Sunday, November 21, 2004

Register As A Fageeru, Get Some Easy Money, Newest Scheme In Town

by Mujuthaba

The issue of “fageerun” or the poor people has been a much talked about subject in this country. This talk comes with a new frenzy specially during the time of Ramadan. Most of the ward chiefs in the Male' claim that the numbers of poor people registered this year is less than last year. But these numbers has to be digested with a pinch of salt as they are only absolute numbers. This does not take in to consideration the increase in population in Male' during the last year. Neither does it take into consideration that many people could not register themselves as poor people as they did not have the necessary identification to do that. It's become fashionable to demand ID cards in Male'. For instance you even need an ID card to go to rummage through the garbage in Male'. So this is one city where you are expected to be poor in style.

Jokes apart, the issue of these poor people is something the Government should have tackled long ago. For instance is there a criteria, where by you are proclaimed or judged as a poor person, like a minimum per capita? Where there is no income tax and book keeping is not required by the law this is going to be a challenge.

But it's high time that Government tried to categorize the income levels so that we could properly identify the poor people and really give them the help they deserve. For right now, anyone who is shameless enough to say that he is poor and deserves the donation is entitled it. The government has no ways of cross checking the system. Theoretically I could fool the Government in to believing that I am a poor person and could use this money to buy, say, drugs very easily.

The Government also has very loose guidelines to guide whether somebody is a poor person. For example anybody who has a big debt or loan could fall under this category. This could mean even Buruma Qasim with all his money could still quote all his unpaid loans and proclaim himself to be a poor person.

Last yeah Maldives saw 67,478.00 people registered as poor people. This constitute almost one fourth of the population. Out of this 10,100.00 were form Male' only. However the ward offices estimate that eight thousand out of the seventy thousand living in Male' will register themselves as poor people this year. Is this figure really acceptable when we consider our living standards and the living standards of those around us? Why, we even have more mobile phones then that.
If it is impossible for us to believe that every fourth person you see in Maldives is a registered poor “fageeru” or every seventh person you see in Male' has registered himself as a poor person then there must be something wrong with the way we categorize the poor people. Of course being poor is not an absolute thing. A poor man in Sweden might be considered well off in Maldives . That is why it is all the more important that Maldives evolve a practical efficient plan to categorize the poor.

We give donations on the occasion of the Ramadan prayers and the Eid that follows with a very noble objective. That it should benefit the very poor and deserving. But if the Government has not evolve a proper organization to oversee that the deserving get this benefit, then soon, the common man will loose interest in this. It is upon the government to educate the mass and to discourage the misuse of this very holy pillar of Islam.