Government formulating roadmap for first 100 days to implement PPM manifesto

A roadmap for the first 100 days of the new administration is being drawn up to implement the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) manifesto and fulfil campaign pledges, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said.

Speaking to press after an impromptu PPM council meeting yesterday (November 18), President Yameen explained that the roadmap would “outline what will begin to be implemented by the 30th or 45th day.”

“Committees have been formed and work has started on implementing what we promised for youth and fishermen in our manifesto,” he said.

The PPM’s campaign pledges include raising the old age pension to MVR5,000 a month, designating a General Practitioner to each family, providing subsidies for fishermen and farmers, and creating more than 90,000 jobs.

At the ongoing budget debate in parliament, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have been calling on the government to incorporate its policies in next year’s budget and fulfil its campaign promises, pledging their assistance and cooperation.

Both opposition and government-aligned MPs agreed that the government should be offered the opportunity to revise the budget based on the PPM manifesto. A budget of MVR16.4 billion (US$1 billion) was submitted by the outgoing administration on October 30.

President Yameen meanwhile told reporters that he has asked Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad to revise recurrent expenditure as “more than a billion could be saved.”

Funds could be reduced from budget items in recurrent expenditures, he said.

Recurrent expenditure of MVR12 billion (US$778 million) – wages, subsidies and administrative costs – accounts for 73 percent of government spending in the proposed budget.

“We will bring big changes to the budget. The budget has to be changed to one that addresses what our parties pledged to do for the public,” he said, referring to the pledges by other parties in the PPM-led coalition.

Other parties in the coalition government include the Jumhooree Party led by business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, the Maldives Development Alliance led by tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, former President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party and a number of smaller parties.

The new administration was also in the process of “restructuring” the President’s Office, Yameen said, and all political appointees at the office were dismissed on Sunday (November 17).

Government ministries would follow “the example the President’s Office is showing” to reduce the number of political appointees and posts, he said.

Cabinet ministers would not formulate new policies but focus on implementing the manifesto, he added.

President Yameen also met former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at the President’s Office yesterday.

In a statement following the meeting, Yameen said the PPM leader assured the new administration of political support and assistance through the People’s Majlis.

He expressed confidence in implementing the party’s manifesto with the cooperation of coalition partners as well as the opposition in parliament.

The focus of the new administration was on reducing costs and increasing government income, President Yameen said.

“The aim of our efforts will be to provide at the earliest possible opportunity all the services we assured for the public,” he said.

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PPM manifesto released to criticism over economic plans

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has said the Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) “concerning” proposal to slash the state budget by MVR 4 billion ($259.9 million) lacks critical detail.

PPM released its three-part manifesto on Tuesday (September 3) – just four days before the presidential election.

Cautioning that such a large reduction required careful adjustments, Thasmeen said that the proposed cut would have a negative impact on development projects and subsidies, reported Haveeru.

Thasmeen added that minimizing waste and promoting operational efficiency in the government would not yield sufficient funds.

His critique echoed concerns voiced by other MPs, including PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, over last year’s budget cutbacks.

Yameen has promoted himself as being strong on economic policy, with posters across Male’ touting him as the electorate’s best choice for an economic recovery.

Budget cutbacks attracted sharp responses from political parties in December 2012, after Parliament’s Budgetary Review Committee reduced the state budget by MVR2.4 million ($1.5 million).

Government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader and MP Abdullah Mausoom tweeted at the time that the cutbacks were “a deliberate attempt by MDP and PPM to ‘choke’ government and institutions by 2013”.

Yameen – then PPM’s Parliamentary Group Leader and a member of the review committee – observed that, based on the proposed budget cuts, the government’s policies were unclear.

Minivan News was unable to obtain comments from PPM spokespersons at time of press.

PPM Manifesto

The PPM’s ambitious proposals target legislation, administration and infrastructure in multiple areas. The party’s plans include a youth, a sports, and a ‘Yageen’ manifesto – the latter derived from the party’s campaign slogan ‘Yameen Yageen’, or ‘Yameen for Sure’.

The ‘Yageen’  manifesto outlines programmes targeting health, fisheries, decentralization, women’s rights, national security, agriculture, transport and tourism.

According the sports manifesto, athletic programs would receive new facilities and equipment, complemented by legislation to develop young talent. Sports administration would be facilitated by a Sports Act and a Maldives Sports PLC in partnership with all national sports associations, which would draft agreements to pay professional players.

The manifesto also states that all islands would receive a sports arena and Hulhumale’ would be developed as a youth entertainment city, including a National Aquatic Centre of olympic scale. Taxes on sports materials would be reduced from 25 to 5 percent.

According to the ‘Yageen’ manifesto, policies on education would expand teaching of the Quran and arabic language throughout the curriculum, and offer both expanded vocational and higher education opportunities. Educational centers would benefit from teacher training, expanded space, improved counseling services, and “modern libraries” equipped with digital facilities.

On the subject of women’s rights, the manifesto proposes subsidized childcare system, allowing women to work from home through the internet, and connecting them to employers. Gender quotas in the political arena and leadership skills courses for girls are also included, intended to equalize the workplace gender balance.

Other proposals include reviewing national legislation on women, particularly in the areas of marriage and divorce, property, and crime.

To build connectivity within and between atolls, the PPM “ensures” that every island will have access to air transport through regional airports, to be complemented by a ferry network. The party states that, in addition to expanding the services of Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) and Island Aviation, it will invite private companies to operate transport facilities.

The manifesto did not detail budgetary provisions for these proposals.

Download the manifestos in Dhivehi.

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