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News in Brief

Guest house inspector scheme launched

The Ministry of Tourism has today commenced a programme to train guest house inspectors.

The workshop was held at the National Centre for the Information Technology (NCIT), with 20 participants from 17 islands taking part as the first batch of inspectors to be trained under the scheme.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Hussain Lirar told Minivan News that the participants – selected from names forwarded by island councils – will assist the ministry’s inspectors in ensuring that guest houses maintain professional standards after the initial licenses are granted.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, the tourism ministry’s Director General Aishath Ali stressed the importance of maintaining standards in the country’s guest houses, reported Haveeru.

Ali said it was important to ensure that all visitors and guests left the Maldives with the intention of returning.

After having just 22 registered guest houses in 2009, over 200 guest houses are now registered with the tourism ministry – with a capacity of over 2,000 beds.

According to the Maldives Monetary Authority, quarter three of 2014 saw the average operational bed capacity increase by 4 percent when compared to the same period in 2013.

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Seminar on new Penal Code commences at Nasandhura Palace Hotel

A two-day seminar to create awareness in the legal community of the new penal code – to be implemented in April of this year – has commenced at Nasandhura Palace hotel Haveeru reports.

The programme, conducted with the assistance of the Commonwealth, will hear lectures from the Commonwealth secretariat’s legal and constitutional affair division’s legal advisor Mark Guthrie, Australian Chief Magistrate Ray Renaud, and UK judge Shameen Quraishee.

Speaking at the ceremony today, Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi expressed his joy over the introduction of the new penal code which he described to be a progressive step for the development of the Maldivian criminal justice system. The code was approved in the Majlis last year, four years after first being introduced.

Further, Justice Abdulla Didi thanked the Commonwealth for its continued efforts to aid the development of the Maldivian judiciary, assuring that the Maldivian legal system will maintain a close relationship with the organisation.

According to Haveeru, Maldivian court officials, magistrates, and judges along with other members of the legal community will attend the seminar.

Source: Haveeru

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Police arrest 9 individuals on drug possession charges in 48 hours

Police have detained nine individuals on suspicion of possessing illegal narcotics within the past 48 hours.

Three men were arrested on Monday (January 12) – two in Hulhumalé and one in Dhaalu Meedhoo, a further two men were taken in on Tuesday in Kudahuvadhoo and Villimalé, while four more were apprehended in Malé and Haa Alif Hoarafushi – two from each island.

All but one of the men, a Bangladeshi, were Maldivian and two – one from Hulhumalé and one from Hoarafushi – were minors.

A total of 74 packets thought to contain illegal substances were confiscated during the police’s investigations.

Last year saw the number of drug-related crimes reported to police fall by 20 percent, while home minister Umar Naseer has pledged to prioritise the fight against drug dealers, who he has noted have attempted to infiltrate police ranks.

After visiting the Netherlands in June to finalise arrangements for a dog squad to assist in the police’s anti-drug operations, the dogs are expected to be used in operations in the Maldives after having been trained in Sri Lanka.

Home affairs officials told media yesterday the kennels for the Faara Gema team of 16 dogs – based on the airport island of Hulhulé – were due to be finished next month.

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Maldivian airlines to upgrade fleet

Maldives’ national carrier Maldivian has announced it will be expanding its operational fleet, with an Airbus A-321 due to arrive sometime this month, reports local media.

Speaking to Vaguthu, an official from the national carrier said that the new airliner will start its journey towards the Maldives on January 19, from Spain, adding that the plane will be able to make the journey in one day.

The official said that the Airbus will be capable of carrying 200 passengers and that the flight will be operated by Maldivian pilots and engineers.

The airplane will start operating flights into three new Chinese cities starting from next month, with the flight being projected to bring around 1000 tourists every week.

Source: Vaguthu

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Commissioner of Police for Western Australia pays visit to the Maldives

Commissioner of Police for Western Australia Karl O’Callaghan is conducting an unofficial visit to the Maldives.

A police press statement released yesterday (January 12) said O’Callaghan was received at the airport by Deputy Police Commissioner Mohamed Sadhiq and former Deputy Police Commissioner (Rtd) Ibrahim Latheef – who also served as a special consultant at Western Australia Police.

Though O’Callaghan is on an unofficial visit, he is scheduled to meet the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and other executive officers explained the statement.

In addition, O’Callaghan is also scheduled to meet top government officials and also participate in a special forum where he will meet with all employees working with the police.

In August last year, a scholarship opportunity from University of Western Sydney (UWS) was unveiled for promising Maldivian police officers to participate in a three-year doctoral research course which would enable candidates to increase the capacity of the Maldivian police.

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MIRA publishes new tax ruling

The Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has published new regulations regarding the appointment of auditors assigned with the task of preparing financial statements submitted by taxpayers.

According to a tax ruling issued by MIRA on yesterday (January 12), when a taxpayer’s tax categorisation changes the same auditor can proceed with preparing financial statements after obtaining a special permission from the commissioner general of taxation.

The new ruling also states that audit firms can only be established after registering as a ‘partnership’ under the Company Act and obligates auditors to generate a report by March 31 of each year, according to a format provided by MIRA on the previous year’s audits.

This legally binding ruling signed by  Commissioner General of Taxation Yazeed Mohamed will supersede all previous tax rulings.

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Housing units from Gaza fund to be completed by end of January: Red Crescent

The Maldives Red Crescent has revealed that the housing units built in Gaza using the money collected in the Maldives through the Gaza fund will be completed by the end of January, reports local media.

CNM reported that the houses built by the Red Crescent are to home 100 families, and that they are being built near the rubble of houses destroyed during last year’s conflict with Israel.

US$1.9 million was collected from the Maldives for the Gaza fund through donation boxes set out across the islands as well as the proceeds of a media telethon.

CNM also reported that the funds have allowed for the purchase of medicine from Jordan, which has been handed over to Jordan’s Haashimee Charitable Association to be transferred to Gaza.

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MTCC to purchase US$36 million dredger

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has revealed plans to purchase a US$36 million land reclamation dredger, reports local media.

According to Vnews, the purchase of the dredger would make it the biggest and most expensive to be operated locally in the Maldives.

MTCC CEO Ibrahim Abdul Razzaq told Vnews that the dredger is a ‘hopper suction dredger’, which would be capable of reclaiming one hectare in just two days.

“This is an investment to ease the land reclamation projects done in the Maldives,” said Ibrahim. “We are currently talking with Holland’s IHC Company regarding the purchase, the dredger will be designed to be suitable for Maldives.”

Source: Vnews

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MMA announces shortlisted proposals for new rufiyya note designs

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has announced the shortlisted candidates in a competition to design the new Maldivian currency notes.

Proposal for the new notes to be released on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Maldivian independence were evaluated by an advisory committee of 13 members comprising of representatives from various technical fields including history, art, language, and economics.

The shortlisted candidates will present their proposal to the advisory committee on January 17, with the three best presentations given the opportunity to design the six notes to go into general circulation and the memorial note for 50 years of independence.

The MMA board of directors will make the final decision on which designs will be printed after considering the evaluation of the advisory committee.

After initially inviting designs for notes in September, the MMA extended the November 30 deadline for one month after concluding that the 60 submitted designs were all unsuitable for bank notes.

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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories