Business & Tourism
Minivan Brief: MVR1bn paid out as compensation
A roundup of the day’s top stories.
- Parliamentary inquiry proposed into February 2012 transfer of power
- Income tax proposals revealed
- Whistleblower protection law passed
Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer appeared at parliament on Tuesday after MP Abdulla Jabir tabled a question about projects completed since the current administration took office last November. The minister answered followup questions on other issues including foreign aid and compensation claims.
- 42 projects worth MVR1 billion (US$64.8 million) completed by the end of September
- 136 new projects worth MVR3.8 billion awarded through national tender
- Some projects at design stage and yet to be mobilised
- 29 projects ongoing on 43 islands financed through foreign and domestic sources, including US$200 million granted by India as budget support and the sale of about MVR300 million worth of treasury bills
- No decision on leasing the new seaplane terminal at Velana International Airport
- The Sovereign Development Fund has grown from US$96.3 million as of September 30, 2018 to US$181 million by October 3 this year
- Work ongoing on drafting legislation for managing the Sovereign Development Fund
- Interest rate of loans offered through US$800 million line of credit from India is 1.5 percent
- MVR24.1 million owed by the defunct Maldives Road Development Corporation to subcontractors paid
- MVR15.2 million loaned to private parties as tsunami relief waived
- MVR1 billion paid out by the state as compensation, including a US$18 million arbitration award to Nexbis, US$30 million payout ordered by Supreme Court to WLT and MVR7 million awarded by Supreme Court as damages for medical negligence
- Foreign aid granted since November 2018 exceeds MVR3.2 billion
- About MVR4 billion allocated for debt servicing this year, of which MVR2.1 billion is interest payments
- Previous administration’s China-funded 7,000-flat social housing project was awarded to Chinese contractor at an “inflated price”
- No direct negotiations so far to bring down the cost
- 2020 budget will include detailed debt sustainability plan
- Economic growth “close to forecasts,” driven by tourism
- Projects awarded to state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company to help recover from 2018 losses of about MVR600 million
- MTCC expected to create jobs and enlist local subcontractors
- New terminal construction ongoing at VIA after work was stalled for two years. Disputes with financing agencies resolved through high-level talks.
The government proposes progressively taxing personal income above MVR40,000 a month, the finance ministry revealed.
- MVR40,000 to MVR60,000 – eight percent
- MVR60,000 to MVR100,000 – 10 percent
- MVR100,000 and beyond – 15 percent
The threshold was above the MVR10,833 recommended by the International Monetary Fund, tax policy consultant Arshad Jameel told the press. The tax base is expected to be about 6,000 people and the estimated annual revenue is MVR680 million, he said.
Parliament’s government oversight committee sought legal advice from the counsel general on launching an inquiry into the transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
The committee took up a letter sent by a member of public asking for a parliamentary inquiry into the alleged coup, a request that MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party were inclined to grant. But chair Mohamed Falah decided to seek advice before calling a vote.
The MDP has long held that former president Mohamed Nasheed – now speaker of parliament – was forced to resign under duress in the wake of a violent mutiny by Specialist Operations police officers and elements of the military.
One of the key players accused in the letter was Jumhooree MP for Dhagethi Mohamed Nazim, a retired colonel and former defence minister who sits in the oversight committee. The dispute over the transfer of power to Nasheed’s vice president was settled by a Commission of National Inquiry agreed upon by all political parties, Nazim said. It happened seven years ago but the committee should go ahead and investigate as MDP MPs appeared to be “caught in emotion” over February 7, he suggested.
A law to protect whistleblowers for the first time in the Maldives was voted through on Tuesday.
The bill was passed unanimously with 70 votes in favour. As pledged during the presidential election campaign, it was submitted by the new government in December.
A whistleblower protection unit would be set up at the Human Rights Commission of Maldives within 21 days after ratification of the law, which also offers immunity from facing criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits for whistleblowers.
The bill proposes a jail term or house arrest up to five years for officials who take action against whistleblowers. Aside from threats and intimidation, whistleblowers would also be protected from being sacked, demoted or relieved of duties. The bill also covers reduction of allowances or working hours and being placed on probation and criminalises disclosing the identity of whistleblowers.