Nasheed demands Finance Minister Ameer’s prosecution for 'financial crime'

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer presents the projected state budget for 2023 at the parliament on October 31, 2022. (Photo/People's Majlis)

MP Mohamed Nasheed, who recently resigned as Parliament Speaker, said on Tuesday that Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer had committed a crime by failing to attend the Parliament to present the 2024 state budget within the legal time frame, and should therefore be prosecuted.

Ameer had been instructed to present the budget on October 31, but decided against attending the Parliament, after Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath opinioned that the legislative body could not conduct any other work until it makes a decision on the no-confidence motion that had been submitted against Nasheed at the time.

Nasheed resigned after weeks of turmoil within the Parliament on Monday. The presentation of the 2024 budget, along with the 2023 supplementary budget was re-scheduled to Tuesday, after the Parliament elected its new Speaker on Monday night – MDP’s top lawmaker Mohamed Aslam.

Ameer attended the sitting to present the budgets on Tuesday morning. But lawmakers from the Democrats raised one point of order after the other, objecting to his earlier refusal to attend the sitting.

The minority leader, Central Henveiru MP Ali Azim said Ameer had committed a financial crime.

Fellow Democrat, North Maafannu MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said Ameer had infringed on the privileges afforded to the entire Parliament. He said that it was clear from last week’s Supreme Court ruling that Ameer’s earlier refusal to attend the Parliament had been based on an “illegal counsel.”

Speaker Aslam rejected both points of order.

Nasheed raised a point of order, and said that Ameer had committed a financial crime and should be prosecuted for it.

“The Public Finance Act clearly declares the time frame within which the budget must be presented. They are twisting this here for political purposes. The state system must not be flouted,” he said.

“It is imperative that we put the finance minister on trial.”

Aslam rejected the point of order, and asked Ameer to present the budgets.

Lawmakers from Democrats continued to disrupt the sitting. They surrounded Ameer as he presented the budgets.

Article 49 of the Parliament’s Standing Orders stipulate that the annual state budget for the upcoming year must be presented to the Parliament by the finance minister by November 1.