Government already facing both political and public outrage over the recent decision to limit staple food subsidy drew fresh criticism on Tuesday after president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom during a rare address to the people refused to broach the sensitive and controversial subject.
During his speech after inaugurating a new water and sewerage system project in Fuvahmulah city on Monday -- his first in months -- president Yameen touched on an array of issues but steered well clear of the subsidy cut-down despite him being greeted by hundreds of angry protesters upon his arrival in the city -- hours before the speech.
Government aligned Jumhoory Party (JP) lawmaker Abdulla Riyaz insisted that a president is always obliged to address the concerns of the people.
"He must explain the reasons behind the decision to limit the food subsidy. It's his duty to explain a decision that directly affects the people. The power lies with the people," the Kinbidhoo MP stressed.
Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said the people expected their president to allay their concerns. But similar to recent times, Fahmy accused the president of "playing in defence."
According the revised policy the subsidy on staple food would now be made available to the needy through the national social protection agency with effect from October 1.
The change has lead to a significant hike in prices for rice, flour and sugar in the archipelago sparking a chain reaction of increased prices in most commodities.
The move has already sparked protests in the capital Male and throughout the atolls, calling on the government to reverse its decision.
Government has continued to defend the move to cut down on subsidies by insisting that the decision was prompted to secure foreign aid.
According to the government, international financial institutions have long pressed the government to cut off subsidies.