Parliament concludes sitting without taking tax hike bill vote for the second day

Parliamentarians pictured during a parliamentary sitting. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

Parliament concluded Tuesday’s sitting without voting on the government proposed tax hike bill for the second day.

Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef, who had presided Monday’s sitting after recess, adjourned the sitting citing lack of quorum to take a vote on the bill.

The move sparked displeasure from pro-government MPs.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s parliamentary group leader, North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam criticized the adjournment without taking the scheduled vote.

Speaking to Sun, Aslam said that Whole House Committee’s report on the bill had been ready for two-three days, and that what happened Monday was outside standard protocol.

Usually, if the floor lacks quorum for a vote, the bell is rung and a five-minute wait is observed, he said.

Aslam said Monday’s sitting was adjourned in violation of regulations.

“We have been trying to call a vote since last Monday. The bill was stalled citing the ongoing budget debate. But under standard protocol, votes on key bills are taken even with the budget debate in progress. They are trying very hard to prevent the passage of this bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday’s sitting, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed said that Monday’s parliamentary sitting was adjourned in line with stipulated regulations.

He said that no efforts were initiated to enforce the vote as the third reading of the report had not been completed. Citing that only the debate had been completed so far on the report, he said the sitting was adjourned in line with stipulated regulations.

Debate on the Committee’s report was on the agenda for Tuesday’s sitting, which proceeded accordingly. However, the third reading of the Committee’s report did not take place at today’s sitting. 

The government is seeking to raise the GST from 6 percent to 8 percent, and the TGST from 12 percent to 16 percent.

The bill was passed without changes by the Whole House Committee.

The government expects to raise an additional income of MVR 3.7 billion by increasing the tax rates in 2023.

Those opposed to a tax hike argue the government should instead cut unnecessary expenditure, such as the appointment of people to political posts.