The government, in a significant shift towards fiscal responsibility, has initiated efforts to reduce the number of political appointees across government offices, a move that aligns with calls from international financial organisations to curb government spending amidst the country’s ongoing economic difficulties.

The administration has appointed approximately 40 political figures to each of the 22 ministries over the past six months. This practice has come under scrutiny as the nation grapples with financial challenges, prompting calls for the government to reconsider its policy on political appointments.

Despite persistent inquiries from local media through the Right to Information Act, the government has chosen to withhold the exact number of political appointees. Nevertheless, reports from government-aligned media sources indicate a strategic plan to reduce the number of political appointees in each ministry to about 25.

This reduction strategy involves dismissing certain appointees based on performance evaluations, while others may be offered new positions within state-owned enterprises. Recent reports have confirmed that some appointees have already been dismissed over the past month, signalling the beginning of this new policy’s implementation.

The administration’s chief spokesperson, Heena Waleed, has yet to confirm this move. “Our ministries are staffed with political appointees strictly based on the workload and requirements,” Waleed told a local media outlet.

She further assured that the administration would not hesitate to dismiss any appointee who fails to meet performance standards, echoing President Muizzu’s commitment to maintaining a high-performing team.

This initiative follows President Muizzu’s pre-election promise to keep the number of political appointees under 700. However, political analysts suggest that the actual number of appointments may have significantly exceeded or even doubled the pledged figure.

The decision to cut back on political appointees is timely, given repeated warnings from international financial agencies to the Maldives about the need for austerity measures. These organisations argue that cutting political appointments and controlling government expenditure are critical steps for the country to overcome its current financial challenges.