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News in brief: Australian arrested with cocaine

Parliament vets nominees for commissioner general of taxation.



Customs foil drug smuggling attempt

A 66-year-old Australian man en route from Brazil was arrested while attempting to smuggle more than US$1 million worth of cocaine, the Maldives Customs Service said on Monday.

The man arrived in the Maldives on October 1 and customs officers found 4.67 kilos of drugs in his luggage, the street value of which was estimated to exceed MVR16 million.

The drugs tested positive for cocaine and was handed over to the police along with the Australian. According to customs, more than 33 kilos of drugs have been confiscated by customs officials so far this year.

Human rights commissioner faces dismissal

A parliamentary committee has launched an impeachment inquiry against a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives.

Moosa Ali Kaleyfaanu is accused of embezzling MVR1.4 million while he was the director general of the National Disaster Management Center between 2007 and 2010. He was arrested under embezzlement charges in 2013 and along with eight others involved in the scam was charged.

But he was appointed to the HRCM in 2015 by former president Abdulla Yameen.

Parliament’s human rights committee, which is mandated with oversight over the watchdog, brought the matter to the attention of the speaker. At the start of Monday’s sitting, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed announced that the committee has launched a probe with the likely outcome of removing Moosa Ali from the independent commission.

Two nominees for tax commissioner


A parliamentary committee on Monday was tasked with vetting two candidates nominated by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for the vacant post of commissioner general of taxation at the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority.

Fathuhulla Jameel was a former director at MIRA and Ismail Nashid is presently an assistant commissioner of customs.

The president also forwarded eight names to be considered for the deputy commissioner general of taxation.

Parliament’s independent institutions committee will interview and evaluate the nominees and make recommendations ahead of a vote in the floor. 

The tax administration law was amended in September to change the composition of MIRA’s seven-member governing board. The revised law required the president to appoint a new commissioner and deputy commissioner within 30 days of ratification. However, the period expired on October 12.

President establishes Tradenet Maldives Corporation

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Sunday established a new 100 percent government-owned company called Tradenet Maldives Corporation Ltd.

The company will serve as “a ‘Single Window’ operator for complete business-related services under a single roof,” according to the president’s office.

September revenue falls below forecast

Total revenue of MVR1.2 billion (US$77.8 million) collected in September was 13 percent below forecast and down 3.2 percent from the same period last year, according to a monthly report released by the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority on Sunday.

“Despite the increment in [Goods and Services Tax, Business Profit Tax] and Tourism Land Rent, collection of September 2019 decreased slightly compared to September 2018, due to the negative variance contributed from the Land Acquisition and Conversion Fee. One-off payments for newly leased islands were received in September 2018,” the tax authority explained.

“Compared to the projection, revenue of September 2019 declined significantly, due to the non-payment of GST, Green Tax and Tourism Land Rent to the deadline.”

Out of MVR24 million projected for the year, government revenue stood at MVR17.8 billion as of October 3, according to weekly fiscal developments released by the finance ministry.

Contractor enlisted to build warehouses in Thilafushi

A local construction company was enlisted last week to build warehouses in the Thilafushi industrial island near the capital Malé.

SJ Construction was contracted by the state-owned Greater Malé Industrial Zone Ltd to build 34 warehouses in 30 days at a cost of MVR9.5 million, according to media reports.

The government decided to relocate warehouses with hazardous or flammable chemicals to Thilafushi after a fire in a chemical storage warehouse in the capital’s Henveiru ward caused the death of a 46-year-old woman and displaced more than 400 people.

The Greater Malé Industrial Zone Ltd decided to award the project without a bidding process to expedite the relocation but a bid announcement was made in the face of public criticism and allegations of corruption. SJ Construction was chosen from among 19 companies that submitted bids.

World Bank launches public survey

The World Bank launched an online public survey in the Maldives last Thursday for its for its second Systematic Country Diagnostic, seeking views on what Maldivians consider the most important issues and opportunities facing the country.

The Systematic Country Diagnostic “forms the basis of the Country Partnership Framework, the strategy which outlines how the World Bank Group’s engagement with the country can best contribute towards achieving the goals of ending absolute poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner,” the World Bank explained.

The online surveys are open from October 10 to November 15 in both English and Dhivehi. The surveys will be complemented by “focused group discussions with representation from public and private sectors, as well as civil society organisations.” The World Bank also launched the first dedicated country Twitter handle for the Maldives.

The first SCD in 2016 identified ways to develop tourism and fisheries and recommended adjusting a more equitable development model.

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