on words” regarding the number of political appointees in both the former and current governments, with some people saying there were as many as 600 appointees while others claimed there were fewer than 300.

“There has always been a comparison between this government and the previous one,” Nasheed said, referring to one of the things the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) criticised most about the former government: that it was =‘top heavy.’

Nasheed said he did not ask Minister Hashim for a list of cabinet members or even for the VP’s salary, only for the number of appointees, but the minister “is providing more than I asked for.”

State Minister of Finance Ahmed Assad said the Ministry of Finance would provide Parliament with the list of appointees soon since “there is no reason to withhold it.”

Whether or not the list would become a matter of public knowledge, he said, was “for Parliament to decide.”

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Visaam Ali said the DRP was “really concerned” about the number of political appointees under the current government.

She said she was not only concerned about the government being “top heavy” but was worried because “they advocated different views” during their election campaign in 2007.

“What they are doing is different to what they promised the people,” Visaam said. “They promised the people an MDP government would be different.”

She added that the number of political appointees is even “worse than under the previous government” and there are more political appointees now earning higher salaries that they were under Gayoom’s government.

MDP Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem said government appointees “are not an issue” for the party, but issues dealing with civil servants were a major priority.

Haleem said during the 2007 presidential campaign, MDP had told the people they wanted the government of Maldives to be smaller.

“The former government had over 1,000 political appointees,” claimed Haleem. “Now we have just over four hundred.”