The government was scrambling to clarify its position on firing more than 70 senior staff at the finance ministry after a top official resigned.
Permanent Secretary Ali Manik, the finance ministry’s top civil servant, tendered his resignation on Wednesday when he was ordered to fire more than 70 of his staff and dissolve crucial departments including the internal audit section.
The orders came from the president’s office.
Following Manik’s resignation, the president’s spokesman, Ibrahim Muaz Ali, rushed to assure senior “technical staff” that they would be given jobs elsewhere.
He claimed the order for dismissals was part of a re-structuring policy following a performance audit by the president’s office.
“There are certain departments within the ministry that does not have any functions under the new framework. Those departments will be dissolved.”
There are some 379 civil servants and 14 political appointees at the finance ministry.
An employee who wished to remain anonymous said her colleagues are angry and apprehensive as no one is sure who is slated for dismissal. “We are hearing there is a list of more than 70 employees and entire departments, such as the budget and economic planning section.”
“Even when Muaz says technical staff will be transferred, which level is he referring to? We think this is a ploy by the president’s office to centralize all of our work. To tell you the truth, they don’t even let us work at all. We did a strategic action plan based on the election manifesto, but we are not allowed to implement it. The president’s office wants to take care of everything, but I doubt if they have the capacity to do so.”
Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad meanwhile met with his staff today and appealed for patience until the matter is resolved, according to the staff. “He said he would defend us.”
Manik was unavailable for comment.
Mohamed Faizal, secretary general of the CSC, said he had no knowledge of the matter.
Jihad was not responding to calls.
International financial institutions have long highlighted the need for downsizing the Maldives’ civil service, which employs some 22,891 people. A large portion of the state budget is spent on wages. But critics of the president’s office’s move say dismissals must come through transparent processes.
Meanwhile, President Abdulla Yameen has been criticised for the large number of political appointees. There are some 682 political appointees.
Additional reporting by Zaheena Rasheed