Finance minister hits back at critics: 'Not asking for a blank cheque'

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has hit back at critics regarding the government's proposition to suspend some provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Several members of the Parliament have criticized the government's proposal to increase the overdraw limit borrowable from the central bank. Responding to the critics at a press conference held Friday, Minister Ameer said the request to borrow from the central bank does not mean the government is asking for a blank cheque, or to print money. The minister said the current situation faced by the country is a special circumstance.

Minister Ameer said the government is requesting for an exception from subsections a) d) and e) of article 32 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act in order to increase the overdraw limit of the public bank account. While the law stipulates that an amount equivalent to 1% of the state's average revenue may be borrowed from the central bank, which amounts to approximately MVR 2 million, the current circumstance faced by the country is exceptional, and the government therefore wishes to increase the cap from MVR 2 million to MVR 4.2 billion, said the minister.

Speaking at the Parliament on Thursday, Deputy Speaker and Galolhu South MP Eva Abdulla said a full report detailing the program of how the government intends to utilize the additional funds must be presented to the central bank and the parliament. The report must also be publicized, said the MP.