MDP condemns restriction of powers of local councils

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has strongly condemned a decision by the government requiring local councils to seek permission directly from the president for conducting transactions involving state-owned land.

In a press release yesterday, the main opposition party said it was “extremely concerned” with moves by the current administration to restrict and limit powers and authority of island, city, and atoll councils.

As conducting transactions involving plots of land under council jurisdiction was one of the main tasks of local councils, the party contended that the government’s intention was to undermine the system of decentralisation introduced by the landmark Decentralisation Act in 2010 through devolution of decision-making powers.

The decision would undermine the authority to generate income and own land granted to local councils by the constitution, the MDP statement added.

Articles 234 and 235 states that local councils shall have the authority to “raise funds” and “own property and incur liabilities”.

In June, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure removed two parks from the jurisdiction of the MDP-majority Malé City Council, while Dharubaaruge convention centre was reclaimed by the government in May.