MRM expresses concern over 2023 budget, calls for revision of subsidies

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (R) pictured beside President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (C) on November 23, 2019. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The government coalition partner Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) has expressed concern over the 2023 state budget, and has called upon the government to revise its policy on subsidies.

The Parliament passed the MVR 42.8 billion budget on Monday, with a majority vote of 61 out of 69 MPs.

In a statement on Tuesday, MRM said while they found the budget to be promising, they also had some concerns regarding the budget.

MRM expressed concern that the MVR 5.8 billion supplementary budget for 2022 was passed with the 2023 budget, even though the law dictates that supplementary budgets must be passed separately.

This has been practiced in the past couple of years, they said.

MRM said the budgets and revised budgets passed the past couple of years do not correspond with the expenditure at the end of the year.

The party said the actual expenditure in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2020 had been well beyond the budgeted expenditure for the years.

MRM added that the lack of details regarding the MVR 5.8 billion supplementary budget is of concern to the people.

The party also expressed skepticism the government will be able to secure the MVR 2.5 billion in projected grants and the MVR 6.4 billion in projected loans and bonds from the international market to finance the budget deficit.

“Failure to secure the grant assistance will mean securing loans from the domestic market to cover expenditure. Even now, the decision to print MVR 2 billion due to lack of loans from domestic market has devalued the Maldivian currency and significantly increased the price of USD in the black market,” said MRM.

MRM urged the government to reduce expenditure as advised by international financial institutions, Convert the funds issued as subsidies to reduce expenditure to targeted subsidies, and plan a mechanism for issuance of targeted subsidies.

The policy must be revised so subsidies go to the deserving, instead of the rich and the poor being treated the same, said the party.

Many MPs, including Speaker Mohamed Nasheed himself, had expressed concern over how the supplementary budget was submitted. MPs loyal to Nasheed had refused to vote on the budget.