Parliament has passed an amendment to the Income Tax Act that grants the President the power to pardon income tax paid to the government from certain companies and projects.
The report published by the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs after researching the bill did not contain any major changes, and the bill was passed with 27 votes from the committee. One member voted against passing the bill.
Members of the opposition expressed great concern in regards to the amendment. Parliament representative for Gadhdhoo constituency Ahmed Zahir, who presented the bill on behalf of the government, stated that passing the bill as it was without any conditions and allowing the president to make tax exceptions as he pleased would lead to undesirable outcomes.
The bill mentions some incomes exempt from income tax. Exemptions include the President, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, the car, residence, incomes of household staff, and income of the driver assigned to the President by the state.
While the bill provides the President with the power to make tax exemptions, the project for which tax will be pardoned will be decided upon the advice from his Cabinet.
Opposition members claimed that allowing the president the power to pardon taxes may cause international tax authorities to blacklist Maldives.