Nazim expresses concern over councilors’ trips abroad amid economic crisis

Deputy Speaker, Dhiggaru MP Ahmed Nazim. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim, on Monday, has raised concern, accusing local councils of exerting their powers without any fiscal responsibility and in this trajectory, undertaking expensive trips abroad at present as Maldives battles an economic decline.

The government’s fiscal responsibility bill was submitted to the Parliament on Monday with the sponsorship of Thulusdhoo MP Ibrahim Naseem.

During the debate on the bill, Deputy Speaker Nazim, who also serves as the parliamentary representative for Dhiggaru constituency, expressed concern over officials from local councils undertaking expensive trips abroad amid an economic decline.

“Local councils are exerting the power bestowed upon them by the Local Council Act without any fiscal responsibility,” he added.

In this regard, Nazim said HA. Atoll Council has planned a trip to Thailand’s capital Bangkok for the upcoming Independence Day holidays. Meanwhile, he noted that GDh. Atoll Council has undertaken a 12-day trip to Türkiye and a three-day trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year.

A total of 837,079.96 was incurred for these trips, adding US dollars for the trips was purchased from the black market at a rate of MVR 17.65. 

“Councils should align their beliefs with the government. These things need to be improved,’ he added.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has announced stringent matters in light of the delicate economic state of the Maldives which includes cutting down political posts and the cancellation of events planned for Independence Day celebrations.

Erdem Atas the World Bank Country Economist and Resident Coordinator for Maldives, has called for immediate expenditure cuts to overcome its current economic vulnerabilities.

In a statement on X, Atas said that the economic vulnerabilities Maldives is now facing are a combination of debt stock accumulation in the last 10 years.

Besides this, he said that the continuous high fiscal and current account deficits over the same period also negatively impacted the country's economy.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings - a global credit rating agency - had downgraded the Maldives' long-term foreign-currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) from 'B-' to 'CCC+' in light of the risk associated with rising external debt coupled with weakening foreign reserves, external financing and liquidity metrics.