MP Shiyam criticizes limiting councilor powers in special act

MP for Naifaru Ahmed Shiyam. (Photo/Parliament)

MP for Naifaru Ahmed Shiyam has criticized the limitation of powers for councilors under the Special Act on Ensuring the Operation of Administrative Divisions of the Maldives under Decentralization Policy 2020.

The law was enacted by the Parliament in relation to the postponed Local Council Elections due to the situation with COVID-19 in the capital. An amendment to the law has now been proposed by Madaveli MP Hussain Firushan, and MP Shiyam was speaking during the first reading of the amendment when he criticized the bill.

“By extending a term through the Constitution, I do not believe that for instance there could be an agreement that cannot be signed now that they could sign previously, prior to the extension.” Said MP Shiyam.

He said that the act limited the source of income to islands as well as the country, reflecting on the current situation of the country. 

What is in the Act?

Interim councilors will require authorization from the Local Government Authority (LGA) before they make decisions such as the donation or sale of a property or asset under the council’s jurisdiction, the lease of a property or asset under the council’s jurisdiction for more than a six-month period, taking loans, investing in public services, spending funds under the name of the people, passing supplementary budgets, changing the administrative structure of councils, or appointing or terminating employees.

Interim councils will be required to adhere to the Decentralization Act in utilizing its powers to provide public services unless in exceptional circumstances declared in the act.

The act also states that interim councils will be required to share income and expenditure records and records on assets and finance for the transitional period to LGA and Auditor General’s Office two days prior to the date for the local council elections declared by the Elections Commission.

MP Shiyam also criticized the amendment on the agenda for the act. He said that it did not make sense that the Local Government Authority is to be run by a member appointed by the President.

Despite the MPs remarks, the LGA is to be run by members appointed by the president during the interim period under a special law.

MP for Ungoofaaru Mohamed Waheed responded to MP Shiyam’s remarks by saying that the opposition were not aware or clear on what the bills stipulated. He said that the current halt in the operations of the LGA was due to the ill health of Home Minister Imran Abdulla. He said that it was important that meetings of the LGA are to be continued even without the Minister’s presence. 

The amendment proposed by MP Firushan clearly defines the President and Vice President of the LGA. The President is a Minister designated by the President while the Vice President is an elected individual from within the board members. 

The amendment says that meetings of the LGA is to be presided over by the President, who if not present, the Vice President can assume the duties of. If both are absent, a member appointed by the board is to oversee meetings.