COVID-19: Emergency motion over a potential staple food shortage

Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

The deputy leader of People’s National Congress (PNC), Adam Shareef Umar, on Wednesday, presented an emergency motion at the Parliament urging State authorities to have contingency measures in place to deal with a potential staple food shortage in Maldives if the global COVID-19 virus outbreak situation worsens.

Adam Shareef, who represents the Maduvvari constituency, cited the rapid spread of the virus across the world, the rising number of confirmed cases in neighboring countries, and the statement by local governmental agencies over the high risk of a potential outbreak in Maldives as reasons to warrant his emergency motion.

He said the COVID-19 outbreak was already having an adverse effect on the Maldivian economy.

Adam Shareef also noted that Maldives relied on imports for even the most basic commodities such as petroleum and staple food.

He said that both petroleum and staple foods were distributed to the atolls from the capital, Male’, on passenger boats, and that local islands did not have storage systems. He said that stores located in local islands only brought in two-week’s stock at a time.

If COVID-19 spreads to Maldives, cargo boats will stop its operations, disrupting both import and distribution of petroleum and staple food, and creating a potential crisis situation, warned Adam Shareef.

He has urged contingency measures including stockpiling staple food, establish a food distribution system, and make alternative arrangements for islands which may need to be quarantined.

The government must take all necessary measures to ensure Maldives does not suffer a petroleum or staple food shortage, said Adam Shareef.

The emergency motion was accepted into the Parliament with the vote of 44 parliamentarians, and is currently under debate.