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.