A temporary committee of the parliament will be making an inquiry after the Finance Ministry requested to extend the period of government overdraw from the public bank account, in order to cover the expenses of the state.
The parliament approved the move for an overdraft for a period of one year in April last year. In a signed letter by the Minister, the Finance Ministry requested the parliament to extend the period for a further one year.
The Speaker, yesterday announced that the parliament had failed to reach a decision on the matter, however, massive differences of opinion were observed among lawmakers. Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef proposed forming a special committee for the purpose of assessing the request. 48 MPs voted against the move while just 12 voted for.
The Speaker of the parliament announced the agenda for today’s sitting whereby a way to proceed regarding the request by the Ministry could be voted for and decided upon.
Alifushi MP Mohamed Rasheed proposed forming a temporary nine-member committee consisting of MPs from all political parties as well as independent lawmakers. The move was approved by 51 MPs.
A list of nine MPs was proposed by MP Rasheed as well MDP PG Group leader and MP for Central Henveiru Ali Azim. After the Speaker requested to make the lists similar, MP Rasheed withdrew his list, and 48 lawmakers voted in favor of the list put forward by MP Azim.
With the formation of the Committee, the Speaker requested the committee to hold meetings and finalize a report on the matter by tomorrow night, afterward, if the go-ahead of all political parties is received, a parliament sitting will be held tomorrow to finalize the requested overdraft issue.
The letter by the Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer to the Parliament sent two days ago, read that he was requesting to extend the period of suspension of certain clauses of the Fiscal Responsibility Act in order to stabilize the economy and manage government expenditure following the COVID-19 pandemic. Such a suspension of the related clauses of the act could mean that the government is able to overdraw funds from the central bank Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) without any limits.
The letter sent by the Minister read that an overdraft of MVR 2.8 billion had been obtained by the government and the Fiscal Responsibility Act stipulates that the limit is to be kept at MVR 170 million at the end of the year, which the Minister said was a difficult thing to do in such short span of time. He stated that the financial market of the nation may not be able to get such an amount and the international lenders may also not be able to refinance such an amount in such a short period in order to repay the overdrawn amount. Minister Ameer providing details of the reasons for the requested extension said that the local economy had still not recovered and overcome the effects of the pandemic, despite early signs in the year such as the control of the virus, resurge of the tourism industry, reopening of the borders and the slight growth of the economy. The Minister said that repaying the overdraft in a short period of time was not possible since the stakes related to the economy were still high.