President: We must consider state income when granting big budgets to councils

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih speaks at the closing ceremony of the two-day 'Viavathi Raajje' conference in AA. Ukulhas on May 29, 2022. (Photo/President's Office)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih states the government must consider the state’s income when providing larger block grants to financially empower local councils. 

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the two-day ‘Viavathi Raajje’ conference in AA. Ukulhas on Sunday afternoon, President Solih said that local councils and women’s development committees shared similar issues. 

“The first issue is the same financial constraints as before. Complaints of block grants being too low. And complaints of difficulties in setting jurisdictions,” he said. 

President Solih said he also noted challenges in making land-use plans. 

He provided he would discuss granting financial empowerment with his Cabinet, and provide a solution to the issue. 

President Solih said that his administration would implement the necessary changes in response to the rise in expenditure and set Maldives on a good course. 

President Solih also said that the Russia-Ukraine war was having a severe impact on the Maldivian economy, with the rise in global fuel and food prices. 

He said that expenditure had risen above the budgeted amount, but pledged to set Maldives on a good course, despite the many economic and financial challenges. 

President Solih said that this year’s ‘Viavathi Raajje’ conference was different from the one held back in 2019. 

“I have noticed the presence of councilors and WDC members who are here to find more constructive solutions,” he said. 

Before closing the conference, President Solih chaired the third session of the conference on Sunday morning, during which he urged local councils to offer more substantive support to WDCs. 

He said that one of the complaints he noted during his meetings with some of the WDCs reflected the lack of support from local councils, with a few WDCs raising the issue of incommensurate working environments.  

He urged the help of local councils to address the concerns 

President Solih also highlighted the initiatives of his administration to empower women. He ratified amendments to the Decentralization Act in December 2019, allocating a third of council seats to women, which saw the election of 388 women to local councils. Coupled with the election of WDCs, President Solih said that women’s role in development is growing exponentially. 

The ‘Viavathi Raajje’ conference was aimed at local council representatives and presidents of WDCs from the central atolls. It was also attended by ministers, policy executives from the President’s Office, and technical experts from various institutions.