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Great government giveaway continues as water fines waived

Fines have also been waived for fishermen, tenants and motorists.



A state-owned utility company Thursday waived fines incurred over the late payment of water bills, announcing the move three days before a presidential election.

The government has been munificent in recent months – waiving fines for fishermen, motorists and tenants – and has been accused by the opposition of trying to unfairly influence votes ahead of Sunday’s poll.

The Maldives Water and Sewerage Company said the waiver was designed to make people’s lives easier.

“We want to inform our customers that a regulation has been introduced to waive fines imposed on customer’s bills under the government policy of making citizens’ lives easier, and we have decided to start implementing it starting today (Thursday),” it said.

Also on Thursday, the government promised social housing to everyone who applied for it and to slash interest rates on social housing loans by half.

The announcement was made at the inauguration of a social housing scheme in Villimalé, local media reported.

Housing is a hot-button issue in the Maldives, where around 40 percent of the country’s population is squeezed onto the capital island.

Hiyaa was launched last November and consists of 36 towers, with apartments to house 80,000 people in Hulhumalé. Hiyaa Accomplished was announced in July to develop “a second city” near the capital.

“[President Yameen] said he gives full guarantee that those who have submitted forms so far, or submit before the end of this month, will get flats,” Housing Minister Mohamed Muizzu said. “He asked me to tell all Maldivian citizens that he will not leave anyone behind.”

The great government giveaway has also extended to criminals.

This week the president commuted the sentences of those convicted in absentia before August 2013. Maldives Correctional Service declined to disclose their identities to media.

Rules under the Clemency Act were changed so presidential pardons could be granted to prisoners who have not served half of their prison terms for drug offences.

Last month the rules were changed again by the President’s Office, to make inmates who have pending criminal charges eligible for a pardon if more than a year has passed since the charges were raised.

File photo of Malé