بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds, and may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of God and upon all his family and companions.

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament,
Honourable Members of the Parliament

السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُه


91 years ago, on 22 December 1932, the Royal Statement (Khutbat-ul-Arshi) by His Majesty Sultan Muhammad Shamsuddin III, Siri Kula Sundra Kathiri Bavana Maharaadhun, which focused on the state of affairs and future vision of the Maldives, was the first address made by a Head of State of Maldives, delivered to the first Parliament of Maldives, this esteemed Majlis.

In that address, Sultan Shamsuddin stated, and I quote:

“Is it a trivial blessing to be associated with Islam? There is no religion which is fairer, and more just than Islam, and blessed in both worlds. This is a fact that cannot be contested. Even in this day, many large countries are sacrificing the blood of their citizens for independence. Is it then a small blessing to be an independent nation?”

There is no doubt; the two most fundamental pillars for the present and future of our Dhivehi Ummah will always be the holy religion of Islam and the sovereignty and independence of the Maldivian people.

When I assumed the responsibility as the President of the Republic of Maldives on 17 November 2023, nearly two months and a fortnight ago, I pledged to the people of Maldives, to protect the freedom and sovereignty of the country. The support of a large majority of the Maldivian citizens for our government, was the pledge to withdraw foreign military troops from the country, to recover the lost area of the Maldivian territory, and to terminate any agreement made by the state that might undermine the country's sovereignty.

I have now begun this important national work, with my assumption of the guardianship of this nation. Discussions are underway through diplomatic channels. We have requested to withdraw the foreign military personnel in the Maldives. These discussions are ongoing. As agreed in the latest negotiations, the military personnel in 1 of the 3 aviation platforms will be withdrawn before 10 March 2024. And the military personnel on the remaining 2 platforms will be withdrawn before 10 May 2024. We have officially communicated that the Maldivian government will not renew the agreement which gives away the power to measure and map the Maldivian oceans and coastlines. We will not give in to any pressure that can quiver the sovereign state of the country.

A team of experts are now working strenuously to find ways, in accordance with the international law, to advocate and recover the lost geographic area from our Exclusive Economic Zone.

The bravest of heroes that led our nation, such as Boduthakurufaanu, Dhon Bandaarain, Bodu Rasgefaanu, Iskander Maharadhun, dedicated themselves to fortifying the national defence force. Our history records that during the reign of Bodurasgefaanu (the Great King), he built towers in the Capital Male’, and secured copper guns from Indonesia to protect against the attacks of Malabars and Kannanur Aliraja. They were powerful defensive tools for the time. I believe that military capability should be modernised and strengthened, to safeguard the nation’s land, sea and air. By the grace of Allah, we have begun that now. The Maldivian Defence Force will soon have the capacity to conduct the surveillance of the 900,000 square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone of the Maldives, 24 hours a day.

As we safeguard our nation's sovereignty, our foremost commitment in governing the country will be to prioritize the welfare of our people and the nation, under the guiding principle "Pro Maldives".

The Government will pay special attention to our nationalistic ideals. We have undertaken important efforts to uphold the noble principles of Islam and inculcate good morals and behaviour in the society. The National Council on Mosques has been re-established to enhance the role of mosques in society, and to establish a system for regular monitoring of mosques. We have tripled the state's expenditure for the maintenance and repair of mosques. In this short period since I took office, I have commissioned the work of 6 new mosques. Plans are underway to provide PhD level training for imams. The Government will provide one thousand opportunities to the poorest in the nation, to perform Hajj. In this regard, 50 people will be given the opportunity this year. A dedicated “Maldives Zakat House” has been established to ensure due priority to Zakat. The upcoming holy month of Ramadan, God willing, will be the first time that the government gifts “Roadha hadhiyaa” to every household in the Maldives. The Government has also declared that the last ten days of Ramadan, the most blessed times of worship during the year, will be public holidays, to instil Islamic faith, by the grace of Allah. The government will initiate the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and other Islamic and national holidays in the spirit of religious and national joy and unity by the grace of Allah. Furthermore, a dedicated Islamic TV channel is currently under development, to advocate for religious awareness and Islamic unity.

A dedicated ministry has been established that embraces modern technology, to prevent our youth from being swept away in the evolving tides of this ever-changing world, and to reinvigorate nationalism, patriotism, and to protect the Maldivian identity, culture and heritage.

The national mechanism of reviving Maldivian nationalism has officially begun with the establishment of the Dhivehi National Heritage Research Centre. The centre’s primary objective is to study and pattern the characteristics that define our identity, based on relevant academic frameworks. To accomplish this, we plan to recruit 10 overseers and 50 field researchers. Once the initial six months of research are completed, the centre will begin implementing programs to enhance the knowledge of government employees on nationalism.

When it comes to instilling values of the rich culture and national identity of our people, the utmost priority should be given to our young children. To the students. As the wise saying of our ancestors goes, "If the foundation is crooked, the building will remain crooked even at the top”. If the foundation of our children's upbringing is disconnected from our national identity, they will drift away from our cultural roots.

“Maldivian Nationalism” will be introduced as a separate subject of the national curriculum, in the upcoming academic year. The custom of commencing school assemblies with the national anthem has begun in 2024. However, much work needs to be done to build a patriotic generation. It is crucial for us all to contribute to this important national work.

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

I have drafted a roadmap for the first 14 weeks of this administration, detailing the actions I will take, as pledged, to tackle the numerous challenges and realise the wishes of the Maldivian people. This roadmap outlines the pledges to be fulfilled on the first day, within four weeks, nine weeks, and by the 14-week mark. The "Week 14" roadmap encompasses a total of 161 pledges. Presently, during the 11 weeks that have transpired, 50 pledges have been completely fulfilled. Among these are 7 pledges accomplished on day one, an additional 17 by the fourth week, and a further 26 by the end of the ninth week. Furthermore, 111 additional pledges were made, with 78% of them already fulfilled. We aspire to achieve 100% fulfilment of these commitments before the 14-week deadline expires, by the grace of God. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the members of the Cabinet, government employees across political and civil service, state institutions, and the Maldivian people, for their unwavering dedication in fulfilling these pledges. The government is currently collaborating with a team of technical experts to devise a five-year strategic action plan aimed to honouring all remaining pledges. I express my gratitude to UNDP for their assistance in this endeavour.

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

One of the most pressing issues that I have pledged to address is the shortage of affordable housing, which is a source of great distress for many of our citizens. This is a long-standing problem that has remained unsolved for far too long. I believe that every citizen has the right to housing, and a place to call their own. This is not just a matter of human rights, but also a fundamental right. During my election campaign, I reiterated my commitment to the people of Maldives that, along with the matter of addressing our sovereignty, my top priority would be to solve the housing crisis faced by our people.

Our target is to ensure that every Maldivian has access to housing before the end of this five-year term. To accomplish this, we will reclaim land beyond the initially planned areas in Male', Gulhifalhu, and Giraavarufalhu. Through the Ras Male' project, we will offer permanent housing solution to all Maldivians, including those in Male’ region. Ras Male' will be developed to meet internationally recognized "Safe Island Standard" and designated as a "Net Zero Carbon Eco City," ensuring full accessibility for individuals with special needs. Additionally, we aim to commence construction of roads and provide essential services in the reclaimed regions of RasMale', Gulhifalhu, Giraavarufalhu, and Hulhumale'. With the grace of Allah, we are committed to honouring the right of every citizen who has received a document on land acquisition previously.

In addition, work is underway to connect areas by bridges and causeways and we will succeed, by the grace of Allah. During this administration, the largest project will be to connect the islands of Addu City via a bridge.
At the same time, with God’s grace, this year we will start land reclamation, land allocation and flat construction projects to address the housing shortage in the islands. The government is also exploring ways to reduce the high cost incurred by citizens for housing. One of the first goals we achieved when we took over the government, was to reduce the rent of housing units built by the government in the provinces and cities.

The finishing cost of MVR 200,000.00 for 7,000 Hiya housing units has now been deducted from the initial price of the flats. From January 2024, the rent for 7 years has been reduced from MVR 5500.00 to MVR 3984.21. This reduction has allowed MVR 110,526 reduction from the price of the flat, and the remaining MVR 89,473 can be repaid in 26 years, instead of 27 years.

In addition, the down payment of the Vinares flats has now been reduced by 50% and the monthly rent has been reduced by an average of MVR 4200.00. The rent of the flats in Hulhumale Phase 1, has been reduced by 20% as well. The rent payment of the flats of Maldives National Defence Force and Maldives Police Service has now been postponed for one year. Overall, the fines imposed on social housing units across the country have now been waived.

God willing, the government will ensure that funds are available at an interest rate of less than 5%, for the construction, renovation, and purchase of houses and flats. To reduce the difficulties faced by people in applying for land repeatedly, a special portal will be set up that will regularly maintain the registry of people in need of housing. The registries of all the land plots issued under the “Binveriya” project, as well as the provisional documents for all the land plots allotted in the unclaimed lagoon, have been completed. These registrations and documents are now available for handover. I hope that those who have been allotted land will collect their registrations and documents soon.

As promised, this year I commit to formulating a 20-year national development plan, to make national and rural development long-term priorities. I will engage with families, and gather diverse perspectives of all people. Additionally, I will confer legal authority upon the National Development Plan, ensuring it incorporates the people's opinions. This will prevent development projects from being disrupted with every change in government.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

We have experienced financially challenging years. We are working day and night to save the country from this difficulty. We are striving to initiate new projects that won't burden the state's finances. State-owned companies are searching for ways to increase revenue, and we are exploring ways to reduce the state's debt. The settlement committee which provides reimbursements from the state treasury, which was created without any rules or regulatory measures has now been disbanded. We have also begun replenishing US dollars to the sovereign fund and explore new ways of retaining foreign currency in the country.

Indeed, the future appears promising. For the first time, the Maldivian tourism sector, the cornerstone of our productivity, is poised to reach a significant milestone of 2 million tourist arrivals this year. Projections indicate that the growth trajectory will persist, with an average annual increase of 10.3 percent in the medium term, propelled by the completion of Velana International Airport and the introduction of new flight routes. Diversifying our tourism sector is crucial for expanding the entire economy, leveraging the Maldives' considerable competitive advantage. Ongoing efforts to expand long-haul routes and establish direct flights to emerging markets are underway, through the Visitor Economy Council, which oversees the introduction of innovative tourism products to enhance sector diversification. Concurrently, following these initiatives, sectors such as construction, real estate, and transportation are poised for significant growth in the coming years. With this projected GDP expansion of 5.5 percent this year and an average annual growth rate of 7.1 percent in the medium term, the Maldives is poised for continued economic prosperity.

Despite a good economic outlook, there are major challenges to the public finances. The revenue-expenditure gap has widened, and the fiscal deficit has widened to unsustainable levels. The budget deficit is at 13.5 billion rufiyaa due to the economic downfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the reckless spending and the way government policies were shaped at that time resulted in the economy returning to its pre-pandemic state. But the budget deficit did not reduce. Despite the economic productivity by the year 2023 returning to normal, as in the year 2019, the budget deficit with 14.5 billion rufiyaa exceeded in the year 2023 comparative to the year 2020.

The government's vision for the development and future of the country can only be attained if the country is able to recover from the financial abyss. When we took charge of the government, the state was in extreme debt, the worst in the Maldivian history. Due to the debt incurred to finance of the deficit in recent years, the government debt rose to 115.9 percent of GDP by the end of 2023. In the past five years, MVR 8 billion worth currency notes has been printed in the name of meeting government expenditure. This is a larger amount when compared to the money printed in the previous 40 years. As a result, Maldivian rufiyaa is facing major challenges in maintaining its value. Commodity prices have risen, and Maldivian currency has depreciated. One of the first things we did as a government, was to end irresponsible monetization. With effective from 31 December 2023, the suspended provisions of the Public Expenditure Accountability Act were reinstated and commenced work to recover the economy and get it back on track.

When we took over, the debt of State-owned Enterprises was extremely high. Only two or three companies were earning enough to sustain themselves. Companies' administrative and employee expenses had reached record high levels, while their productive activities had dropped. In the guise of compensation, MVR 1 billion worth of assets have been distributed from the state treasury to various entities. Foreign currency in the Sovereign Development Fund, which was set up to prepare for the government's debt servicing, had also been withdrawn. These are a few of the challenges we've faced in the last 11 weeks.

The fiscal and debt situation has proven to be more challenging than we anticipated when we assumed office. In our Week 14 roadmap, we have devised a comprehensive plan to restore debt sustainability. Our approach will be methodical, aiming to minimize the burden on state finances in the long term. Given that the next two years pose the greatest challenge in terms of debt repayment, our primary focus will be on ensuring timely repayment. Simultaneously, we remain committed to implementing necessary measures to enhance the fiscal landscape and gradually reduce debt to a sustainable level.

Due to the increase in government expenditure compared to revenue that has led to increased debt, we are compelled to take measures to reduce government expenditure. We will, therefore, amend the way the subsidy system has been shaped for a long time, and ensure that subsidies are provided to those who need it the most. The result of subsidies being distributed equally, narrows the financial capacity of the government to provide for those who need it the most.

This is one of the challenges faced by the Aasandha system. This system is being implemented to ensure health care for all Maldivians. However, when the most affluent are also dependent on the government for these services, it is a burden on the government’s ability for public spending. Moreover, this system is designed in a way that is extremely wasteful. Therefore, I will change the Aasandha system to a system that gives priority to its rightful beneficiaries. The reduced finance burden on the government will widen the fiscal space, to improve the quality of health care, and address the challenges in the sector.

Efforts should also be made to reinforce state-owned companies and reduce their dependence on the state. To achieve this, we will take several measures to improve the management of state-owned companies and their finances. This, too, is important to address the fiscal crisis faced by the state. In this regard, a paper was submitted to the Cabinet and discussed at length, and a special policy on strengthening companies was approved.

We are forced to take stringent measures aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit and alleviating existing constraints. One target is to expand the tax base to bolster revenue generation, which forms the cornerstone of my proposed economic agenda. Furthermore, Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP) projects will be carefully segmented and scheduled based on the state's financial condition. Our objective is to expedite project completion, for the people to realize the benefits of the assets construed from these projects.

The Government's plan is to formulate and implement our own reform policy to improve the financial situation of the country and to bring the debt and fiscal situation to a sustainable level. It is crucial for this country’s economic and fiscal future.

I would like to inform that I have decided I will not appoint any more senior political positions other than in exceptional circumstances, to reduce government expenditure.

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members of the Parliament

It is evident that work for urban development projects in the islands, were only a presumptuous show to seek votes for the elections. Many such projects have come to a halt. The sites dug for road construction and sanitation services lay in ruins with no progress for years, with the equipment and materials procured for these projects damaged. There are projects that are causing distress and difficulties to the entire government and the island populations.

The projects that have been delayed all over the country are now being restarted, depending on the requests of the people. There is a substantial number of works to be done in the islands. Water service is properly provided only to 66 islands and sanitation services are well established in only 101 islands. By God’s will, I will complete water and sewerage services in all the remaining islands during this term, and I will complete harbour projects as well. As I have promised, we will make quality roads in all the cities and build major roads in islands. The work of improving the roads in Male’ city will begin this year. A major portion of expenses for these projects will be covered by grant aid by the People's Republic of China. We will also improve the quality of electricity services in all islands. In “Hafthaa 14” (14 week) a program called “My Solar” has been launched to reduce household electricity bills, increase citizen participation in renewable electricity generation and provide social and economic benefits to all citizens. Under the first phase of this programme, tenders will be opened for the purchase of a total of 3 MW solar PV systems including 3 kW and 5 kW.

We will also pave the way for waste disposal and coastal protection as special projects to be undertaken by the island councils. This year, we are planning to construct new garbage dumps in 56 islands and upgrade the existing ones in 16 islands. We will also provide collection vehicles to 93 islands and machinery and equipment to 71 islands.

Furthermore, I aim to establish gyms, parks, sports facilities, and youth centres in every island. As the economy strengthens and state revenue grows, we will ensure equitable distribution of the benefits of these development projects, for the enjoyment of all people of the Maldives.

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members of the Parliament

Our philosophy is to empower every citizen of the country to reach their full potential, as we work towards building a better nation. Our goal is to ensure that no citizen is left behind when it comes to education, income, health, compassion, and overall fulfilment in life.
The education system in the Maldives is in dire need of modernization. The journey towards this improvement must begin with addressing education facilities. Many schools lack the capacity to accommodate the growing population, and in some schools’ essential resources such as classrooms and support services are insufficient. Moreover, numerous schools in the islands encounter challenges akin to those experienced by the students and parents of Arabiyya School. We are committed to initiating necessary reforms and providing essential resources to bolster the education sector. To address immediate concerns, MVR 30 million has been allocated from the contingency budget for school repairs. Additionally, arrangements have been made for the construction of a new building for Arabiyya School, and the site secured, design finalized, and preparations underway to engage a contractor on a finance basis.

Out of the projects allocated for the education sector of this government, 61 projects are currently in the tendering stage. Those include additional classroom blocks and multi-purpose halls. And out of the outstanding 128 million rufiyaa for education projects, 55 million rufiyaa has been paid for projects undertaken, since this government assumed office.

In addition, we are increasing the number of qualified local teachers to teach various subjects.

Due to the neglect in the education sector, students have lost an entire year of academic progress. The sudden changes to the academic year have resulted in slower grade progression than what was previously set. To address this issue and ensure that students do not lose another academic year, the academic calendars of the next two years have been adjusted, and the 2026 academic year will commence from January 2026.

This year, I aim to expand the options to teach Dhivehi language and Islam to Maldivians living abroad. A significantly positive reform of the education sector will be introduced this year, aimed at nurturing the young generations with patriotism, exemplary behaviour, and character. Additionally, we aspire to establish a branch of the National Library in every island in the Maldives, fostering a culture of knowledge and reading across the nation.

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

Just as we try to fill the mind with knowledge and wisdom, we must also prioritize building a healthy population. When we took over the government, the country's healthcare was in a worrisome state.

The decision has been made to enhance health checkups for migrants, focusing on early disease detection and control. Individuals in the Maldives under work visa, dependent visa, or other long-term visas, are required to undergo medical examination upon their arrival and annually thereafter. The decision also imposes those currently in the Maldives under these visas, who haven't had a medical checkup in the past year, to complete one within the next 6 months.

It is crucial to establish a thriving, healthy community and take preventative measures to avoid disease outbreaks. Early detection systems go hand-in-hand with quality healthcare for the people. Various programs fortifying the preventative healthcare system are accounted for in the 2024 budget. As such, the primary healthcare system in 10 atolls is designated for expansion, with operations beginning soon. The Government has also decided that Dhamanaveshi will be upgraded under this initiative. Modules from the District Health Information Software will collect data on reproductive and maternal health, child and nutrition, infectious and non-communicable diseases, mental health and filaria screening from all individuals over the age of 18, paving the way for effective treatment in the 10 atolls designated for the expansion of the primary healthcare system. In addition, a nationwide campaign identifying and educating the public on health issues stemming from lifestyle and dietary habits is underway. Aasandha will cover two free medical checkups annually.

Simultaneously, we have started work to improve the quality of government-run health facilities in the Maldives. Efforts are underway to revise the National Medicine Policy to ensure availability of quality medicines. If the medication is registered with an authority recognized by the World Health Organization as a reference regulatory agency, we will provide easy registration procedure for those pharmaceutical products imported to the Maldives. To lower the cost of drug acquisition, a bulk procurement system has been implemented in order to guarantee the supply of priced and high-quality medications. To ensure the quality of drugs, we will offer the resources required to test the medication and guarantee efficient testing to guarantee its quality. To make sure that the medications supplied are maintained in accordance with the guidelines, the government aims to reinforce and broaden the surveillance and monitoring system.

This January, we launched a special ceremony to expedite the reintegration of experienced health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers, back into active service from the pool of out-of-service professionals.

Along with improving the quality of healthcare within the islands, the Administration aims to establish a sufficiently equipped laboratory on every island and launch tertiary hospitals across the nation, and opt to obtain treatments near their islands, reducing the need to come to Malé for treatments. A specialised mental health hospital will be inaugurated in Laamu Atoll. God willing, hospitals specialising in oncology, thalassaemia, paediatrics, and gynaecology will be established in Malé City during this term. Services in the Dharumavantha Hospital will be modernised, along with the establishment of a 100-bed tertiary hospital in Vilimalé. Furthermore, hospitals in Hithadhoo in Addu City and Kulhudhuffushi City will be upgraded this year, making travelling to Malé for medical purposes obsolete. Our vision also entails reducing the need to travel abroad for medicals by improving the healthcare services across Maldives. God willing, the days of waiting in long queues to get medical treatments will end soon, with the ready availability of prompt services. Air ambulance services for the emergency transfers of patients requiring immediate medical attention will begin in March, also ensuring that our ambulances can carry patients abroad in the future.

We have started assessing critical circumstances that require assistance from Aasandha and are providing assistance for this. Within the first nine weeks of the administration, "IVF treatment" is now covered under Aasandha. Furthermore, we aim to offer full coverage of bone marrow transplant expenses as well as the provision of medication and consumables for children with thalassemia, which will be available at local STO pharmacies throughout the country and made easily available under the Aasandha Scheme. By the end of grade 10, students can easily get tested for thalassemia. Blood banks will be established in five different locations across the atolls.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

Our goal is to establish an empathetic Government working diligently to fulfil the needs of the citizens. God willing, the Government will give attention to the needs of people with disabilities and special needs during this term and serve children and senior citizens with love and compassion.

In this regard, a program called "Ufaavehi" has been developed and implemented to provide a family for each child in the care of the state.

A register of people with special needs due to various disabilities will be compiled this year. The lack of such a national register have deprived many citizens who should have been extended a hand of compassion by the government. An inclusive society where people with disabilities can live in harmony and be loved, will be fostered. We will have community therapists who can provide them with the necessary support. In addition, work has begun to increase the care for people suffering from various mental illnesses and to establish a helpline where people can request for government assistance at any time.

A new regulation is being formulated to implement employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in civil services and state-owned companies. This regulation aims to make employment more accessible for people with special needs. Additionally, the newly launched social housing schemes will include 500 housing units that are exclusively designed for people with special needs.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

The wisdom and insight that senior citizens bring to our nation should be valued. For many people who retire at age 65, it can be difficult to leave the service after a long career and with nothing further to do. The government will find a solution on how to accommodate people who want to work past the age 65, and to enable people to continue working until they are 75 years old, allowing them to continue making a positive impact on society.

With the grace of God, the government will establish a dedicated registry for senior citizens this year. The cabinet made a decision to develop special social centres in Male’ and the atolls for the elderly, as part of the "Hafthaa-14" roadmap. The inaugural centre in Male’ will open this year. Plans also include the creation of aged care centres in three regions across the country, which will provide compassionate treatment and care for the elderly.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

The compassion of this government extends beyond humanity. For the first time in the Maldives' history, we've instituted a Ministry exclusively dedicated to animal welfare. Many families have pets and domestic birds, yet there lacks a comprehensive mechanism for their treatment and well-being. God willing, we will initiate the establishment of such a mechanism this year. The presence of stray cats in Male’ City was prolonged, because the former government did not allocate land for a shelter. Since taking office, we've provided land to the Male’ City Council for the creation of a shelter for stray cats on the City's roads.

In addition, I will launch a project to plant 5 million trees across the country this term to make a greener Maldives. The government also aims to increase the use of renewable energy from 4 percent to 33 percent during this term.

Planting trees enhances the greenery of the country and introduces environmentally friendly habits to pass on the beauty of the country to future generations. We must ensure that today’s youth and children inherit a beautiful green Maldives.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

I wish to lead by taking into consideration, the perspectives, and opinions of our youth, and therefore, I have established the Presidential Youth Advisors Board.

Youth should have access to education, employment, and income opportunities. Youth Centres must be established. We aim to enable our youth to leverage their skills and productivity through online business transactions in international markets, while residing in the Maldives. To facilitate this, efforts are underway to overcome barriers in online payment transactions. Concurrently, we are working on building a creative economy in the Maldives. We are drafting bills for intellectual property protection to be presented to this Majlis. A national creative economic strategy is in the works, and construction of the "Creative Hub" building is set to commence in the first quarter of this year.

A 5-year plan has been developed to make young people globally recognized in the field of coding.

On the topic of youth, I would like to speak on the sports sector as well. Looking at numerous talented athletes in various sports, their misery is evident. Even when we look at the nation’s most beloved sport, football, our regional rankings have never been lower. Avenues for additional training and proper compensation have unfortunately been closed.

We aim to promote the growth and development of sports associations. Our focus is to provide training to local athletes and sports enthusiasts to prepare them for sporting events with a long-term sustainability objective. Due to the limitations on land capacity, we plan to build sports centres in multi-story buildings with playgrounds. Two plots have already been identified in Hulhumale' for the construction of the first, multi storey 'Futsal Complex' and 'Netball Complex'. We are also looking for ways to support major sports clubs financially and increase income for individual players. Our government is committed to fully supporting the development of sports, by listening to our athletes and sportspersons.

The Government established a separate Ministry, by taking into consideration the importance of sports and fitness. The Ministry is in the process of identifying the needs of this sector and provide a desirable solution. On 15 January 2024, a mechanism to develop standards for health services required for national and international sporting events was launched. This service will be available for national and international competitions held in the provinces and Male’ during this year.

The process of establishing a ‘High-Performance Centre’ to train and nurture our athletes is underway. Awareness programs on the benefits of sports and exercise, aimed at students and the public, will be conducted across the Maldives. Programmes on sports psychology, sports nutrition and sportsmanship will be initiated.

I would like to note, the government will promote racing, surfing, water sports and e-gaming, from the ever-changing different global ventures and trends that interest the youth of the nation.

The Government will pursue a gender-balanced policy in the field of sports, political activities, national service, and social affairs. There will always be equal opportunities for both sexes in this government.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

The long-standing peace and stability of the country is one of the greatest secrets of its survival as an old state to this day. Maintaining peace and security of the country is an important policy of the Government. In this regard, the government has already established police posts in 10 new islands. Nine more islands are set to launch services this month. It is important that the role of the police is expanded to ensure law enforcement and security in rural areas. For this purpose, I will launch a major project to establish police stations this year in all islands, in proportion to their population.

When we speak about peace in the country, it is important to remember that people in all inhabited and industrial islands in the Maldives must stay prepared, in case of danger or emergency. We need to be vigilant and work towards mitigating fire incidents, as well as climate disasters. In the short period since I took office, heavy rains and strong winds have battered some cities and islands, causing significant property damage. The Government will continue to assist and guide the families affected by such incidents to the best of our ability. We must acknowledge with gratitude, the graceful and compassionate service provided day and night, by the soldiers of MNDF and the Police. To mitigate climate disasters and damage, the Administration will strive to improve and upgrade our systems, technologicalcapabilities, and relief aid. I take this opportunity to thank the friendly nations for their various avenues of support in these endeavours.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

To ensure every citizen’s right to enjoy the civil rights granted under the Maldivian laws and Constitution, a Government Agency by the name of “Office for Civil Rights” was established last November under the mandate of the Attorney General’s Office. Subsequently, the office has begun providing instructions on handling complaints pertaining to the restriction of civil and political rights.

One of the main policies of the government is to reduce crime. To implement laws that guide offenders and help them reintegrate into society. The aim is to decrease the rate of imprisonment and punishment. The government also intends to modernize the prison system and turn it into a place where inmates can be reformed with compassion. In line with my campaign promises, the "Vaanuvaa" cases or indefinite detention in the investigation of various offenses will end during my administration, and the investigation for these cases will start this month. We will introduce amendments to the law after the inauguration of the new Parliament.

When we talk about the Maldives’ internal security, national stability, and reforms, we must also remember Maldivian families living abroad. We will provide care and assistance to the people living abroad that no other government has given before. This is part of our policy to give priority to Maldivians and the country.

One of the main objectives of Maldivian Embassies abroad is to support the Maldivian families residing in that country. The next objective is to promote the Maldives and contribute to more tourist arrivals, increase investments, and assist the growth of Maldivian companies on the international front.

Protecting our sovereignty and promoting unity through bilateral and multilateral engagement is a crucial aspect of our foreign policy, and move forward in unity with any country that respects the sovereignty and independence of the people of Maldives. We will further strengthen our relations with our neighbouring countries, and with our trade and development partners, especially Islamic countries.

We have always condemned the infringement of one country on the independence of another, and the usurpation of the global peace. The Maldives will always continue to speak out against Israel's inhuman atrocities against our brotherly Palestinian people.
Over the past 11 weeks, I have travelled to Türkiye and China. Each of these trips have opened opportunities for major investments. I would like to extend my gratitude to the leaders of both countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members of the Parliament

One of the most important aspects of streamlining and modernizing services for the people is to decentralize and empower local councils. We have handed over all municipal affairs of Male’ city to Male’ City Council within the first nine weeks of our government. We are ready to do whatever the government can to increase the revenue of the councils and empower them. We will run the government in collaboration with the councils, through dialogue and cooperation. The positive results of the Government’s decision to allocate a full-time Minister dedicated to facilitating the councils are already being seen. To make the councils efficient and financially self-sufficient, and to carry out development work, we have decided to provide uninhabited islands within the jurisdiction of the councils or even those outside. At the same time, we have decided to strengthen the system of handing over the revenue generated from atoll shops to the atoll council. We will provide special assistance to make the land use plan of all the islands before the end of this year. Furthermore, I am pleased to inform you that the government has approved the land use plan for Male' city.

God willing, we will witness the complete realization of the decentralization system, with this government showing its dedication through concrete actions, not just mere words.

The entire system of the government should be designed to easily facilitate citizens to receive services. The lack of office space for government agencies is one of the biggest challenges in delivering good services. To address this, we will hopefully start the work to establish a suitable building in Hulhumale this year to house many government offices, by the grace of God. Arrangements will be made to provide easy access to numerous services provided by the government under one roof in islands and cities.

I assure you that the government will continue to provide full cooperation and assistance to the remaining two branches of the State, the Parliament, and the judiciary. The government will provide full cooperation in addressing the space constraints faced by the judiciary. As I stated in my address, after taking the oath of office as President of the Maldives, from that day onwards, the government's influence on the judiciary has been ceased. Our government will uphold this principle.

I am following through on my pledge to let go of any urge for revenge. I will not arrest or punish individual, on political ground. Peace must be upheld in the country, and I will show that my words align with my actions. However, we will maintain the rule of law. I will fulfil my duty as the Head of State to guarantee justice and fairness in the state. We will not interfere with the judiciary. If I discover that any government official is exerting such influence, I will take immediate action. I am confident in stating that the judiciary has been functioning without any interference from the government since November 17, 2023.

As pledged, the Government will present to this esteemed Parliament a proposal for essential legal adjustments regarding the composition of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), aiming to curb any potential political interference in the judiciary. In addition to the bill, the government plans to introduce several other bills, during the upcoming parliamentary session. These include a comprehensive bail system bill, a preventive healthcare bill, a mental health bill, and a housing standards bill. Additionally, there are the Travel Agency Bill, the Real Estate Expansion Bill, the Urban Planning Bill, and the Urban Development Bill. The Sovereign Development Fund Bill, the Land Readjustment Bill, and the Freehold and Leasehold Land Acquisition Bill are also on the agenda. Furthermore, I intend to introduce a Bill to amend the Copyrights Act, and a Bill to amend the Land Act to include sections on conveyancing. I have requested your esteemed Parliament, to expedite the bill to amend the Right to Peaceful Assembly Act.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

Given the geographical landscape of the islands of the Maldives and its extensive surrounding sea, a key focus for bolstering the nation's economy is the expansion of transport services. Alongside the ongoing construction of domestic airports, plans are in motion to commence the building of two new airports within the year. Recently, the Cabinet made decisions to introduce a state-of-the-art and secure helicopter service, and also enhance road taxi services. The process of compiling a national register of taxi service providers in the Maldives has begun, including the establishment of a digital payment system upon its completion.

The national airline of Maldives, Maldivian, is set to expand its services significantly this year, introducing larger aircrafts to facilitate flights to numerous destinations across the globe.

The regulatory work required for the introduction of the drone delivery system has been initiated and the first round of test flights has been successfully completed on 19 January 2024. Drone regulation work is scheduled to be completed before the service is launched commercially. The drone delivery system will enable delivery of medicines and medical consumables to the islands of the atolls through drones this year, by the grace of God.

An appropriate solution to the parking problem in the Male’ city is being addressed. The construction of the quality parking buildings will hopefully start in April this year. The rule by previous Government to impose parking stickers even when a parking area is not provided has been waived, and all the stickers imposed for parking fines have now forgiven and publicly announced in December.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

In addition to transport services, the Government will give high priority this year to expand trade. Especially to promote small and medium enterprises. Loans will be issued for such businesses. We will hopefully start issuing loans of 100 million rufiyaa in March to encourage more women for entrepreneurship. 25% of this will be reserved for women with disabilities. As part of efforts to empower women economically, a stamp called the "Equality Guaranteed" or "Gender Equality Seal" has been introduced. We will create income opportunities and jobs for all ages and all classes of people. To create more opportunities for Maldivians, 22 areas has been designated exclusively for Maldivians to work. Similarly, a special operation has been launched to track down and take legal action against illegal expatriates.

The aim of all these efforts, is to restore prosperity to the people and the entire state. To escape from debt trap. Although we are politically independent, true independence cannot be achieved without affordability and economic prosperity.
The first President of the Maldives, Sumuvvul Ameer Mohamed Amin Dhoshimeynaa Kilegefaanu, conveyed this significant truth through poetry.

In the exalted name of independence. “Minivan kamuge mathiveri namun”
Even if a nation attains such a status. “Libunas nameh siyaasathun”
The truth of its freedom lies in. “Minivan kamuge haqeeqathakee”
Self-sufficiency I say “Keri foarumey govaanamey”.

I wholeheartedly echo the philosophy expressed in this noble truth. Another paramount objective of the Government is to guarantee the affordability of the nation, notably through establishing food security. Yes, ensuring the provision of basic sustenance for the country. We aim to bolster agriculture and cultivate a sufficient supply of locally grown crops. Consequently, this initiative will enhance foreign exchange retention in the country. We aspire to allocate more resources than ever before towards the development of agriculture and the expansion of farmland and farming communities in Maldives.

And with that, the expansion of Maldives fisheries. To maximize the benefits of the entire region of Maldives, we will introduce new types of fisheries, increase fish products, and increase the number of foreign markets in which the products can be sold.

After I took assumed the Presidency, our government has so far paid MVR 329,953,144 (three hundred and twenty-nine million, nine hundred and fifty-three thousand, one hundred and forty-four rufiyaa) as money that government companies had not paid to the fishermen. The remaining money will be paid as soon as possible. The government aims to ensure that fishermen are paid on a daily basis. With God’s grace, we will do that very soon.

The first item on this Cabinet's agenda, was prioritizing fisheries, and the decision to transform MIFCO into an independent entity, which has now been successfully implemented. As pledged, efforts are underway to integrate fishermen into MIFCO's management, by appointing a fisherman as a board member. Additionally, plans are in motion to compile a fishermen’s’ registry this year, aiming to enhance government support for fishermen economically and socially. Simultaneously, a specialized training has been initiated to certify at least one crew member per fishing vessel be trained as a rescue diver, aimed at reducing diving accidents. The inaugural phase will train fifty fishermen. Further, a Marine Hatchery Skills Development Programme will commence in February, focusing on imparting skills crucial for co-aquaculture, fostering hatchery construction, and marine life restoration. Moreover, a dedicated agency is in the works to promote Maldivian fisheries internationally, introducing a distinctive brand for Maldivian fish products to capture premium prices in foreign markets.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

In the tourism sector, the government aims to open 20 new resorts this year with more than 2800 beds. In addition to this, to facilitate the completion of unbuilt resorts and the work of identifying solutions to the difficulties in the development of the islands, land and reef area leased for tourism development has already started. The Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Finance, MIRA, and Economic Council are currently formulating a policy to complete and market 63 projects allocated for tourism development. God willing, this work will be completed within the next week. The lease agreement and investments for the development and completion of such facilities will be re-structured and a necessary policy to aid the completion of the work of these islands will be formulated and hopefully implemented. Tourism can be further expanded into the atolls. A special tourism development plan for Addu City known as “Asseyri Tourism” is being prepared to launch as a special coastal tourism project with a seaplane hub.

I established a Visitor Economy Council within the Cabinet to enhance tourism services in the Maldives. We aim to introduce MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism to position the Maldives as a destination for major international conferences and ceremonies. Additionally, we seek to expand tourism services in the domains of education, culture, heritage, health, and environment. These positive changes are anticipated to elevate Maldives' tourism sector during this term, God willing.

Due to the strategic geographical location of the Maldives, there are many new industrial activities and new investments that can be made. There are many people who are interested in it.

We will hold investment forums in other countries like the Investment Forum held in China and open investment opportunities globally by the grace of Allah.

The implementation of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Maldives with People's Republic of China will provide a myriad number of benefits to Maldivian businesses and to the economy. Therefore, I am confident that this Parliament will support the completion of the legal procedure for the entry into force of this Agreement. My hope is that free trade agreements with several other countries will be signed and implemented during this period.

In addition, to enhance the prosperity and economic rights of our people, we have initiated the largest project in Maldives to date: the Maldives Industrial Development Free Zone. This venture aims to provide affordable access to essential goods such as food, clothing, medicines, and construction materials for the people of Maldives. Furthermore, leveraging the strategic geographical location of the Maldives, the company will introduce re-export processing and value addition activities within the country, enabling us to compete effectively with other free zones.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

The government also aims to make Maldives an important destination for international financial transactions and trade. It is our goal to establish a development bank in Maldives and expand international banking services. We will hopefully relocate the existing oil storage facility in Funadhoo, Male' atoll and establish there a special centre for international financial transactions. The government has now established the Maldives International Financial Services Authority to facilitate that.

Despite being one of the most attractive regions for international seaport services, we have yet to fully capitalize on this opportunity. To address this, we are planning to open an international bunkering and trade port in Ihavandhippolhu Atoll, designating it as the Maldives Economic Gateway. Additionally, an international trade port is to be opened in Thilafushi in Male’ Atoll. Furthermore, bunkering services will begin in L. Gaadhoo. Each of these ports and services represents a major investment, which we anticipate will significantly increase Maldives’ income.

With the blessings of Almighty Allah, numerous economic projects envisioned will be implemented this year. Each of these endeavours is poised to bolster the economy, creating employment and income opportunities, and fostering prosperity among the people.

Honourable Speaker.
Honourable Members of the Parliament.

We will conduct all activities in a transparent manner. There will be open communication channels with journalists and citizens alike. We have nothing to hide.

I have met with journalists on five occasions within the past 11 weeks to disseminate government updates. All government agencies have established media units to facilitate communication with journalists. Additionally, government agencies conduct press conferences on critical matters.

This government will not blacklist any media and prevent access to The President’s Office or government agencies. The government has also decided to establish a media village in Hulhumale to address the shortage of office space for the media agencies.

My intention and hope is that the government will work as closely as possible with the media and the people. The "Aha" forum, which is held every two months to answer questions directly from the people, was launched in January. In addition, I will soon start a special series this month where I will answer people's questions directly every three months. Since 1st February, I have begun to answer at least one citizen’s video question directly, on a daily basis. Hopefully, within the next month or so, the President’s Office will provide a special portal where people can submit their questions and needs directly to me. I will hopefully respond directly to the people's suggestions. I also hope to meet with various organisations, groups, and visit families, people's homes, and islands in Maldives.

I am committed to fulfilling the duties of office as a humble servant of the people. I will prioritize listening to the voices of the people and engaging in open discussions. By adopting a bottom-up approach in governing the country, I pledge to consult with the people and align our efforts with their aspirations and goals.

My prayer is that Allah Almighty will safeguard the Islamic faith, which has reached the depths of our oceans. May He grant tranquillity to the gentle waves lapping against our shores, shielding them from turmoil. May every malicious plot aimed at tarnishing the purity of this country and its pristine natural beauty be thwarted by Allah's grace.

May Allah safeguard this beloved country and preserve its freedom eternally. Ameen.

My ability to do things comes from none but Allah. In Him alone I have placed my trust, and to Him alone I turn in humbleness.

May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be with you.



وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُه