The Parliamentary Committee on Decentralisation, on Tuesday, amended a bill to the Decentralisation Act to allow the dismissal of council members, presidents and mayors through a parliament vote, based on submissions by the Local Government Authority (LGA).
The committee made and approved this amendment after reviewing a bill submitted by Hulhumale MP and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)s Chairperson Ali Niyaz.
When Niyaz first submitted the bill on behalf of the government, it did not propose to give Parliament the power to dismiss council members.
However, the committee's proposed amendment gives LGA the authority to take measures against councillors, mayors or council presidents, with advice from Parliament, if they are negligent in their duties and responsibilities, misusing the powers vested in the council or displaying disciplinary issues.
The amendment further orders LGA to launch an inquiry into any councillors exhibiting the aforementioned behaviours and advise them based on notable shortcomings.
If the councillor fails to heed LGA's warning, the authority is required to submit the report on the councillor to Parliament.
According to the amendment, LGA has the authority to suspend the councillor for a time period which does not exceed three months, based on the Parliament's counsel.
If any council members are jeopardising the interests of the common people, LGA can submit a motion to Parliament for their dismissal. However, the submission can only be made with the vote of two-third members on the authority's board. The bill details that LGA's board will consist of nine members.
Following this process, if the Parliament votes to dismiss a council member, they will be removed from their position, effective immediately.
The amendment also notes that a new council member must be elected within a period of 60 days if a member's tenure is terminated before the end of their five-year term. LGA is responsible for notifying the Elections Commission (EC) within 14 days if a council seat is vacant.
However, a member voted in via a by-election will only serve until the council's five-year term ends.
If there is a period of one year or less remaining in the council's term, new members will not be elected for vacant seats, as per the bill.
In addition, the new amendments submitted to the Decentralisation Act proposes granting various powers to the councils, including financial advantages.
As per these amendments, councils will receive the income generated by resources under the council's jurisdiction and municipal services. Moreover, the amendments state that councils will also receive five percent of the domestic budget included in the state budget.