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Police obstructs “India Out” rally by youths – key activists claim major infringement of freedom of expression.

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Maldives Police Service has obstructed an opposition youth led motorcycle rally against the Indian military forces in the Maldives under the banner of “India Out”.

The motorcycle rally which was organized by the youth wing of the opposition alliance was scheduled for 1545 today. However, Maldives Police Service published a press release accusing the opposition youth wing of planning a riot amidst the planed “India Out” rally.

 

In their statement Maldives Police Service stated that the press release was on the subject of the motor rally organized by “PPM” and that the Maldives Police Service has received information that a riot was planned in the rally. They further stated that they believe that such riots are a “danger to a lot of people”. They affirmed in their press release that they would not allow for the motorcycle rally to proceed.

Media personality turned youth activist Abdulla Shaayan Shahid who played a key role in organizing the rally described the decision by the Maldives Police Service as an infringement on the right to freedom of expression. He stated that “This is unacceptable. We want to know what exact riot the police is saying that we have planned here. This is a peaceful rally, we want our voices to be heard, the world should know that we want Indian military in the Maldives to leave our country”.

One of the leading youth activists, Hussain Naais stated that the rally was obstructed at the advice of the new Indian High Commissioner in Maldives. “Most of us are students, this is a youth rally to voice against Indian military people in Maldives. I know why Police decided to obstruct us. New Indian high Commissioner is feeling the pressure now, the police is obstructing us following his advice. They are scared that their plans are being found out. Our voice is slowly being heard by the world. India cannot station their military here. And the police cannot continue to attack our right to freedom of expression.

Meanwhile opposition leader President Abdulla Yameen has embarked on a nationwide rally to strengthen the “India Out” campaign. As a part of the campaign a delegation led by President Abdulla Yameen has visited K.Huraa, K.Thulusdhoo and K. Guraidhoo.

 

Updated at 1709 on 17 December 2021.

Reports are coming in that Maldives Police Service has utilized use of pepper spray to disperse the rallly goers gathered in front of the oppostion party office.

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Chief of Defence Force inducted into International Fellows Hall of Fame

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Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal has been inducted into the International Fellows Hall of Fame at the National Defence University (NDU) in Washington, DC, United States (US).

Major General Shamaal received the award at the International Fellows Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Sydney Sheraton Grand Hotel. Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, the President of the NDU, presented the certificate and memento of induction into the International Fellows Hall of Fame.

Major General Shamaal is the first Maldivian to be awarded the honour. He and four others from four countries have been awarded the honour. He completed a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies from the NDU in 2012 and was awarded the Distinguished Honour Graduate of the course.

The International Fellows Hall of Fame was established in 1999. The purpose of the programme is to provide a prestigious and visible means of honouring NDU graduates who have attained through merit the highest positions in their nation’s armed forces, service component, or government, or who have held an equivalent position in a multinational organisation. The members of the International Fellows Hall of Fame are recognised in a formal ceremony on the NDU campus. Their photographs are displayed in Marshall Hall in the Hall of Fame area.

 

Source: psmnews

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Management plans to be implemented this year for two protected areas in Baa Atoll

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The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office has stated management plans will be formulated and implemented this year for two more areas in the atoll declared as protected areas.

Baa Atoll currently has 10 protected areas, of which three areas have a management plan. These three areas are Hanifaru, Olhugiri and Mendhoo region.

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office revealed management plans are being formulated for two more areas, to be implemented this year. As such, management plans are to be implemented this year for the areas of Angafaru and Goidhoo Koaru.

Angafaru was declared protected on June 6, 2009. The protected area includes Dhonfanuthila, Dhiguthila and Mahaanagaa. The area used to be a breeding ground for both grey and white tip reef sharks. However, reef shark numbers have dramatically decreased from the site due to overfishing

Goidhoo Koaru, located on the northern side on the inhabited island of Goidhoo, was declared protected on June 5, 2011. This area has the highest biodiversity and largest mangrove forest within Baa Atoll. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems within the nation and has a high biodiversity population of mangrove associated vertebrates and invertebrates. This site is also a popular roosting site for migratory birds such as the Ruddy Turnstone and Northern Shoveler.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has declared Baa Atoll as a biosphere reserve for an additional 10 years. UNESCO has instructed the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office to formulate and implement effective management plans for all protected areas in the region.

 

Source: psmnews

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World Bank welcomes proposed changes to GST

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The World Bank has welcomed proposed changes to Goods and Services Tax (GST) and has expressed support to the Government of Maldives in implementing economic reforms.

The Maldives Public Expenditure Review (PER) report published by World Bank noted the economy of Maldives is on the verge of recovery after an unprecedented shock caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. The report said key reforms can enhance the quality of public spending, strengthen debt management and debt transparency and collect more revenues to finance the development needs of the Maldives.

Furthermore, the report highlighted much of the increase in public spending and debt over the past five years has financed investments in basic services and infrastructure, especially housing. and while these investments can boost long-term growth, making public spending more efficient, transparent, and targeted towards the neediest groups, it is essential to contain the rapid rise in spending and debt. Such reforms are particularly important because economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks such as a global recession and climate change-induced natural disasters, noted the World Bank.

Regarding the report, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer said the report supports the efforts to reduce the risks to public finances and ensure that public money is well spent in order to secure a more resilient and prosperous future for all Maldivians.

Many of the reforms proposed in the PER intend to make the distribution of public spending more equitable. In the housing sector, for example, implementing income-based targeting would help improve the financial viability of the Rent-to-Own program while also promoting home ownership. As for public sector wages, the National Pay Commission could consider consolidating or eliminating most of the allowances that drive inequity and cap the overtime allowance. The new Public Service Pay Framework is a key first step in the right direction but strengthening wage bill controls and other related reforms is also needed to ensure that the reform is successful. Finally, reforms to eliminate double pensions in the civil sector and improve the coverage of the pension system are needed to ensure that both current and future retirees can benefit from the generous scheme.

The PER is a core analytical product of the World Bank which assesses the quality of government spending and identifies key fiscal reforms that countries need to undertake to achieve better growth and development outcomes. It is the first PER for the Maldives since 2002.

Source: psmnews

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