Parliament approved Wednesday a pay hike for city councillors after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih restored powers and responsibilities stripped from city councils by his predecessor.
The mandate of city councils had been reduced in early 2015 to issuing birth and death certificates and maintaining the registry of residents after former president Abdulla Yameen transferred other municipal services to the housing ministry.
As pledged during his campaign, President Solih handed back management of public spaces, parks, mosques, and roads to the city council in December, after which parliament’s public accounts committee was asked to review the salary and allowances of councillors in light of the wider mandate.
A recommendation by the committee to hike the mayor’s monthly salary to MVR40,000 (US$2,600), the deputy mayor’s to MVR35,000 and other councillor’s to MVR30,000 was passed unanimously with 35 votes in favour.
According to the oversight committee’s chair MP Ahmed Nashid, the finance ministry did not object to the proposed hike.
“The finance ministry advised us there would be no impact on the budget and that it could be managed,” he said, presenting the committee report to the floor.
Other services presently provided by city councils include leasing plots of land for commercial or social use, investing in such properties, registering land and buildings, keeping records of real estate transactions, and maintaining a registry of expatriates.
During the former administration, the ruling party-dominated parliament controversially amended the decentralisation law to authorise the president to determine the public service to be provided by city councils.
A third of the council’s employees were transferred to the housing ministry and the Malé City Council also struggled to find office space after being forced to leave two previous properties.
Pay cuts of more than 50 percent for Malé and Addu city councillors – most of whom belonged to the then-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party – were approved in October 2015 following the transfer of the powers and responsibilities to the housing ministry.
More core functions of the opposition-dominated councils were taken away in July 2018.
In the last municipal elections in May 2017, the MDP won 12 out of 13 seats on Malé City Council, all seven seats on Addu City Council and two out of three seats on the Fuvahmulah City Council.