President Abdulla Yameen today delivered his first presidential address in the parliament’s first official session after recess.
President Yameen detailed his administration’s achievements – claiming success in all the 100-day initiatives.
He explained that the executive had now drafted a legislative agenda for the next five years which would be gradually submitted to parliament in the form of draft bills.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has described the address as “taciturn and rather nonsensical”, arguing that major issues such as the Supreme Court and the recent HIV scandal at IGMH were ignored.
Opening the ceremony, Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid noted that this was first instance where an MP has been unable to attend the presidential address due to incarceration, referring to MP Abdulla Jabir.
Shahid also condemned the attack on MDP MP Alhan Fahmy, calling for the cessation of all acts against the implementation of rule of law and legal obligations. Alhan attended today’s ceremony returning from Sri Lanka where he underwent spinal surgery following his February stabbing.
The president began his address by noting that, although national debt would increase this year to MVR31 billion, the debt percentage can be maintained at 78 percent of GDP in 2014.
Yameen said that the government had decided to construct a youth city in Hulhumalé and that physical work on construction of a bridge connecting capital city Malé to the airport island Hulhulé will begin before the end of the year.
He added that once the development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Hulhumalé is completed, it can be maintained for use for a duration of at least 50 years, and that the construction of two new airports – in Kulhudhuhfushi and Felivaru – have now been opened for bidding.
Yameen also spoke of the need to strengthen investor confidence, and pledged to eradicate all obstacles and difficulties currently faced by foreign investors.
Yameen noted that the number of tourist arrivals had already increased to 348,000 in the past three months, stating that this added US$70 million to government earnings. He added that the government intended to introduce tourism to atolls currently not involved in the sector.
Regarding the fisheries sector, Yameen stated that a system has been put in place where fishermen who earn less than MVR10,000 a month will be given financial aid from the state. He added that this will commence in a period of two months.
He also pledged that scholarship schemes will be offered in the near future to students who pass a minimum of three GCE Advanced Level subjects.
On the topic of health services, Yameen stated that arrangements are being made to introduce new health facilities – including ambulance speedboats – to the country. He added that an initiative has now begun where existing health institutions are being categorised and supplied with the necessary medical equipment.
The president said that the government would shortly submit a bill to parliament seeking to provide financial aid to persons with special needs,as well as a bill seeking the establishment of special economic zones within the country.
MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy described President Yameen’s address as ignoring many pressing issues, suggesting that he appeared “disconnected with what is happening here and now”.
“To begin with, the whole country is appalled and in shock about the HIV infected blood transfusion at IGMH which recently came to be known of. And yet, there was no apology or even a mention of the matter,” said Fahmy
Fahmy suggested that the president spend excessive time discussing administrative issues such as queues outside government offices and phones not being answered efficiently at the expense of issues of wider importance, such as the judiciary.
“This is something the whole world is talking about, that our judiciary needs to be reformed. And yet, Yameen did not even mention them,” Fahmy continued.
“He also failed to condemn the way the Elections Commission is being unconstitutionally dragged to the Supreme Court at a time when there is an election looming overhead.”
The party’s official response will be delivered via the Majlis.