President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Tuesday, sent the bill granting a monthly allowance of MVR 35,000 and other privileges to former Vice Presidents, back to parliament without ratification.
Chief Communication Strategist of the President's Office Ibrahim Hood stated to local media Mihaaru that the bill was set back to parliament for reconsideration. He further affirmed that President Solih believes that the bill goes against the core values of the constitution.
Moreover, Hood noted that there were some questionable aspects in the criteria of those granted privileges, making an example that VPs who filled the position for a period of two months only are also eligible for the allowances.
"The bill was sent back to reconsider such things", Hood explained.
Additionally, according to Hood, the bill granting allowances for judges were also turned down. President Solih believes that the bill was contradictory with article 75 of the constitution, Hood said.
Article 75 states that members of the People’s Majlis should be guided in their actions by considerations of national interest and public welfare foremost, and should not exploit their official positions in any way for their own benefit or for the benefit of those with whom they have special relations. They shall represent not only their constituencies but the country as a whole.
The bill granting privileges to ex-VPs were presented to the parliament by MP Ahmed Saleem (Redwave Saleem) from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
As per the bill, Vice Presidents will only receive the financial allowance if they are not an employee of the state. Additionally, the bill states that VPs must be provided with adequate security detail upon request.
Moreover, concessions will be granted in line with the government's policies on medical treatment from Maldives or abroad. The bill also states that relevant authorities must arrange transportation for VPs within capital Male'.
All Vice Presidents who served after the implementation of the new constitution since August 7, 2008, are eligible for these benefits following the ratification of the bill.
However, any Vice Presidents found guilty of criminal charges are excluded from the privileges offered by this amendment from the time their final judgement is delivered.
Out of the five VPs currently alive, only three are eligible for the benefits: Mohamed Waheed Deen, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Abdulla Jihad. Current VP Faisal Naseem will be eligible for privileges if his tenure concludes without a proven criminal charge.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who was found guilty of criminal charges, is barred from the benefits granted by this amendment
The bill was met with heavy criticism from the public, comparing the state expenditure on VPs who held their positions for a short period of time with the minuscule allowance received by employees who spend their lifetime working for the state.