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News in brief: US$1.5bn deal signed with Islamic finance corporation

Parliament is looking into custodial abuse and complaints about civil service commissioners.



A US$1.5 billion framework agreement aimed at financing fuel imports was signed on Wednesday between the Maldives government and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), an autonomous entity within the Islamic Development Bank Group.

The agreement was signed by Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer and ITFC CEO Hani Salem Sonbol. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih attended the signing ceremony at the Kurumba Maldives Resort.

The framework agreement would help grow small businesses and “greatly assist the Maldives to manage its foreign exchange needs and enable the establishment of a stronger value chain within the country and between its partners in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) through trade financing programmes targeting the main sectors,” according to the president’s office.

In his remarks, ITFC CEO Sonbol invited the Maldives to formally become a member of the corporation.

“Since its establishment in 2008, ITFC has been a major financier for the Maldives, financing approximately 80 per cent of its energy imports through the State Trading Organisation (STO),” the president’s office said.

The state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company has been enlisted by Centara Hotels and Resort to reclaim three islands in Kaafu atoll for resort development.

The agreement was signed in Bangkok on Tuesday between the Thailand-based Centara Hotels and Resorts CEO Thirayuth Chirathivat and MTCC CEO Hassan Shah.

“Under this agreement, 21 hectares of land from a lagoon in Kaafu Atoll will be reclaimed. Additionally, the scope of work includes shore protection works and the construction of a breakwater, and the project is expected to be completed in 300 days,” the MTCC said.

Parliament has launched an investigation into complaints about members of the Civil Service Commission, an independent institution that acts as the human resources management for the civil service.

The independent institutions oversight committee of parliament has not revealed the nature of the complaints but earlier suggested probing media reports about alleged abuse of power in hiring.

The commission has also been accused of staying silent when politicians forced civil servants to attend ruling party rallies during former president Abdulla Yameen’s administration.

India has released the crew of a Maldivian fishing boat seized in Indian territorial waters.

The Indian government informed the foreign ministry on Monday that the Anbaree boat and its crew will be released, after discussions between foreign ministries. The crew was released late Tuesday.

The boat was reportedly stopped about three miles off the coast of Minicoy island north of the Maldives on Saturday. Following the incident, the fisheries ministry appealed to fishermen to ensure they remained inside Maldivian territorial waters.

Sixteen letters written by convicts outlining concerns and complaints about alleged mistreatment and prison conditions have been forwarded to parliament’s human rights committee, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed announced on Wednesday.

A jail audit earlier this year found that most cells were “unfit for humans.” The government has since formed a committee to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by the jail audit.

Doctors removed the cancerous tissue in a voice box esophageal cancer case for the first time in Maldives.

The surgery at the government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital was successful, IGMH announced. The surgery was led by the first Maldivian oncology surgeon Dr Mohamed Shifan.

A team of 10 medical professionals took part in the six-hour surgery. The 50-year-old patient who was described as a serial smoker is doing well and tests will be conducted to see if any cancerous tissue remains.Dr Shifan told local media that the public was gaining trust in cancer removal surgeries conducted in the Maldives due to successful operations.

Pick-up and drop-off points at the Malé international airport have been changed to manage traffic flow.

Under new changes announced by the airports company the drop-off point is near the international terminal, while the pick-up point is west of the international terminal along with a new U-turn point for vehicles.

‘Mental Health Ambassadors’ have been trained in a programme jointly conducted by NGO Society for Health Education and the Maldives National University’s School of Nursing.

First Lady Fazna Ahmed attended the closing ceremony on Wednesday morning and awarded certificates to 18 participants who completed the training programme.

“The 10-day training programme targeted student nurses and featured topics related to mental health and well-being, mental illnesses, trauma, violence and its effect on vulnerable groups including children, coping mechanisms, emotional well-being and resilience,” according to the president’s office.

“The programme, held as part of a series of events to mark World Mental Health Day 2019, was facilitated by counsellors from SHE.”

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