President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih delivered his first Presidential Address at the opening session of the People’s Majlis on 7 Feb 2019 . In his address, he touched upon several key issues and presented the road map for next five years.
Key Highlights of the President’s Address
Journey towards democracy – The President stated that, his administration’s commitment to govern within the confines of the constitution and the laws of the land, every aspect of administering the Maldivian State is geared towards ensuring the rights of the people, establishing social justice and improving livelihoods and wellbeing.
Zero-tolerance to corruption – President said that the people elected him in the hopes of moving away from the culture of corruption and kleptocracy that was poisoning the Maldives , in this way a bill has been submitted to the Majlis to criminalise unlawful acquisition of wealth, which has been designed by the Government to raise the penalties for senior State officials implicated in such cases. He reiterated that there will be no allowance for corruption within this Government, and assured that his administration firmly abides by a policy of zero-tolerance to corruption.
Economic progress – President Solih stated that the government aimed to achieve considerable economic progress within the upcoming five years. In this way, he highlighted that the aim was to increase state reserves to USD 1 billion by the end of his presidential term . 2019 reserve is expected to reach USD 803.4 million compared to USD 757.8 million in 2018. the economic objective of increasing state revenue to MVR 30 billion by the end of his five-year term. The government had received MVR 21.7 billion in grants and revenues by the end of 2018, while public expenditure was at MVR 25.5 billion. Hence, there was a fiscal deficit of MVR 3.8 billion by the end of 2018. The total public debt was MVR 49.7 billion, which constitutes 58 percent of GDP. State revenue for this year is estimated to increase 7.8 percent compared to the previous year and reach MVR 23.3 billion. Tax revenue will constitute a significant proportion of this figure. It would also be possible to maintain the economic growth rate at 7.6 percent and hold inflation at 1.3 percent during the upcoming five years .
Elderly home and Mental Health Center – During his address President has said that , Government is working to develop an ‘elderly home’ for the senior citizens who left without care and also establish National Mental Health Center for the treatment of mental illnesses further he revealed plans to develop additional 4,000 housing units in Hulhumalé, as well as 550 in the outer lying atolls.
Judicial reforms – Judicial reforms are necessary to guarantee the rights of the people and also assure them that justice and freedom will prevail.
Introduction of income tax – Government plans to implement a progressive income taxation system in 2020. Bill would be submitted to the parliament during the course of the year .
Gender equality – President Solih has pledged to increase the number of women in executive positions and also to expand the role of women in decision-making as well as to assure that for the future generation, women are needed to be brought up in a land of equal opportunities.
Juvenile Justice Bill – President Solih said that a Bill on Juvenile Justice is due for submission in the first sitting of the Majlis.
Empower local councils – In an effort to reform the system, the Decentralization Act will undergo rapid amendments to accord additional powers and authorities to the local councils, with the goal to empower the councils to become financially independent and self-sufficient bodies .
Evaluation of laws for the purpose of political gain – President Solih said that the government is undertaking swift evaluation of 11 laws and regulations that had previously been amended for the purpose of political gain and to target opposition politicians. He also said that 14 additional bills have been submitted to the Majlis so far, of which 10 have been ratified.
Sports councilor – President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has said that 200 new positions for sports councilors have been created by the Civil Service Commission and Govt. has also decided to give an allowance of MVR 500,000 to each registered sports association working. Also laid out plan to develop an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Maldives .
Opening new embassies in the five countries – Government is working to establish embassies in South Africa, Russia and America’s capital Washington D.C, as well as a consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore President Solih highlighted the government plans to introduce a bill on Civil Procedures in the Majlis this year, to ascertain the civil justice system on par with international best practices and also strengthening the societal organization of the country so as to bridge the gap between the State and its people. Another Bill on Civil Society Organisations is also being drafted, in order to broaden the role of such organisations in State governance.