President Abdulla Yameen delivered the Presidential Address Wednesday night, at the opening session of the parliament for this year.
In the address the president had stated that the aim of the government was to serve the Maldivian people and work towards the development of the nation while ensuring the citizens’ happiness.
The session was attended by 36 members of parliament, out of 85 members. The opposition lawmakers had decided to boycott the sitting shortly before it commenced.
While the president is required by the Constitution to address the parliament on the state of the country, and present proposals for improving the nation, President Yameen had not highlighted the state of emergency that is currently in place, in his speech.
However, President Yameen had underscored a lot of figures depicting the work carried out by his administration, and noted the development projects initiated over the past four years. He also guaranteed that the government was committed to bringing large investments to the Maldives while increasing its ability to develop sustainably.
In his speech, the president revealed that a study on the crime statistics over the past nine years showed that crime rate had reduced by 35 per cent during the past four years.
He also insisted that Maldives’ stature has increased in the international arena with the leadership exhibited by the Maldivian government. As such, he highlighted how Maldives is currently seeking election to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member from the Asia-Pacific region for the term 2019 – 2020. If successful, the president said that Maldives would have the opportunity to advocate for small island nations and continue to address issues such as the environment, development and terrorism.
Speaking about the government’s initiative to develop the education sector, the president noted its ambitious plan to digitise all the schools across Maldives this year and said that, “students who graduate from [our] schools will be technologically literate. As such their odds of succeeding in the workplace in the 21st century would be higher.” He also revealed that the first-ever medical college would be established this year.
Detailing the statistics of his administration further, President Yameen said that sewerage systems were established in 21 islands and water storage systems were established in 29 islands over the past four years, while four airports across the Maldives would be completed by the end of this year.
“Our economic growth rate has increased from 6.2 per cent in 2016, to 6.9 per cent in 2017, which is a testament to the speed at which our economy is growing.”
President Yameen also revealed that 24 islands that were leased for tourism purposes would be inaugurated this year, along with two new ‘city-hotels’; with these new developments, the number of beds in the country is expected to increase to more than 5,300, according to the president.
“A lot of work has been carried out in the past four years in order to create business opportunities, to bring investments and to develop small and medium business enterpirses. We are now seeing the results of his hard work. A clear example of the Free Trade Agreement signed with China, which enables us to export our products to China without any duties” the president had said.
The president had concluded his brief address by ensuring that public welfare is a priority of his administration, and stating that it aims to make Maldives an upper-middle-income country.
After the presidential address was delivered and the parliament session was adjourned, the opposition began gathering in protest of the alleged unconstitutional state of emergency that is still in place, after the parliament in an extraordinary sitting held Tuesday, extended it by 30-days.
The opposition called the president to immediately recall the state of emergency and accused the government of holding the Supreme Court hostage in order to enforce its “illegal activities.”