President Abdulla Yameen has blamed slow progress in the construction of sports stadiums and mosques on an alleged lack of construction companies in the Maldives.
“Our problem is that even if we set a budget of MVR300million for sports … we don’t have the capacity to absorb the allocated funds. The Maldives does not have enough companies to construct all the sports fields,” he said last night at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of some 30 futsal fields.
“We could award the construction of 20, 30 fields to a company. But there are only two or three Maldivian companies to do the work… This is a challenge we face not just in the sports sector, but in other infrastructure sectors,” he said.
The opposition has censured Yameen’s administration for slow progress in fulfilling pledges, countering the government’s slogan of “amaaz yageen” or guaranteed goals with the slogan “amaaz laahoorey” or aimless goals.
Facilitating opportunities for young Maldivians is a cornerstone of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) manifesto.
The government has allocated funds to complete 42 sports arenas in inhabited islands in this year’s budget. Funds to commence work on an additional 33 arenas were also allocated.
Each arena, which is to consist of a futsal field and a bashi court, costs approximately MVR5million (US$324,000).
Yameen said that only a few companies such as the state owned wholesaler State Trading Organization (STO) and the Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) and the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) were able to carry out multiple projects.
The government has not been able to even lay the foundation for many infrastructure projects, he said. Funds have been mobilized as expected only in harbor dredging projects, he said, and added in a jovial tone: “Maybe that’s because in deepening harbors, we do not know what happens to all the money that’s put into it.”
State owned MTCC has been granted some 54 projects, which include harbor construction and road construction, for a total price of MVR2.2billion.
Yameen also attempted to deflect criticism over his infrequent visits to the islands by saying: “It is not easy for us to travel to the islands to inaugurate every single futsal stadium.”
The 30 futsal stadiums had been completed through out the year, and Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had attended inauguration ceremonies in most of the islands.
He also reiterated his claim that the government has created some 50,000 jobs in the past two years. Yameen had pledged to create 94,000 jobs in his five-year term.
“We can only facilitate opportunities. We have created 45,000 jobs. It is not just me who is saying that, but minister Zuhoor as well. Minister Saeed is now vacating foreigners from Maldivian jobs. So we are opening up opportunities for Maldivians in many sectors, in many classes of jobs. Shop keepers, barbers, and in the arts such as photography and music, exclusive for Maldivians. We want Maldivian youth in these jobs. We are creating opportunities for young Maldivians. I cannot tell you the name and address of the young people who are filling these jobs,” he said, referring to a letter by an opposition MP requesting details of the added jobs.
In November last year, Yameen said the government had created 17,000 jobs.
Yameen pledged to give out entrepreneurship loans to young Maldivians every year under the Get Set loan scheme.