President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday stated that decentralised development is costly and challenging, but the government is determined to stay the course and reshape the country through its decentralisation policies and “Jazeera Maldives” vision. He made the remark at the closing ceremony of the third Viavathi Raajje conference held in Gan Island of Laamu Atoll.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Solih said that the most concerning issue identified at the second Viavathi Raajje conference held in Ukulhas Island in Alifu Alifu Atoll earlier this year was the problems that arose while developing the land use plans for islands. However, the President noted that viable solutions have been proposed by the end of this third conference. He said that the outcomes discussed at the second Viavathi Conference were instrumental in guiding councils with their plans and that the administration is actively seeking ways to expedite the approval process for these land use plans.

President Solih also highlighted the discussion on broadening the role of Women's Development Committees (WDCs) and said that the issue was of utmost importance. He urged that their concerns be addressed as soon as possible by providing a conducive working environment and fiscal empowerment. The President said that simply creating a conducive environment for WDC representatives might help alleviate a number of their difficulties. He further expressed the need for allocating full-time allowances for the WDCs to reflect their commitment and said that the legal challenges in facilitating this decision would be discussed further.

The President announced that the government will begin allocating block grants quarterly, rather than monthly, at the beginning of next year. He said that island councils should be allocated funds based on their individual requirements and needs, rather than the practice that is currently in use where a flat amount is distributed amongst all the councils.

Over 270 individuals participated in the Viavathi Raajje conference, along with 107 council members and WDC representatives. The third conference of Viavathi Raajje targeted for the southern atolls of Maldives was attended by members of Atoll Councils, Island Councils, WDC including Dhaalu, Thaa, Laamu, Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaal Atolls, Addu City and Fuvahmulah City.