Malé, Maldives – Leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Parliamentary Group, MP Mohamed Aslam on Thursday told that increasing the taxes was the only solution to manage government expenditure.
Speaking on a Public Service Media (PSM) program, MP Aslam stated that the main expense of the government was salaries of civil servants which cannot be lowered while the demand by civil servants is to increase their current salaries.
He also added that due to the heavy subsidization of social welfare services such as Aasandha and National Social Protection Agency, government would not be able to lower its expenditure.
MP Aslam’s remarks come after he came under criticism for his comments stating that amendments can be put forward despite the three-line whip of MDP to pass the bill without further changes to the government’s proposal.
Ruling party’s PG leaders comments on government expenses also come while the government’s expense reduction efforts were left in vain even though Finance Ministry sent out circular to lower government offices expenses.
Finance Ministry sent a circular on June 20 to government offices, instructing to cut down expenditure in light of changes to the world economy.
In this regard, the circular signed by Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, instructed government offices to halt introducing new posts and giving promotions.
The current administration which had advocated against increased political appointees of the former government has also failed to lower the number of political appointments.
Local media reported that 310 political posts are actively filled while President Solih and other officials have been criticized for their excessive traveling both within Maldives and abroad.
Government has proposed to increase General Goods and Services Tax (GGST) from 6 percent to 8 percent with Tourism Goods and Services Tax (TGST) increase from 12 percent to 16 percent.
Aslam added that the tax hike bill is of national importance and that if any MP wants to suggest amendments, that they can put forward it during the committee stage discussions and research.
He also told that the government wishes to have the bill passed before the 2023 budget for the nation was sent to the parliament and if not there would be consequences.
Although the whip has been passed by MDP’s Parliamentary Group, several MP’s have spoken against the tax hike during the current economic distress.
Former President and incumbent Speaker of the Maldives Parliament Mohamed Nasheed had also refuted against the hike when it was announced by the government in July. He also stated that this decision was unacceptable and was made without discussing with the MDP parliamentary group.
Speaker Nasheed stated that the economic recovery could be achieved with debt restructuring instead of increasing GST and had proposed to decrease state expenditure.