Official translation of the Presidential Address 2017
06 February 2017, Ref: --

بسـم اللَّه الرّحـمٰـن الـرّحيـم

اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى سيدنا محـمَّدٍ، خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين.

Honourable Speaker, and esteemed Members of this Majlis;

الســّلام عليــكم ورحـمــة اللّـه وبـركاتـه،

With the grace of Allah Almighty, the past year has been one of success for the Administration in meeting the needs of the people. An increased number of impactful development projects have been carried out within the last year; at a previously unprecedented speed.

Honourable Speaker;

I have always maintained my commitment to the members of this esteemed Majlis that national interest will prevail in all matters. “Protecting the dignity and safeguarding the citizen, ensuring their safety and security, and establishing peace and harmony of the country”, is one of the most important pledges of this Administration. As a result of the work done within the past three years to uphold this ideal, we have nurtured a safer climate compared to the typically dangerous and risky conditions of the past.

Based on initial findings of research studies on crime in the Maldives, initiated by the President’s Office and carried out by the Maldives National University, I am happy to note that there was a considerable decrease in crime since 2014.

The Administration intends to carry out a national programme promoting Islamic unity and history, and to boost religious and national spirit among Maldivians, especially among students and youth. With God’s grace the project will commence in the following months.

The biggest social challenge faced in the Maldives is a shortage of housing. As part of the Administration’s Social Housing Projects, construction of a total of 1,500 housing units have been completed in Hulhumalé, GA. Vilingili, GDh. Thinadhoo, Gn. Fuvammulah and Addu City. The construction of a total of 600 housing units in Sh. Komandoo, R. Maduvvari, B. Eydhafushi, Lh. Hinnavaru, Lh. Naifaru, Dh. Meedhoo, Dh. Kudahuvadhoo and Addu City Feydhoo will hopefully commence during this year.

To expand the Maldives’ land area, land reclamation and shore protection projects have been carried out in four islands during the past year. Land reclamation has begun in an additional three islands.

Honourable Speaker;

We hope to launch, within the year, a project for bait fish farming; in order to solve the seasonal problem of scarcity faced by fishermen. And production of fish meal using waste from fish and fish products, which is required in the mari-culture industry, will begin in three parts of the country.

To improve operations of MIFCO, the company has been brought under STO, which has shown much positive results.

Felivaru Fisheries Factory has been upgraded to meet the quality requirements of major European supermarket chains, and canned fish produced in the Maldives are now being exported to these supermarkets.

Refrigeration facilities to store fish bought straight from fishermen will hopefully be established in Addu City this year.

Agricultural skills development programmes were conducted in 26 islands last year, under the policy to assist in increasing profits within the agricultural industry, and improving capability.

With the changes brought to the leasing of islands, in a manner that was more beneficial to those interested in developing and managing uninhabited islands, government revenue has multiplied.

A program will begin, hopefully this year, to locally grow five varieties of imported agricultural products, in order to minimise imports.

As a result of the work within the past three years to encourage youth participation in fisheries and agriculture, and as a result of the resources established for fishermen, a total 6,235 jobs have been created within these two industries alone.

Honourable Speaker;

In 2016, one of the biggest achievements in education was that every 7 in 10 candidates who sat for the GCE O’level and SSC examinations passed in 5 subjects. This is the first time the Maldives has reached its goal of a 60% pass percentage at a national standard.

Pre-school education has been officially recognised as a part of the education system, and free pre-school education is being provided in all inhabited islands. I am happy to note that in 2016 the Maldives has already achieved the development goal to provide free pre-school education by 2030.

With the changes brought to the education system regarding capability, skills and needs of school-aged children, and to include all children in the school system, a vocational stream was introduced, whereby 40% of students are now enrolled in skills training for different industries in the Maldives. This year special education teachers will be available at all schools across the Maldives, for students with disabilities.

The Administration’s aim is to improve the quality of healthcare services in the Maldives. And to increase public trust in the main government hospital, IGMH. Also to minimize the expenditure by Maldivians for healthcare overseas.

Last year the administration accorded the highest priority towards establishing all new health services at IGMH. In this regard IGMH established, and commenced services of, the National Cardiac Centre; with a National Uro-Renal and Fertility Centre also established where patients are being treated for kidney diseases and renal issues. Also last year, the commencement of digital x-ray services at IGMH realised an important step towards the use of the latest technology in treatment.

A 100 bed hospital to be built at Addu City has been awarded. The hospital will hopefully be opened next year.

In addition, to provide better health services in the North, the assignment of upgrading the Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital to a 150 bed multi-specialty tertiary hospital is being carried out.

In order to extend the services being provided via Aasandha, last year, a total of 80 super specialists visited 14 atolls and treated 5,427 patients under the super specialist program that began in 2015.

Honourable Speaker;

As providing a healthy and safe environment for the children is the responsibility of every society, special awareness programs were conducted last year for children, parents and teachers, in protecting children from abuse and to establish an environment for children to flourish.

Different programs are being carried out to ensure the rights of individuals with disabilities, and to promote their wider participation. Also, 277 individuals with disabilities; capable of performing in jobs have been given employment opportunities.

A lot is being done by the Administration to fulfil basic needs and to provide a peaceful and safe environment to wards of the state. It brings me heartfelt joy to note that great work is being done by the Administration, with partnership contributions from various NGOs and volunteers, to hire more professionals to cater for the increased number of wards of the state.

Beginning from October 2016, skill development programs are being conducted aimed at the unemployed. Within the last year, various short-term courses were conducted for 600 youth in different professions.

The project of establishing sports arenas in islands with a population higher than 1,000 have commenced of which work in 96% of islands have begun. By the end of the year, 80% of the work will be completed.

I am happy to note the various sporting successes Maldives achieved last year internationally; Maldivian sportspersons and teams have won 4 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 22 bronze medals in various sports.

Respected Speaker;

The harbours of 13 islands were completed last year. Harbour development projects are currently underway in 43 islands. While the construction of jetties in 8 islands, of small populations, facing difficulty in inter-island travel, will be carried out this year.

As part of the work being done by the Administration to establish sewerage systems in the islands, projects were carried out in 56 islands at different stages in 2016. Of these, the design stage was completed in 32 islands, while contractors have been confirmed for 11 islands. Additionally, in 2016, sewerage systems were installed in 21 islands, and service commenced in 8 islands. This year will see sewerage projects, at different phases, conducted in 46 islands.

In 2016, installation of clean drinking water systems, were carried out in 40 islands at different stages, and this year 28 such projects will be carried out. Of these, the design stage in 19 islands have been completed while contractors have been confirmed for 16 islands; and out of the 16 islands where work had commenced, it has been completed in four islands.

Under a special project for installing clean drinking water systems, in 2016 installations were in 86 islands of which work was completed, and services commenced, in 15 islands – work in the remaining islands will be continue this year.

Shore Protections projects in islands facing soil erosion were conducted in 22 islands, of which, projects were completed on 12 islands last year – six projects were assigned to contractors and work commenced during the year. This year projects will begin in 3 islands and installation of water drainage systems will begin in 3 islands.

During the year, work of building regional airports in HDh Kulhudhuffushi, Sh Funadhoo, F Nilandhoo, GDh Maavarulu and GDh Fares’maathodaa will commence under the Administration’s initiative to establish easy air transportation to different regions of the Maldives.

Honourable Speaker;

In 2016, projects towards establishing garbage disposal in 21 islands commenced, and provision of equipment required for waste management has begun in 10 islands. By the grace of the almighty, projects for building yards in 37 islands will begin within this year.

Last year, land reclamation for industrial work space was completed in South West of Malé and waste management work shifted to the area. The waste produced in Malé will be packed in compacted containers and transferred, without being stationed in a common waste ground, from Malé on a daily basis.

In terms of the Administration initiative to produce 30% of electricity needed for daily consumption via renewable energy sources by the year 2018, work was carried out last year in 112 islands at different levels.

In 2017 the project will be underway in 83 islands, by which 12 megawatt of electricity will be produced.

Honourable Speaker;

The Maldivian economy has increased to 3.9% in 2016, and is expected to grow up to 4.7% in 2017.

In the past year, the inflation rate was less than 1%, at an average of 0.4%. Last year too, the rate was maintained below 2%. The Administration’s policy will seek to continue to maintain the rate below 2% in 2017.

While the State’s receivable was recorded as 18.1 billion Rufiyaa for the year 2016, expenditure was recorded as 22.4 billion Rufiyaa for the year. By the end of 2017, it is estimated that 22.2 billion Rufiyaa will be spent with an estimated 21.9 billion rufiyaa received by the State. As such it is estimated that the deficit at 2017 will be reduced to 303 million Rufiyaa with a primary balance profit of 1.1 billion Rufiyaa. The projected budget deficit of 2017 is estimated to be less than 1%; at 0.5% of GDP. For the year 2016, the rate of income per capita was recorded as 8,063 US dollars.

In order to finance vital development projects, this Administration signed a total of five loans with a total of 4.79 billion Maldivian Rufiyaa in the year 2016. In 2017 the Administration will continue to seek overseas assistance to fund development projects in the Maldives.

Under the many attempts to diversify the Maldivian economy, 56 investments have been registered, excluding those in the tourism industry. Through such investments, and within five years, 1.483 billion USD have been proposed as initial investments to be invested in the Maldives.

Under the development work within the special economic zone, the detailed development plan for the I-haven project, which is to be commenced in the north Maldives, will be completed by April this year. This will be followed by a drive to secure foreign investments in order to commence physical work on the project.

In order to increase economic investment in the Maldives during the last year, major investments projects were undertaken towards improving airport and seaport facilities to ease the transportation difficulties in the Maldives. Hence, the Administration has spent a total of 900 million US dollars within the past three years for the development of Velana International Airport.

Apart from this, in order to counter the challenges faced by the Malé port, the Administration has spent 140 million Rufiyaa to upgrade vehicles and equipment used to clear goods which in turn reduced the time taken for the whole clearing process. Moreover, in order to find a solution to the limited space in Malé port some of the operations of goods clearing have been relocated to Hulhumalé. Additionally, work has commenced on a cold storage facility to store perishable goods and as well as to increase the capacity of goods storage.

Under the work initiated by the Administration to develop small and medium enterprises, credit guarantees were increased from 50 million to 100 million, and it was made possible for first-time business entrepreneurs or established entrepreneurs who seek to develop their business further to obtain loans without mortgages.

Within the past three years socio-economic, urban development projects and productivity increasing initiative undertaken by the Administration has created an estimate of 64,000 jobs for the youth all over the country. It is one of the key pledges of the Administration to create 94,000 jobs; under the youth manifesto. Taking into account the number of resorts to be opened this year, as well as the main projects to be commenced, 2017 will be rich in job opportunities.

Honourable Speaker;

The main aim of this Administration is development, and to enhance the quality of life within the community. Therefore, this Administration accords top priority to ensure that Maldives is a welcoming climate for all kinds of investments. As such the government is working on establishing a dispute resolution mechanism which is vital for the development of the Maldivian economy. As part of this and to solve insurance disputes in the Maldives, the Administration is working on establishing a commercial court and an internationally recognised arbitration centre.

Since Tourism is the main driving force of the Maldivian economy, the Administration is committed towards broadening investment opportunities with a view of increasing State revenue.

In the last three years, 20 resorts and one tourist hotel have been opened. By the end of this Administration’s five year term, the aim is to develop 50 new resorts of which 11 resorts has already been developed within the last year in six atolls. Furthermore, 135 tourist guesthouses, have been registered.

Hopefully by the end of the year 25 tourist resorts will be developed in 13 atolls and a tourist hotel will be developed in GA. Kooddoo increasing the bed capacity in the industry by 5,275.

Honourable Speaker;

By the grace of God, the year 2016 has been a successful year for the Maldives in the international arena where respect for the Maldives intensified and we were able to protect and sustain national peace and harmony.

However, withdrawing the Maldives from the Commonwealth was the hardest decision taken in the history of the country’s foreign policy.

Last year, a lot of work was carried out to further strengthen existing bilateral relations between other countries and Maldives, which resulted in more activities at United Nations forums, by the Maldives.

By the grace of God, our diplomats will work together with other countries in mutual respect towards creating more development opportunities.

During the year, the Administration will work harder to ease the visa processes for Maldivians travelling abroad. The administration will especially focus on those Maldivians who live abroad and students studying abroad, to ensure that they are better assisted by consulates and diplomatic missions.

Honourable Speaker;

One of the main aims of the Administration is the prompt fulfilment of the pledges by the government to the public. By God’s will during the first three years of this administration, we have undertaken several successful developmental projects all across the country. We have restored happiness and contentment to the people. We have ensured peace and harmony within society. By God’s will, this Administration reiterates to the esteemed members of the Maldivian Parliament that we will constantly work on bringing prosperity to our beloved country in the coming days.

May the Almighty grant us the wisdom to remain steadfast in our Faith! May Allah bless the work being done to safeguard the peace of this nation! May Allah guide us, keep us resilient, and give us patience in the work being done by this esteemed Majlis, myself, the administration, and all Maldivian people working towards national development! Ameen.

وما توفيقى إلاّباللَّـه، عليه توكّلت، وإليه أنيب.

والسّـلام عليـكم ورحمــة اللّـه وبركاتـه.

 

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The President's Office
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Republic of Maldives
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