Nasheed refuses to budge; Parliament to continue drafting govt. bills

(From L-R) Speaker of Parliament, former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed (L) and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R). (File Photo/President's Office)

Speaker Mohamed Nasheed insists that there isn’t any legal barrier to the entire lawmaking process being conducted from with the Parliament, and that it is empowered to do so by the Maldivian Constitution.

Nasheed’s remarks comes after Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath and several Cabinet ministers voiced concern after parliamentary committees initiated work of drafting several legislatures on Tuesday – ones which the government had announced it planned on presenting – raising fears over a possible overlap in state functions.

Nasheed addressed the concerns at the parliamentary sitting this Wednesday. He said that he had received a letter from MDP parliamentary group leader, Central Henveyru MP Ali Azim stating that the ruling party planned on presenting 20 bills over the course of the current third session of the 19th parliamentary assembly. Nasheed said that the Parliament was restricted from directly drafting only an income bill, the income tax bill, and the job seekers allowance bill.

He said the purpose the Parliament’s standing orders allowing political parties to present bills to the Parliament was to facilitate lawmaking even in situations whether the incumbent President loses his popularity.

He said that the government needs to present its bill through the political party the President belongs to, in situations where the incumbent President belongs to a party which enjoys majority at the Parliament.

Nasheed said the Constitution was very clear that the Parliament was empowered to engage in all processes of lawmaking. He said that he had instructed parliamentary committees to initiate work on drafting bills, and that the work will be carried out with input from the Attorney General and relevant state and government officials.

“The bills are being drafted as a responsibility of the committees,” said Nasheed.

He said that drafting bills were a key part of the Parliament’s responsibilities.

Permanent parliamentary committees have now formed sub-committees to draft bills.

The responsibility of drafting government bills had traditionally laid with the Attorney General’s Office. The reason for the sudden shift in protocol and the decision by the Parliament to take over the responsibility remains unclear.

Expressing his concern over the sudden shift in protocol, AG Ibrahim Riffath said that a "Parliament of integrity" should allow the government to draft its own bills.