The leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Fayyaz Ismail, has commended the current administration under Mohamed Muizzu for its decision to continue the policies and programmes initiated by the previous MDP-led government concerning the regularisation of undocumented immigrants.

In an interview with the local news outlet, Adhadhu, Ismail, who also served as the Economic Minister in the previous administration, expressed his gratitude towards Ali Ihusaan, the Minister of Homeland Security and Technology. He lauded the current administration for following the path the previous MDP-led government laid out.

Ihusaan announced on Wednesday that a nationwide programme will be launched to identify undocumented migrant workers and allow them to regularise their status. The programme, set to commence on 2 May, aims to gather detailed information on migrant workers, a demographic for which Ihusaan said the government currently lacks precise data.

“They are executing precisely the initiatives we [the previous administration] inaugurated. We initiated the process of fingerprint collection to identify undocumented workers,” said Ismail. He, however, refuted Ihusaan’s claims that the government does not have precise data about the number of migrant workers in the country.

The issue of undocumented immigrants has been a significant challenge since the late 2000s, with the number of undocumented migrant workers witnessing a substantial increase. The majority of these workers in the Maldives originate from Bangladesh.

The previous MDP-led administration had halted the issuance of work permits for unskilled labour from Bangladesh as part of a broader strategy to address illegal immigration. However, the current administration has reversed this policy decision.

The former government also launched a programme to attain legal status for undocumented workers. The legislative limit on the number of migrant workers from a single country who are permitted to enter and work in the country at any given time is 100,000.