Gov't exerted influence on tax hike bill: Opposition

The main opposition, the PPM-PNC coalition has said that the government exerted influence on MPs to vote favorably on the tax increase bill.

The GST increase bill was moved by Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau on behalf of the government. The government proposed to increase TGST from 12 percent to 16 percent and GST from six percent to eight percent. The bill was passed in Parliament on Wednesday, with 55 MPs voting in favor of the tax increase bill, and 26 members voting against the bill. Those that voted against the bill include 14 members of the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Speaking at a press conference following Wednesday's Parliament sitting, PNC's PG leader and Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef said the government had exerted influence on some MPs and the Parliament Speaker. The vote was taken on Wednesday after the Parliament's presidency faced several challenges, he alleged. There was no other option for the Speaker but to ask for a vote in the bill, in fear that a no-confidence vote may be moved against him, said Shareef.

The MP further alleged that the tax increase bill was passed by exerting influence in such a way that main-ruling MDP MPs received financial gain and other benefits.

“We saw some of the members who advocated [against] the bill during the debate voting in favor of the bill when they voted today,” Shareef said.

MP Adam Shareef went on to claim that the government had extreme influence over the MPs. However, some MPs listened to the concerns of the people, and 26 MPs voted against the tax hike bill, he noted. He said the government has lost its supermajority in Parliament, a fact that has become evident in the Parliament today. The opposition coalition will make progress in parliament in the coming days, he said.

The MP noted that the opposition is very concerned about the passage of the tax increase bill in parliament.

"Even if the bill is passed and sent, we urge the government to contemplate it further. We would like to ask the government to take this bill into consideration once more before implementing it and send it back to parliament," he said.