Former Vice President condemns MP Qasim Ibrahim for promoting business interests in parliament

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Former Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has criticized Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim for allegedly promoting his business interests during a meeting of the Parliament Public Accounts Committee. Dr. Jameel has called for an official inquiry into Qasim’s actions, asserting that such behavior is inappropriate for a parliamentary setting and violates constitutional principles.

The controversy arose during a committee meeting where Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim raised concerns about the allocation of government subsidies in the fisheries sector. Qasim, who owns a private fish exporting company, argued that his business should receive the same government subsidies provided to the state-owned Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO). He highlighted the fact that MIFCO is exempt from paying rent, a benefit he believes should be extended to private businesses like his own.

Qasim’s comments were made in response to a motion by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Hulhumale’ Dhekunu, Dr. Mohamed Shamheed. The motion sought an investigation into the reduction of fish purchasing prices and the policy of paying fishers in local currency instead of US dollars. Chairing the committee meeting, Qasim disclosed that he has invested over USD 250 million in the fisheries industry, with facilities at Maandhoo and Hoadedhdhoo that he claims surpass the government’s investments in the sector. He expressed frustration over the government’s refusal to grant his company a MVR 100 million loan for completing the Hoadedhdhoo investment, despite offering loans to other businesses, including an unnamed yellowfin tuna exporter.

Qasim criticized the government’s practice of subsidizing MIFCO’s operations while charging rent to his companies. He argued that the Constitution mandates equal treatment for companies engaged in the same industry. “If rent isn’t taken from MIFCO, then you shouldn’t take rent from us either. The subsidy given to them should be given to us too. We are also the same people doing the same work,” Qasim insisted.

In a strong rebuttal, Dr. Jameel cited Article 75 of the Constitution, which prohibits using the Parliament to advance personal and business interests. He condemned Qasim’s remarks, emphasizing that the People’s Majlis is not a platform for advancing self-interest and business interests. “I condemn these remarks by Qasim in the harshest terms and call for action,” .