There has been an increase in the registered number of poor people in the Maldives, as the Islamic ministry Sunday began distributing zakat at a rate of MVR900 (US$59) per person.
Zakat is an obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able-bodied Muslims in the Maldives.
This year’s zakat will be distributed to 16,229 registered poor. Among these, 3,138 are from the greater Malé region, and 13,091 are from the rest of the country.
The Islamic ministry compiled a list of the poor through a registration process. Last year’s number of registered poor was 12,335, with 2,399 from the greater Malé region.
“We’ve been working on a list of the poor since last Ramadan. We opened up for registration, and made the forms available in Malé and the islands. When people registered as poor people, we made a list and opened it up for complaints. After receiving and assessing complaints, we made a final list of the poor. We’re using that to distribute zakat,” Mohamed Ahusan, a ministry spokesman told the Maldives Independent.
The ministry will be distributing zakat in the Malé region until October 17. Ministry officials will also be going to Addu, Fuvahmulah, and Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo.
“The (island) councils will be given the money for zakat by the end of this week. The councils can then distribute the zakat on their own terms.” Ahusan added.
A report from the Auditor General’s office released in June showed that millions from the zakat scheme were unaccounted for.
“We note that we cannot confirm that total of MVR13,480,100 taken from the audit sample was delivered to the intended recipients, as the details of distribution, the amount of money that was left-over from distribution by the island councils, and the procedure through which excess money from the islands was given back to the Ministry has not been clarified to the Auditor General’s office despite repeated requests through writing,” the report said.
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