PPM deputy leader and former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu said on Saturday that the Housing Ministry did not select tenants for the Hiyaa Housing Project based on their alliance with PPM, and that most of the tenants were MDP members.
The opposition coalition composed of PPM and PNC held a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
Responding to questions over the selection of tenants for the Hiyaa Housing Project in suburban Hulhumale’, Muizzu said that the Housing Ministry, under his leadership, did not employ bias in selecting tenants for the housing units, and that the selection process was carried out in accordance with preset guidelines.
“Flats were awarded based on the information of applicants. The guideline for points wasn’t based on whether they belonged to the aforementioned political party or their post of employment. The guideline did not discriminate whether applicants were, for example, a parliamentarian, a relative of a parliamentarian, or a minister or political appointee or their relative,” he said.
Muizzu said that all Maldivian citizens were equal, and that it was only natural that some of the tenants for the 7,000 housing units happen to be PPM members, given that it had been the largest political party in the country at the time.
PPM had faced criticism after it was revealed that family members of former Nilandhoo MP Dr. Abdulla Khaleel were awarded housing units under the project. Khaleel had insisted that they were selected fairly, and that he did not misuse his power to secure the housing units for them.
“After this took place, I asked Dr. Khaleel whether it was true, whether some of his family members were selected. I asked because I did not have prior knowledge of that. And based on the comments which have been directed at me since the current administration came to power, and based on the information I received through meetings with various sources, the majority of flats were awarded to MDP members. This is something I had no prior knowledge of,” he said.
Muizzu criticized the committee established by the current administration to review housing projects conducted by the previous administration, and said that some of the applicants were given “zero” points during the living condition assessment process, merely because the applicants had been overseas during the time of the visit.
“Meaning it was assumed that they must be living very affluent lives because they were overseas at the time. But the applicant may have been overseas for essential medical care. These were people who made it on the previous list [of tenants]. People on this list have been disqualified because there weren’t cracks in their houses, because their pipes weren’t leaking, because of the coronavirus outbreak in Male’, and because they were not in Maldives,” he said.
Muizzu said that applicants weren’t told they should be in Male’ for the assessment.
Muizzu said that the current administration had rendered many of the people who were guaranteed housing under the Hiyaa Project homeless, and described it as a great abuse.
He said that the current administration was treating the 2,500 housing project which was announced in the Government Gazette as something which never existed.
Muizzu said that all those who were “sidelined” by the current administration will be the first to receive housing under the next PPM administration.