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News in brief: Single-parent allowance and tenants rights

A Maldives embassy was opened in Thailand.



Cap on single-parent allowance raised to MVR10,000

The ceiling of the monthly single-parent allowance has been raised from MVR3,000 (US$200) to MVR10,000 (US$650) after cabinet deliberations on Tuesday.

After the decision was widely misreported, the National Social Protection Agency explained on Wednesday that the rate per child remains unchanged at MVR1,000. The rules previously limited the monthly allowance to MVR3,000 even if a single parent was caring for more than three children.

The rules were also revised to provide single parents of children with special needs with both the single-parent allowance and the disability allowance. Whereas a 2009/2010 household income survey was previously used for assessment purposes, the social services ministry would now set a new income threshold to assess poverty levels or means-testing.

The old rules considered households the minimum unit for assessment but the provision was changed to consider the single parent’s immediate family.

Maldives embassy opened in Thailand

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on Wednesday opened the Maldives embassy in Thailand and launched a website for the new diplomatic mission in the capital Bangkok.

“Establishing a resident diplomatic presence in Thailand reflects the deepening bilateral relations between the two countries,” the foreign ministry said, adding that the embassy would “contribute to implementing Maldives’ foreign policy and assist with the provision of consular services to the growing Maldivian diaspora in Thailand.”

Maldives-Thailand cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology, defence and security, education, culture and tourism has been growing and “each area holds massive potential,” the foreign minister said in his remarks at the opening ceremony.

Shahid also met with his Thai counterpart on Wednesday morning. According to the foreign ministry, the pair discussed “various aspects of the bilateral relations” and the minister conveyed greetings on 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He also expressed gratitude for the inclusion of Maldives in the Thai Visa Exemption Scheme for tourists.

Shahid “highlighted the need for Maldives and Thailand to enter into a comprehensive visa waiver agreement to ease travel between the countries” and discussed improving air connectivity to boost tourism. He noted plans by Bangkok Airways to have twice daily flights to Malé starting next year.

“The recent investment of Singha Group was highlighted as a key project that would attract more Thai investments in Maldives,” it added.

Malé Tenants Union registered

A new association called Malé Tenants Union was registered at the community empowerment ministry on Tuesday to campaign for rent control and legal protection for tenants. 

The NGO will advocate on behalf of people living in rented spaces in the congested capital, the MTU said in a press statement, inviting people to join the group. After decades of migration, many families share a single room and most people pay exorbitant rents to live in slum-like conditions.

Applications open for High Court vacancy

The Judicial Service Commission has invited interested candidates to submit applications for two vacancies on the High Court bench.

The vacant posts remained unfilled since amendments were passed to the Judicature Act during the previous administration to increase the size of the bench to 11 judges. The legal changes were made to accommodate a southern and northern branch of the appellate court.

Applications are open until October 21. A first degree in Islamic Shariah or law along with five years of experience as a lawyer or a judge is required for the position. The salary and allowances of a high court judge comes up to MVR54,000 (US$3,505).

National health insurance scheme available in Malaysia

The government’s Aasandha health insurance scheme is now available for Maldivians residing in Malaysia.

The ceiling for coverage is MVR150,000 (US$9735), out of which MVR10,000 can be used for outpatient services and MVR140,000 is earmarked for inpatient services., the Aasandha Company explained  in a statement.

A scheme to cover Maldivians residing overseas was launched in April and now is available in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, under which 65 percent of hospital charges are covered by Aasandha.

According to Aasandha, Maldivians residing in Malaysia will be covered on a reimbursement basis. Copies of bills should be sent to Aasandha along with a reimbursement application within two months of receiving healthcare. Reimbursements will be made within 20 days, the statement said.

City council provides paid parking space 

The Malé City Council on Tuesday rented parking spaces for the first time in the congested capital island. 

A four-wheeled vehicle parking lot on Orchid Magu in front of the presidential residence has been rented to 40 vehicle owners, the council said. More than 100 people applied for the 40 spots, which were awarded through a lottery draw, it noted.

The monthly rent for a car or van parking spot is MVR3,000 (US$200). Owners of 500 to 2,500kg pickup trucks will pay MVR3,500 per month while 2,500 to 5,000kg pickup truck owners will pay MVR4,000 per month.

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