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Finance Minister Ameer abstains from parliament sitting to submit State budget

Mohamed Rehan
13 November 2023, MVT 12:35
Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer-- Photo: Mihaaru
Mohamed Rehan
13 November 2023, MVT 12:35

Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer has abstained from attending the parliament sitting on Monday, November 13 to address the 2024 state budget and the supplementary budget for 2023.

With Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed's no-confidence motion facing delays, the parliament secretariat had scheduled the budget bills for Monday's sitting at 9:00 a.m.

However, the minister sent a letter addressed to Speaker Nasheed notifying he was recusing from attending owing to ill health.

"Although the 2024 state budget submission has been tabled for [Monday], I regrettably inform that I will not be able to attend the sitting owing to my health conditions," Ameer said in his letter.

At the time of Ameer's recusal to attend Monday's sitting, the parliament secretariat's decision about the agenda was unclear.

While the budget bills were scheduled earlier on October 31 in adherence with the Public Finance Act, the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) intervened the submission of the bills amid Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed's no-confidence motion.

The ruling party said that no other matter can proceed in the parliament without addressing the no-confidence motion first.

Although the motion was tabled on parliament's agenda five times, it faced delays since Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, who according to the parliament regulation should chair the Speaker's no-confidence sitting, was on sick leave.

The parliament regulation in accordance with the Maldives Constitution demand submission of the following year's state budget before November 1. The minister however did attend the initial sitting on the advise of Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath.

MDP filed a constitutional lawsuit at the Supreme Court for a correct interpretation of the parliament regulation and grant discretion to other members to chair the Speaker's no-confidence motion besides the Deputy Speaker.

The ruling party in its lawsuit also sought the top court to ensure no other matters proceeded in the parliament without addressing the no-confidence motion first.

While the top court held that the Speaker's no-confidence motion can be chaired by one out of the five longest-serving MPs of the parliament, it held that the approval of state budget has been mandated to the legislative through the Constitution, and added there was no legal obstruction for the budget bills even if the no-confidence motion has not been concluded.

Both the no-confidence motion and budget bills have been put on Monday sitting's agenda.

Despite two sittings tabled on Sunday to address Nasheed's no-confidence motion, it did not proceed since Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef who chaired the 9:00 a.m. sitting held the motion unlawful and had it dismissed.

This was followed by Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, who chaired the 11:30 a.m. sitting, declaring that the motion was already dismissed by the previous sitting's chair and deemed it unnecessary to address the same matter twice in one day.

The motion was scheduled for Monday since parliament's secretariat did not approve of both Afeef and Eva's decisions.