'Viavathi Raajje', the first of its kind Councillors Conference held in Maldives, successfully concluded on Monday night.
The two-day event, held for members of local councils on the invitation of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was held across four sessions at Crossroads Maldives. It focused on creating awareness among councillors on the challenges of governance and development of constituencies, and to familiarise them with the newly ratified amendments to the Decentralisation Act.
One of the main breakthroughs at the conference was the president ratifying the eighth amendment to the Decentralisation Act, which grants councils legal and fiscal autonomy to develop their respective constituencies. Other amendments ratified earlier include extending council terms from three to five years, and allocating 33 percent of council seats for women in a move to increase female inclusivity.
Another major event was the launching of the website 'Isles', a platform that details the development projects undertaken across the country, and general data on census, islands, councils and lawmakers including contact information.
Several panel discussions, presentations and question-and-answer sessions were also held at the conference, chaired by President Solih with panellists comprising of Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed, cabinet ministers and senior government officials. In addition to decentralisation, topics of focus ranged from 'Jazeera Dhiriulhun' (loosely translates to 'island lifestyle'), waste management and economic welfare, to countering terrorism.
One of the most notable discussions was on the situation of religious extremism in Maldives. Maldives Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) disclosed previously withheld information pertaining to the prevalence of extremist ideologies and subsequent impacts, and the official statistics on radicalised individuals within local communities.
Wrapping up the Councillors Conference, President Solih called on local councils to work with their constituents in conducting projects and to work together with the central government. He also emphasized the importance of holding more conferences in the future, to work towards more productive development.