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MPs pull double shift ahead of Eid holidays

Speaker Nasheed decided to hold sittings at night.



Lawmakers are working overtime to clear a backlog of bills and resolutions ahead of a week-long break for the Hajj and Eid al-Adha holidays.

At the start of Monday’s sitting, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed announced his intention to hold sittings at night in order to wrap up debate on as many agenda items as possible. Two sittings a day would be held until the agenda is cleared, the former president said.

Under the standing orders, sittings are normally held in the morning from Monday to Wednesday. Night sittings were previously only scheduled on special occasions to vote on urgent matters.

Pending items include a new fisheries law proposed by the government and approving members to the Anti-Corruption Commission. The legislative process for bills and resolutions involves a preliminary debate followed by a committee review and a final vote on the floor.

Three resolutions submitted by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party MPs were passed at Monday morning’s sitting. The non-binding resolutions called on the government to set up offshore fishing platforms, authorise foreign vessels to purchase catch from local boats within Maldivian territorial waters, and to establish island-level fish processing plants through public-private partnerships initiated by local councils.

During Monday night’s sitting, lawmakers debated a motion without notice submitted by opposition MP Mohamed Saeed over alleged threats made by the home minister to the former chief of the anti-corruption watchdog.

At Tuesday morning’s sitting, MPs voted unanimously to approve a report compiled by the economic affairs committee, which recommended legal changes to make it mandatory for resorts to levy at least 10 percent as a service charge.

The Employment Act presently mandates employers that levy a service charge to distribute the previous month’s proceeds to employees after deducting not more than one percent of the total amount as an administrative fee.

As the law does not mandate imposing a service charge, some resorts do not make the payment to workers, MPs said during the debate, backing a review of the law to ensure uniformity in the tourism industry.

MPs also approved signing the ‘United Nation’s Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting From Mediation.’ Following parliament’s approval, the treaty will be signed on Thursday at a ceremony in Singapore, according to the president’s office.

The convention aims to “facilitate the smooth flow of trade between signatory states by standardising international commercial dispute settlement mechanisms, from the compiled agreements between states pertinent to commercial dispute resolution.”

Parliament is due to resume at 9pm on Tuesday night.