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Fooling SOME of the people ALL of the time

It is still surprising how so many people can still be made to believe in something if enough people go around shouting about it.

A case in point is this piece of legislation about revisions to Law No. 31/79, Import Export Law of Maldives. Submitted purely in order to prevent and delay the passage of bills submitted by Nasheed to protect, in his words, ‘the service chiefs’ (chief of defence and commissioner of police) and the other more ominous bills due to enter the parliament floor soon.

This is a bill that was tabled, debated, argued upon and sent to the relevant committee, where members spent countless hours amending the bill. The committee version of the bill was even finalized and signed and sent to the full majlis. In keeping with the practice of the majlis, the speaker of the new 17th majlis, sent the bill, WITH the committee amendments and their report back the government. However, in its haste to totally prevent, or at least to delay the debate on the bills relating to the protection of the services chiefs and other issues that may be tabled, MDP hastened to re-submit the bill and (surprise, surprise) completely forgotten to include the amendments proposed by the majlis committee. This has confounded so many people, that even MDP’s own MP (Aslam from North Hithadhoo) was complaining about the foolishness in tabling the bill again in its original form without incorporating the revisions and amendments prepared by the majlis committee after so many hours of consultation and debate.

But that only means that some of MDP own has also been kept in the dark about the actual reason why the bill has been submitted, re-submitted, viz. to delay the debate of more contentious issues until the witch hunt commission can put some opposition members behind bars or finally succeed in intimidating them.

There can simply be no other reason. The bill simply does not make any economic sense. No first year economic student in any university would submit such a foolish, irreverent, impudent and irrelevant piece of tomfoolery in the name of economics and good governance.

The objective of the bills is supposed to be, supposed being the operational word here, the attempt to make life more affordable. If that is the case, the bill should be thrown out and the government should be reprimanded for wasting the precious time of the majlis.

Let’s take a pause. How do you make life and living more affordable? If the objective is short term, the solutions are many. Increase Salary. Reduce Prices by abolishing import duty. Prohibit price hikes. Ban Inflation. Oh Yes, increase the value of the currency by lowering the exchange rate by legislation or regulation.

Yeah. Those are the solutions. And they will work, if the objective is short term. Those solutions only work in the short term. Repeat only in the short term. In the long term they will be counter-productive. And the long term refers not to one or more years. Here the long term can be as short as 4-6 months.

The real and only way to make life more affordable is to improve the economy. Increase GDP growth. Get the economy moving. There are no other sustainable solutions. If measures to re-energize the slowing economy is not introduced, and bloody quickly too, the economy is due to come to a grinding halt. Dollars will become more scarce as the reductions in tourist arrivals will really start to bite. Negative effects will be further exacerbated as fishery industry continues its decline and the construction industry grinds to a halt.

Quick and immediate solutions to these problems are the ones that will keep the economy alive. Measures and mature steps to counter those issues are what we need to address now.

However, what is being proposed is a bill to reduce import duty as if that would reduce of the cost of living. It would not. Not even in the short term. Snake Oil and Dragons Claw would work better.

However, campaign promises have to be kept. Superficial, insincere and in the end counterproductive moves designed to show to some people that MDP government is trying to make life more affordable has to be undertaken. The drama has to go on.

Meanwhile the majlis has got caught in the drama. Two and more days of full majlis debates have already been lost- needlessly. More hours will be lost in committee time. The bill would surely pass, as no member has the courage to speak against the utter waste and futility of this bill. They all have to make the grand gesture.

The bill would pass. Government revenue that is already in decline (even while expenditure increases) would decline further. Without effort to revive the economy the currency would further loose its value. And so on and so forth.

Shakespeare or some equally brainy chap once said that, ‘all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women, merely players for the grand drama that mdp is playing’. Or maybe I got that wrong.

Citizens of the country. Bend over. You are about to have a warm and intimate feeling in a region where the sun don’t normally shine.

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