Speaking this morning at the inauguration ceremony of the “MDP Councillors Conference 2019”, at Hulhumale, Huravee School, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has said that the Government must prioritize the financial liberalization of the councils, in order to truly realize its goal of decentralization.
He further spoke on several measures that this Government intends to take towards this end, in a way beneficial to our citizens across the entire breadth of the country.
Speaking at the ceremony, The President highlighted that the development of regional hubs, creating more jobs and opportunities as well as increasing the overall productivity of the islands is the path for rectifying the overcrowding and social issues facing Male’ region.
The President noted the essentiality of restoring to councils the responsibilities which had previously been taken over from them and vested in individual ministries instead, further reiterating that meaningful change cannot occur without powers being given back to the people.
Continuing his remarks, he highlighted that work is well underway to incorporate the changes we anticipate to our decentralization framework into a newly amended bill, noting that input from this meeting itself, drawing from the expertise and concerns of councillors, would be reflected into it.
The President noted that in amending the present decentralization framework, priority will be given to fiscal decentralization, and to according councils the power to collect revenue from the services they provide and from the resources they have jurisdiction over.
If they key changes in the bill become effective, henceforward five percent of the government’s annual budget will be devoted to councils; they will be allowed forty percent of the revenue from leasing our reefs, and to 100 percent of the total revenue from renting out land they have jurisdiction over in inhabited islands. Further, councils will henceforward have the right to collect fees for the services they provide and the power to create and operate businesses and cooperatives for their constituents’ benefits.
He noted that this is not an exhaustive list and that they are just some of the positive changes that will take effect once the new bill is ratified into law.
In addition to the above the President expressed that with regard to progress related issues it is imperative to rely on the input of youth and women.
He noted that it will be impossible to bring about meaningful progress without the input of fifty percent of the country’s population. Further, the President added that expanding the role played by women in the upcoming generation is a key ambition of his Government. Hence as part of the amendments being made to our decentralization framework will be ensuring that going forward 33.3 percent (or 1 third) of all council seats are filled by women.