Salaries for the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Maldives Police Service will be increased starting next month as was previously scheduled, President Mohamed Muizzu said on Friday, just a day after the Ministry of Finance introduced austerity measures to minimise government spending by capping, and strictly monitoring, all state expenditure above MVR 35,000.

Replying to a question during the President’s first public forum held at Sultan Park, Muizzu said MNDF and police salaries will be increased starting March.

The administration did not explain how this would affect current cashflow management or the recently announced austerity measures.

Muizzu, during his presidential campaign, first said that MNDF and police salaries would be doubled. However, he later explained that the increase would happen across his term in increments. There would be an initial increase of 35 percent in the first year, followed by a 25 percent increase in the second year, with the remaining 40 percent increase coming in the last year of his term.

According to local media reports, MNDF and police salaries are liable to increase annual state expenditure by MVR 600 million — an estimated MVR 400 million will be needed for the remaining 10 months.

MNDF and police salaries as well as allowances, even without the March pay rise, costs the state the most in terms of remuneration expenses — an estimated MVR 1 billion annually before accounting for the raise.

The state, in 2023, spent a total of MVR 1 billion on MNDF remuneration alone — MVR 370.2 million for salaries, MVR 605.8 million in allowances and MVR 25.4 million on retirement benefits.

For the police, the state, over the same period, spent a total of MVR 1.2 billion — MVR 510.9 million for salaries, MVR 731.7 million for allowances and MVR 33.4 million on retirement benefits.

The pay rises come at a time when the Ministry of Finance, in a bid to reduce state expenses and manage the precarious nature of the nation’s current cashflow, has urged all state agencies to implement, among other precautions, a halt in remuneration increases and for all expense above a MVR 35,000 threshold to be expressly approved by the ministry.