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Maldives - Military Spending

The 2013 state budget included a 14 percent increase to the 2012 defence budget that stood at MVR 797.9 million (US$51.7 million). Amid attempts to reduce the states budget deficit, MVR 130 million (US$8.6million) had been allocated to defense spending, bringing the total to MVR 930.9 million (US$60.3 million) for this year. Authorities claim that the increased spending for the year is needed to cover additional duties such as the transfer of aviation security under the Ministry of Defence.

Budget Review Committee Member and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Colonel Nasheed stated in January 2013 that his party held concerns over the level of increased defence spending in the recently approved 2013 budget.

Through the budget review committees evaluation of the state budget, MP Nasheed claimed that he and other members of the MDP had raised questions regarding the increase in the defence budget. While we understand national security is paramount, we did find the 14 percent increase to the defence budget a bit fishy, he claimed. We [MDP budget review committee members] raised questions regarding our concern over the increase, but unfortunately we do not have the majority on the committee.

According to the Budget Review Committee report, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) advised the committee to reduce total expenditure to MVR 15 billion and attempt to reduce public debt. In order to reduce the budget deficit, the budget review committee made cuts of MVR 1.6 billion (US$103.7 million) to the MVR 16.9 billion (US$1 billion) state budget proposed by Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad. Parliament eventually passed an amended MVR 15.3 billion (US$992 million) state budget.

Despite the recommendations, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim defended the MVR 130 million increase, telling Minivan News that the money was needed to accommodate the newly established Aviation Security Command. The operations have been put under the Ministry of Defence and National Security. President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik announced the establishment of the Aviation Security Command On Tuesday (January 1) in order to formulate aviation security policies and procedures.

Aside from undertaking new responsibilities under the Aviation Security Command, Defence Minister Nazim said additional improvements for Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) personnel welfare were also being sought. We are also looking to improve accommodation for MNDF personnel, and we will be looking to open an operating theatre and Intensive care unit in the military hospital, said Nazim.

When asked as to why the military hospital needed to be expanded given the size of the MNDF, Nazim said that uniformed personnel waiting in line to receive treatment at the other two hospitals in Male wasted valuable service time. The hospital is not just utilised by the military, it is also used by the police force and immigration and customs officers, he added.

When addressing the issue of increased defence spending within the budget, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP and budget review committee member Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that national security was an important consideration needing to be made. You are talking about national security, and now aviation security for a whole country. Yes the budget is more than reasonable. The DRP is under no influence from the government and this time we are not concerned over the increase in the defence budget, Mausoom said.

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