President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Sunday ratified the eighth amendment to the Decentralisation Act, thereby financially empowering local councils.
He ratified the amendment during 'Viavathi Raajje', a first of its kind councillors' conference which kicked off at Crossroads, with over 200 councillors from across the country in attendance.
While the administrative functionings of councils proceeded as per the decentralisation policy before, the current Act withheld much of the powers of local councils, deferring them to the main administration. The present government has brought about several amendments to the Act in a move to uphold its pledge of achieving true decentralisation and empowering local councils.
Ensuring financial empowerment of local councils is one of the major amendments lobbied by the government, under which an amount of MVR 1.6 billion from the State Budget 2020 is allocated for the councils.
Other amendments include increasing council terms from three to five years, as well as allocating 33 percent of council seats for women to increase female inclusivity. The councils are also authorised to handle the budgets and planning for any projects that do not exceed MVR 5 million.
Moreover, the amendments restored the powers which were previously withheld from the local councils, and allowing them to function and proceed with the inclusion from public representatives.