Parliament leaves governments request for overdraw period extension in limbo

Maldives Parliament in session | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives – The state’s request to extend the overdraw period for the Public account in Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has been left out in Parliament after no decision was made during yesterday’s debate on the matter.

The Maldivian Parliament previously approved the suspension of Article 32 (a)(b)(e) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, ending on 26 April 2021. This would allow for MVR 4.4 billion to be overdrawn from the MMA Public account.

Citing that Maldives has not been able to overcome the negative impact on the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, on behalf of the state, requested for the extension of this period to 26 April 2022.

Debating on the matter, MP for Vilifsuhi Constituency Hassan Afeef proposed that a special committee be made to investigate the issue, after which a decision should be made. This proposal was supported by MP for Maafannu Medhu Constituency Ibrahim Rasheedh (Bondey).

As no other proposals regarding the Finance Ministry’s request were submitted, a vote was taken on MP Afeef’s proposal. With 48 members out of the attending 60 voting against the proposal, the motion was not passed.

After vote results were announced, Speaker of Parliament and Former President Mohamed Nasheed stated that with this, the request has been kicked out of Parliament as no decision was made. He added that proposals with approval are taken to the voting phase, and advised MP’s to think about what would happen next before acting.

While Nasheed and some of his close associates were not content with yesterday’s results, the majority of Parliamentarians believed that making a special committee for the matter was unnecessary.

MP for Kinboodhoo Constituency and Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee Chair Mohamed Nashiz stated that such financial issues submitted to parliament related to state expenses and income go to the economic affairs committee. He added that thus, making a temporary committee is not mandatory as his committee can directly investigate.

However, MP for Villimale Constituency Ahmed Usham noted that the letter sent by the Ministry of Finance cannot be categorized as an issue that can be automatically sent to a Permanent Parliamentary Committee.

He added that as it just a letter, related procedures are not explicitly mentioned in Parliamentary laws and that he believes that a decision should be made after debating – how the matter was previously settled in Parliament.

While debates on the Finance Ministry’s letter were yesterday and today, only two proposals were submitted regarding the affair- Member Afeef’s proposal to make a temporary committee and Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef’s suggestion to accept Finance Ministry’s request, which received no support at all and thus did not make it to the voting phase.

MP for Maafannu Medhu Constituency stated that the Parliament’s decision was correct, adding that Members who acted to defend the state without any assessment have made an error this time.

The state’s request to extend the overdraw period for the Public account was sent through the Ministry of Finance to secure funds for day to day expenses such as government employee salaries, according to an MDP MP in an interview to local news outlet “Mihaaru”. The MP added that no MDP Parliamentary Group meeting being held on such a serious matter, was disheartening.