Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Local Councils - can we afford these governance reforms?

The Parliament has passed a Bill on Decentralization, and formation of Atoll Councils, Island Councils, and a Local Government Authority. According to this Act, there will be an Atoll Council in every atoll to replace the existing Atoll Offices, and a minimum of 6 (six) Atoll Councilors will be elected to run the Affairs of the Atoll, and a Chairperson from these Councilors will be nominated as the head of the Atoll. As we are moving towards to decentralisation and empowering the local communities, these Atoll Councils are separate legal entities, and Councilors are elected by the people. An estimated Rf4 million per month will be incurred only to the salaries of the Atoll Councilors.

We are also getting Island Councils to replace the Island Offices, and each Island Council is to be run by Island Councilors. A minimum of 5 (five) Councilors will be there in each Island, some islands having 7 (seven) depending on their population size. So we would expect a minimum total of one thousand Island Councilors to be elected in the whole country. With a salary of Rf15,000 each, it would come to Rf15 million per month in salaries for only Island Councilors.

In total we will be spending about Rf19 million per month only on the salaries of these Atoll and Island Councilors. On top of that, there will be a new institution, the Local Government Authority, with a new set of staff and other expenditure.

End result? The Island Councilors will be from different political parties, even the Atoll Councilors will be from different political parties. The Local Government Authority will have members from different parties, and in the end, just like our Parliament, there will be minimal productive work done in all these institutions. The politicians in the Councils will get monthly fat salaries, and they will argue, fight, conspire, and promote their party policies. We would have a textbook model of democracy, local government, or decentralization, however, in practical terms, I don't envisage a situation where things would run as smoothly as they are outlined in the Act. Main reason is that we dont have enough people who are sincere, competent and with the will to govern, and make things better. Most of all, I don't think our country can afford it economically.


  1. the councils will be similar like parliment where you argue and do nothing and we pay big bucks to them for that. what is that money is spend for something productive.

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  3. There is absolutely no way that we can afford this type of de-centralisation; a total waste of money and resources. Yet, government and parliament members dont seem to understand the consequences.

    Look, Maldives have just 300,000 people. For a small advanced city we need at least half a million people. This is just for one city. These local councils are needed when there is several such cities to manage by the central government.

    Lets assume the islands will have 1000 inhabitants in average. Its the capacity of about condominiums. They have a small office with some security, administrators and gardeners. So, comparing this, the present atoll office system with some sort of administrative reform is enough for Maldives. We dont even need those councilors. That is the feasible and economical way for a country that has limited resources of income.

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