I was at the relauch of Dhiraagu post paid packages at Hulhule Island Hotel, Thursday evening. I sat at a table with a group of government (now interim: civil) servants. At the table small groups discussed about several things. In our small group the discussion revolved around that of atoll chiefs. A very interesting proposal came up for the stationing of atoll chiefs, in our discussion.
It would be indeed more efficient to have the atoll chiefs stationed in Male’, the country’s capital. This would allow them to liaise and coordinate with the relevant line ministries and government departments for the development of the atoll. Atoll chiefs can visit their respective atolls on a monthly basis depending on the need. Even now the atoll chiefs do not reside on all the islands of the atoll. They are more like attendants to visiting delegates of the government, according to reliable and informed sources.
The proposed setting up of offices of atoll chiefs in Male’ would expedite development of the atolls and cut down on expenditure for travel by government (future: civil service) officials to the atolls. The atolls administration or development Ministry would have their atoll office in the atoll which would be headed by a director general for administration and atoll development.
The atoll chief would be the representative of the people of the atoll who will function as the representative of the His Excellency the President, and will have the opportunity to carry out his functions as such, rather than as a representative of the Minister of Atolls Development (or Atolls Administration as maybe later called). It can also be that the HEP would in fact appoint an atoll chief from amongst the members elected by the people to represent them through local council elections.
Atoll chiefs would hold daily teleconferences with island chiefs, school heads, hospital managers and other key administrators on a scheduled basis twice a week.
In addition to the numerous benefits of this move, the government can actually implement this idea without much cost to the taxpayer. “Atholhuvehi” which is now used as a detention center by the Maldives Police Service can be handed back to its rightful owners.
The government can take a loan to put up the building from HSBC or the MCB and rent the first six floors of the 14 storey building which would be used as residences and the office complex for atoll chiefs. The entrance to the office complex would be to side roads while the entrance to the business complex would face the sea. Ofcourse, the basement will provide secure parking too. All this can happen in a matter of two years, and at no cost to the Finance Minister as it would be a self financing project.