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.
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.