President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Sunday ratified amendments to the Decentralization Act.
The President ratified the amendments during the ongoing symposium at Crossroads Maldives with local councils, 'Viyavethi Raajje'. This is the first time a president of Maldives ratified a bill at such an event in recent history.
While it was a presidential pledge of President Solih to empower local councils, President Solih released some previously withheld authorities to local councils which were earlier under the mandate of the city councils during the first 100 days of his administration.
As per his presidential pledge, a bill was drafted on amendments to the Decentralization Act and sent to the parliament for approval. The bill was assessed by the parliament and passed on November 5.
The amendments earmark five percent of the annual budget to local councils, and accord powers to generate revenue using the resources available in its jurisdiction. MVR 1.6 billion has been allocated as grant aid to local councils from the 2020 national budget as per the amendment.
Other means proposed in the amendments to ensure the financial stability of the local councils also include allocating 40 percent of revenue from leasing land, islands and lagoons, and 100 percent of the revenue generated from land and other resources in the direct jurisdiction of the council. All Public Sector Investment Programmes (PSIP) under MVR 5 million will also fall under local councils as sectoral grants.
An amendment has also been ratified that fixes the term of local councils to five years, and ensuring that women fill 33.3 percent of all council seats.
The amendments are mainly focused on realising the hopes and dreams of an 'island-style Maldives’ by granting better access to resources to ensure regional sustainable development and empowerment to local councils. According to the President's Office, it will be achieved through the devolution of powers reflecting on financial liberalisation and assuring revenue mechanisms to warrant sustainable development and empowerment.