Low daily bank withdrawals hamper campaign
The commission has already requested the central bank to facilitate ways for money to be withdrawn from the dedicated campaign expenses account.
Fathmath Ahmed Shareef
Candidates have expressed concern that the limits on withdrawing cash from banks in Maldives have created major obstacles to access funds to spend on the presidential campaign.
The law allows each candidate to spend a maximum of MVR 564 million or MVR 2,000 per voter for the September 9 presidential election.
In addition, a candidate can:
Receive a maximum of MVR 2.8 million from an individual donor
Receive a maximum of MVR 11.2 million from a legal entity
There are only 20 days or less than a month left until the election.
Due to the limited daily maximum withdrawals from banks, there is nowhere near enough for some candidates to spend in the few days now.
JP candidate Gasim Ibrahim on Saturday said that he would not be able to spend even MVR 100 million withdrawn from the bank within these days.
Atoll Times has been able to confirm that some other candidates have also expressed this concern.
Speaking at a campaign rally held by the JP in Sh. Kanditheemu on Saturday, Gasim said that despite having millions of Rufiyaa, the cap on daily withdrawals of the dedicated campaign expenses account is MVR 190,000.
He alleged that the obstacles to withdrawal was doctored by the government. He said "such nonsense" is being done to 'trap, lock up and harass' the opposition candidates.
When asked about the concern, Elections Commission Vice-President Ismail Habeeb told Atoll Times that the complaint had come from other candidates besides Gasim. The commission has already requested the central bank to facilitate ways for money to be withdrawn from the dedicated campaign expenses account, he added.
"The candidates expressed their concerns at the meetings held after the nomination process. This is a special situation and we have discussed the arrangements with the MMA," Habeeb said.
He said the EC would work to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Bank of Maldives (BML) Public Relations Manager Mohamed Saeed told Atoll Times that a special rule has been introduced to facilitate the deposit and withdrawal of money from the accounts opened by the candidates in connection with the presidential election. However, he did not elaborate, saying he would provide the information later.
Regular accounts have a daily withdrawal limit of MVR 25,000.
According to the law, a dedicated account must be opened in the name of each candidate in a bank in Maldives to cover election expenses. Election-related expenses and campaign donations must be deposited into the account.
It is prohibited to conceal the source of donations
Donations received by a candidate in connection with the election shall be accepted only by the candidate or the candidate's official election agent
The official election agent of the candidate shall keep records of the person, manner and amount of the money received