A vote was taken in the parliament chamber to grant the legislative body the power to repeal a declared state of public health emergency in the Maldives has failed to gain the necessary support to pass.
A number of amendments submitted to the Public Health Act were passed in the parliament today. However, the final bill was passed without the amendments which give the parliament the power to revoke or prolong a declared state of public health emergency. 39 MPs voted for the bill, while 29 voted against passing the bill. 1 MP also abstained.
The bill includes amendments granting the President the power to declare a state of public health emergency instead of the Director-General of Public Health. The parliament plays no role in such a declaration under the current laws as well. Funadhoo MP submitted the amendment to the bill granting the President the powers, and was backed by Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam. 37 MPs voted for the amendment.
The Judiciary Committee which assessed the bill included other amendments such as making a declaration of the public health emergency similar to the state of emergency powers granted to the President under the Constitution of the Maldives. To do so, a parliamentary resolution is needed.
The bill had caused controversy and disagreement among the governing MDP as well.
North Fuvahmulah MP Ahmed Rasheed submitted the amendment to the Public Health Act in July of last year. After analyzing the bill, the Judiciary Committee passed the amendments and sent the bill to the parliament almost a week ago.
The main amendment of the bill involving the powers granted to the President to declare a state of public health emergency is as follows. Under the amendment, the Director-General of Public Health is to advise the Health Minister for such a declaration providing that there is sufficient proof and evidence necessitating such a declaration. The Health Minister is then to immediately advise the President.
Under the current law, the Director-General of Public Health is vested with the power to make such a declaration.
The bill also requires any spending which exceeds the government budget for such a public health emergency to be detailed to the parliament. The bill limits the spending of the government to the amount granted by the parliament. Once ratified, the amendment will take effect in the current situation with COVID-19 as well.