The New Statutory Civil Service in the Maldives: Towards a Decentralized Human Resource Management Model?

  • Mohamed Faizal
  • Rob Laking


The Civil Service Act of 2007 was a significant enactment of reform in the island nation of the Maldives. It was part of the constitutional changes that the nation embarked on starting in 2003, which resulted in a new constitution leading to the country’s first multiparty elections for president and parliament. The initial focus of civil service reform in the Maldives was to change from a personalistic, patronage-driven system of public employment to a meritocratic employment system largely removed from the direct control of the elected government. Reforming the traditional centralized governance modalities was not the focus at that stage. The adopted civil service model was thus a continuation of a tradition of centralized governance through a statutory commission mandated with the overall human resource management of the civil service.

This chapter begins with a description of the centralized administration and an overview of the civil service before the recent reforms. This is followed by an assessment of six main features of the Maldivian civil service system: the scope of the civil service, its management, codes of conduct, a meritocratic recruitment system, pensions and retirement, political rights and neutrality. Lastly, the chapter assesses the recent delegation reforms in the civil service and examines whether the civil service system is shifting towards a decentralized human resource model.

The chapter argues that due to the infancy of the statutory civil service and the past centralized practices, the effectiveness and adaptability to the Maldivian context of a decentralized model is constantly questioned by the policymakers. Furthermore, given that the Maldives is an emerging democracy, contestation between politics and administration appears to continue. Although the establishment of a statutory civil service has led to a more widespread application of merit principles in appointment, any delegated or decentralized human resource model is at risk to political intervention. The chapter concludes by arguing that without strong backing from policymakers and the necessary legal framework, there is a significant risk that the Maldivian civil service will revert back to a centralized human resource model and that the personalistic and patronage-based features will re-emerge.

In June 2017, beyond the time frame for this case study, there has in fact been some reversal of the delegation reforms of 2015.


Civil service Decentralization Maldives 


  1. Alam, M., & Jasimuddin, M. (Eds.). (2006). The Public Service of the Republic of Maldives—A Profile. Current Good Practices and New Developments in Public Service Management. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.Google Scholar
  2. Argyriades, D. (1996). Neutrality and Professionalism in the Public Service. In H. K. Asmeromand & E. P. Reis (Eds.), Democratization and Bureaucratic Neutrality (pp. 45–77). London: Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asim, M. (2001). Performance Appraisal in the Maldives Public Service: Challenges and Issues. Public Administration and Development, 21(4), 289–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bossaert, D., & Demmke, C. (2003). Civil Service in the Accession States. New Trends and the Impact of the Integration Process. Maastricht, The Netherlands: European Institute of Public Administration.Google Scholar
  5. Bossaert, D., Demmke, C., Nomden, K., & Polet, R. (2001). Civil Services in the Europe of Fifteen: Trends and New Developments. Maastricht, The Netherlands: European Institute of Public Administration.Google Scholar
  6. Cardona, F. (2001). Building a Civil Service System. Public Management Forum, VII(1), 3–6.Google Scholar
  7. Civil Service Commission. (2014). Maldives Civil Service Regulation. Retrieved from
  8. Civil Service Commission. (2015a, August 12). Circular no. 2015/24. Retrieved from
  9. Civil Service Commission. (2015b). Maldives Civil Service Strategic Plan 2016–2020. Retrieved from
  10. Constitution of the Republic of Maldives. (2008). Retrieved from
  11. Demmke, C. (2005). Are Civil Servants Different Because They Are Civil Servants? Who Are the Civil Servants—And How? Maastricht, The Netherlands: European Institute of Public Administration.Google Scholar
  12. Dimitrova, A. L. (2005). Europeanization and Civil Service Reform in Central and Eastern Europe. In F. Schimmelfennig & U. Sedelmeier (Eds.), The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 71–90). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Euroconsult Mott MacDonald. (2008). Best Practices in Civil Service Reform. Reference and Resource Manual Public Sector Reform, No. 1. Retrieved from
  14. Faizal, M. (2013). Civil Service in an Emerging Democracy: The Case of the Maldives. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  15. Faizal, M., & Laking, R. (2013). An Independent Institution of Governance? A New Statutory Civil Service in the Maldives. In I. Jamil, S. Askvik, & T. N. Dhakal (Eds.), In Search of Better Governance in South Asia and Beyond (pp. 127–143). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fournier, J. (1998). Administrative Reform in the Commission Opinions Concerning the Accession of the Central and Eastern European Countries to the European Union. Preparing Public Administrations for the European Administrative Space (SIGMA Paper No. 23, pp. 111–118). Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  17. Gerth, H. H., & Mills, C. W. (Eds.). (1948). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  18. Hood, C., & Lodge, M. (2006). The Politics of Public Service Bargains: Reward, Competency, Loyalty—And Blame. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kernaghan, K. (1986). Political Rights and Political Neutrality: Finding the Balance Point. Canadian Public Administration, 29(4), 639–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kernaghan, K., & Langford, J. W. (1990). The Responsible Public Servant. Halifax: The Institute for Research on Public Policy.Google Scholar
  21. Laking, R. (2007). International Civil Service Reform: Lessons for the Punjab? Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  22. Manning, N. (2001). The Legacy of the New Public Management in Developing Countries. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 67(2), 297–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2009). Sustainability of Civil Service Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe Five Years After EU Accession (SIGMA Papers No. 44). Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  24. Mohamed, I. (2005). Globalization, Governance and Development: The Case of the Maldives. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.Google Scholar
  25. Mosher, F. C. (1982). Democracy and the Public Service. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Neshkova, M. I., & Kostadinova, T. (2012). The Effectiveness of Administrative Reform in New Democracies. Public Administration Review, 72(3), 324–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nunberg, B. (1992). Managing the Civil Service: What LDCs Can Learn from Developed Country Reforms (World Bank Working Paper No. 945). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  28. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (1997). Civil Service Legislation: Checklist on Secondary Legislation (and Other Regulatory Instruments) (SIGMA Paper No. 14). Paris: OECD/SIGMA.Google Scholar
  29. Page, E. (1992). Bureaucratic Authority and Political Power: A Comparative Analysis (2nd ed.). New York: Harvester.Google Scholar
  30. Peters, B. G. (2010). The Politics of Bureaucracy: An Introduction to Comparative Public Administration (6th ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. President’s Office. (2006). Roadmap for the Reform Agenda. Ushering in a Modern Democracy. Maldives.Google Scholar
  32. Schick, A. (1998). Why Most Developing Countries Should Not Try New Zealand Reforms. The World Bank Research Observer, 13(1), 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Suleiman, E. (2003). Dismantling Democratic States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Vaughn, R. G. (1976). Principles of Civil Service Law. New York: Matthew Bender.Google Scholar
  35. Zaki, I. H., & Parakh, R. M. (2008). Small States Security Dilemma: A Maldivian Perception. New Delhi: Lancers’ Book.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed Faizal
    • 1
  • Rob Laking
    • 2
  1. 1.National Pay CommissionMaléMaldives
  2. 2.School of GovernmentVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations