President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced on Thursday that the government must prioritize the financial liberalization of the councils, in order to truly realize its goal of decentralization.
Speaking at a ceremony held in Huravee School to inaugurate 'MDP Councillors Conference 2019', President Solih stated that decentralisation was a concept of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the main party of the governing coalition.
"We promised that the people will be able to access necessary day-to-day services from their respective islands without the need to travel to the capital or beg their government for it", the President said.
As per the President, a lot of alterations were brought to MDP's pledges when the Decentralisation Act was passed in 2010. Although the Act was passed while MDP was the ruling power, the opposition held the majority of parliament at the time.
Therefore, President Solih stated that the current Decentralisation Act does not entirely encompass MDP's ideals. He stated that efforts are underway to incorporate the changes into a newly amended bill, noting that input from the conference, drawn from the expertise and concerns of councillors, would be reflected in it.
Noting that some responsibilities of government authorities were shifted over to island and atoll councils, the President praised some councils on their performances within the past year. However, he noted that some other councils needed improvement in this area.
Accusing former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration of focusing on centralised development, President Solih asserted that MDP's manifesto and Agenda 19 focused on decentralisation to cater more personally to the people.
"The Maldivian people accepted these ideologies and granted a majority to MDP. I believe that the huge responsibility bestowed upon us by the people can only be fulfilled by meaningful decentralisation", he said.
President Solih expressed 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 the capital Male’ region.
For this purpose, President Solih stated that all the powers that reside in Male' City must be passed on to island and atoll councils.