President Mohamed Muizzu has returned the ninth amendment bill to the Maldives Land Act to parliament for reconsideration. This amendment, which was aimed at accelerating the transfer of land plots allocated under the Binveriya scheme to their rightful owners within a three-month window, now hangs in the balance.

The President’s Office released a statement indicating that President Muizzu invoked Article 91(a) of the Constitution to return the bill. The Binveriya scheme, a brainchild of the former administration, was conceived as a solution to the housing crisis in the Malé region. It proposed the allocation of land plots to residents of Malé from newly reclaimed land in Giraavarufalhu, Gulhifalhu, and Hulhumalé.

The amendment to the legislation was initially proposed on 18 December by South Galolhu MP Meekail Naseem, representing the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The bill garnered unanimous support from 35 lawmakers and was passed by the outgoing parliament on 29 April.

The amendment bill introduced articles to Sections 12 and 13 of the law, mandating the government to transfer land plots issued under housing schemes to the rightful recipients within six months from the date the final list of recipients is published. The bill also stipulated that if land plots have yet to be transferred to the rightful owners at the time of the bill’s ratification, the government should complete the transfer within three months from the date of ratification. Additionally, the amendment mandates the government to hand over deeds to the land plots within six months of publishing the final list of recipients.

However, after the tenure of the 19th parliament ended on 15 May, President Muizzu made the decision to return the bill to parliament for reconsideration.

Under the Binveriya scheme, the Solih administration published a list of 9,003 applicants slated to receive land plots. The return of the amendment bill for reconsideration marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing discourse about land allocation and housing in the the Malé region and signals a potential shift in policy direction.