Adhaalath Party head gives government six day ultimatium to renege on GMR airport deal

The government has been given less than a week to “reclaim” Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) from infrastructure group GMR under order of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, a member of the coalition backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdullah gave the deadline yesterday, during a rally calling by November 15 for an annulment of the contract signed between the former government and GMR to manage and develop a new terminal at INIA.

Imran also told those gathered to stand ready for “activities on sea” planned for the November 12. The gathering, held yesterday at the artificial beach area of Male’, is expected to reconvene this evening.

Sheikh Imran was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press, while fellow party member and State Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said he did not wish to comment on the “GMR issue”, asking that he only be contacted over religious matters.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, whose government approved the deal back in 2010, this month slammed statements over the “reclaiming” the airport from GMR.  Nasheed claimed such comments were “highly irresponsible”, stating that such words from the government could cause irreparable damage to the country.

Several Indian companies operating in the Maldives including GMR and TATA have also this month expressed concerns over political interference that they claimed is derailing their substantial investments in the country.

Following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, members of President Waheed’s unity government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has swung between issuing reassurances within diplomatic circles that Indian investments in the country would be protected, while locally stepping up nationalisation rhetoric.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad and Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were also not returning calls on whether the government had been officially notified of the deadline or how it will proceed on the matter at time of press.

The present government has continued to press to “re-nationalise”the airport, with the country’s Deputy Tourism Minister confirming to Indian media in September that the administration would not “rule out the possibility of cancelling the award [to GMR]”.

Despite these pledges, government coalition partners including the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and Jumhoree Party (JP) have both called for further investigation into alleged wrongdoing over the deal and to follow legal guidelines.

Senior representatives of both parties have told Minivan News that any potential action taken against GMR to be taken through the courts and after negotiations with the infrastructure group.  Any actions should then be conducted in a manner not detrimental to securing future foreign investment opportunities, both parties have concluded.

Under the terms of the agreement – an estimated US$511 million deal that represents the largest ever case of foreign investment in the Maldives – GMR agreed to a 25 year concession agreement to develop and manage the site, as well as to overhaul the existing terminal by the end of this year.

The document was overseen by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group and the largest global institution focused on private sector projects in developing countries.

The Maldives government has accused the IFC of negligence during the bidding process for INIA – allegations there were rejected by the organisation.  Both the government and GMR are presently involved in an arbitration case in Singapore over the airport development that is anticipated to conclude by year end.

However, the Adhaalath Party, as part of a civil society coalition that was formed last year, has stepped up efforts of late to oppose upholding the airport deal.

The efforts have included an ongoing number of gatherings in the capital Male’, promotional material including a “Go Home GMR” balloon, the publication of a book on the deal and a petition sent to the government.

Local media reported this week that some 10,000 people had so far signed the petition.

Sheikh Imran has previously predicted there would be “some unrest and damage” should the GMR deal be annulled, but nontheless urged people to come out and support the calls for nationalisation.  The GMR deal is actually a 25 year lease arrangement and the airport still belongs to the government.

Imran said the Maldivian population would be able to endure economic hardship should the deal be annulled, before threatening “a completely different activity” should the government fail to resolve the issue to the coalition’s satisfaction.

Book launch

Also against the GMR deal is the government-aligned DQP, whose leader Dr Hassan Saeed serves as special advisor to president Waheed, as well as being his party’s presidential candidate.

Late last month, Dr Saeed launched a book authored by himself that concluded the only option for “reclaiming the airport from GMR” is to invalidate or cancel the concession agreement with the Indian infrastructure giant.

The DQP has claimed the book would reveal a number of facts that the Maldivian people were unaware of before the signing of the agreement.

It follows the publication last year of another DQP publication that claimed that the government’s lease of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) to developer GMR posed a threat to local industry that will “enslave the nation and its economy”.

The Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI) has previously claimed that legal wrangling between the government and India-based developer GMR over the multi-million dollar airport development would not harm confidence in the country’s admittedly “challenging” investment climate.

This week alone, cabinet ministers announced efforts were being taken to try expanding the number of investment opportunities available in the Maldives in order to generate greater interest from foreign enterprises.

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22 thoughts on “Adhaalath Party head gives government six day ultimatium to renege on GMR airport deal”

  1. Crazy bunch of people this 23 Dec Ihthihaad are. I mean why not educate people by showing them number and figures and actually telling them what is so bad about GMR running the airport? The only way they know how to win over people is to use religion.
    Personally, I dont care who runs INIA.

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  2. Yes investors will still invest in Maldives provided that they have a good return.

    GMR itself was aware of the corrupt deal done between them and Anni and they took a risk thinking that Anni would be in power for next ten years.

    GMR have been bribing MP to change the legislation to legitimate the tax that they want to take.

    Taj group had invested in Maldives long time back, there have not been any issue with them and no one talks about them? They have also invested huge amount of money in this country and why they were able to do business here in this country without getting public upright ?

    This is because they are doing a legal business and their investment was not made with a corrupt people.

    Investors are more concern about the political environment in maldives. They were more concerned when Anni said that the country was sinking, they were more concerned when Anni said majority of Maldivian are hardcore Islamists and they were more concerned when Anni gave a cabinet portfolio to Adaalth.

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  3. what a show! You have a piece of land. But you don't have the expertise or the utilities to get the maximum out of land. so what do literate people do? they least the land to people who are experts in the domain and you get a huge surplus in profits than ever before. But ultimately, you own the land. So there is no problem of ownership. Then what are all these parties crying and hueing about? Is it because their pockets are not getting filled with corrupt money like before when they used to control the airport?? We need to use some common sense here.Say you want to give the airport to the chinese.. Their warships would be docking at our shores then. Srilanka is witness.

    You want to hand it over to UK? for Gods sake they themselves have given their worlds largest airport on lease to a foreign firm. who else?? We will be the laughing stock of the whole world and also be criticised if we do foolish things. Hope this all ends soon amicably.

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  4. I wonder if Sheik Imran realises how untenable his actions are. At issue is a legal contract. Now that disagreement has occurred it has been put to arbitration in Singapore. Even if this arbitration is unacceptable the matter could be put to the Maldivian courts to make a ruling as to the validity of the contract.

    Even if the accusation is corruption against the GMR, the way open is to take GMR to the courts and prove their guilt in a court of law. The fact that Sheik Imran is shunning the courts and playing the nationalisation card seems to point to political motivation.

    A sheik of Islam shunning the courts to establish JUSTICE is very shortsighted and bad enough. Giving public deadlines to the government is intolerable and following xPresident Nasheed's footsteps.

    I doubt the good sheik and his fellow sheiks understand the full implications of what he is trying to do. He is about to open a veritable Pandora's box and the Genie he is about to let loose I'm afraid would make President Nasheed look like a boys scout. The one beneficiary to this suicidal course of action would be XPresident Nasheed and his program and dreams for Maldives.

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  5. A smart politian will wait for the completion of the current development before initiating any form of take over. The current government is so fickle minded leave aside their empty coffer. They shod either make up their mind to sent GMR home or let them run it. Simply voicing out without any action will bring more harm than good to the nation. I find the president's silence and incapability to take a call so annoying.

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  6. This is what happens when we let a bunch of extremists play politics. They think their word is a message from God and expects everyone to follow it. A pity such religious people just issues a statement condemning the rape and child abuse of our little children, and yet invests so much of their time on foreign investment debates.

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  7. The Fishermen are never comfortable with foreigners but still the only way they can sustain their life is through very means they are so afraid. The moronic mullahs and their supporters lack every civilized norms and act like small kids. What a gloomy state this fishermen state has, the moron lack the very ethic to honor own agreements.

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  8. Imran or no Imran, this deal is full of corruption at text book level.

    the problem is leveling corruption allegation at Anni is not easy for west because he is there man here. So they will stick with the devil they know.

    As for ppm they have never cared about public welfare or money from day zero. they have their zaeem to think about and nothing else. Public be damned. they are in this for politics.

    Which leaves adhaalath which is doing the patriotic thing alone and doing as much as it can. But there is a problem for them also. Because in islam the things that matter are pertaining to ummah or the islamic nation. Nationalism or patriotism is against islam in the sense its just another form of tribalism which islam came to destroy.

    so they all have a problem.
    Adhaalath has a theological problem.
    PPM will make the best out of a wrong situation.
    MDP will hope that all these diversions will leave focus on where they are associated with corruption.
    Then ofcourse GMR has the bigger worry of loosing their ill gotten airport.

    its like catch 22 situation for them all.

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  9. Why is shaheem saying this is not an islamic matter. Adhaalath part is saying GMR is threat to Islam in Maldives.

    If its about corruption, then just say corruption. Don't bring other excuses like national security and all that.

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  10. When the Mullahs get their knickers twisted in politics, then you know the country is in real trouble.

    Here we have a wannabe leader of people, claiming to be a learned man of Islam, stepping outside the bounds of all that he is supposed to uphold. It's not only dangerous because of his ultimatums, but because of what that signifies.

    I'm sure there are certain followers of his group, who'd take this call as a call to "Jihad" against foreigners and GMR in particular. He talked about "action at sea", if his ultimatum was not met by the regime. I take that as a direct threat to the security of the airport!

    The airport is vulnerable to a Jihadist attack from the sea, as it's runway is merely a strip on the ocean surface. Lunatics armed with RPGs are not fiction anymore, given the stakes that are being raised by the Mullahs. After all, the good Sheikhs have promised them a heaven with rivers of wine and an unlimited supply of virgins.

    It's not just GMR that has to be worried, but a whole lot of other people too!

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  11. GMR was disqualified in the first ground for some reason and wonder how they got qualified and won the bid then in the first place.

    Singapore had shown the interest to build the airport, Swissport had put the bit and wonder why these companies were not able to win it ? It is clear that these two companies refused to pay " a cut" to Anni and his associates and that is why they were not able to win the bid.

    Most of the people who oppose to give airport to GMR is opposing due to nature of the corrupt deal and it is not because of GMR.

    We need to question whether the GMR deal was the best offer we had on the table at that time? It is very clear that it was not the best deal and the best deal had come from French and Swiss port and Singapore ?

    But for Anni it was the best deal since they were only the people who had offered them huge cut ?

    GMR is giving 1% of the profit to the state and 99% of the profit is for them. GMR is not investing thier money and they were investing the money from Airport company and loan is taken on sovereign guarantee by the state. Menaing to say that if GMR fail to pay the loan , we the Maldivian will be liable to pay the loan and GMR will take the money run away without paying the loan too.

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  12. what a bunch of morons! The whole lot of them. Tata is now getting worried because it has invested lots in the housing sector. It is fun seeing ' Dog and the bone' situation.

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  13. The most retarded part of this story is the amount of press minivan gives to these loons, no one gives a crap about them,
    Even me or anyone else can issue ultimatums, with no power behind it..

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  14. What crap these guys are talking, this airport can generate maximum 30 million US$ annually. And it is absurd to contemplate on gossip and make huge issue out of this. GMR was the only crazy company who signed the contract who believed they can play games like Indian style to run airport and slowly do some repairs and renovation with revenues generated. They are now completely in a mess by taking this airport and this is the weakness of GMR whereas all the other bidders from Singapore or Swiss were not crazy to enter in to this mess by false promises.

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  15. No individual nor organization can give a government a time frame to fullfill whatever issues that they deem right to them.

    The presidents office spokesman MUST resign as a gesture of apology to the Hon. President. An act that is not sanctioned or supported by the office is not permissible in any circumstance.

    The state ministers or public government representatives who were involved on this idiotic gathering MUST be terminated from their posts effectively.

    A bunch of religious fanatics cannot impose their Afghan ideologies on a country that is modern, democratic and liberal. This a threat to society that must be halted with any means available, and we ask the president to get out of the cocoon and speak up.

    The most shameful gathering ever held in Maldives. We refuse to use religion as a weapon and media as a channel to destroy the little that we still have before the collapse of the entire nation.

    If it were a political rally, that's a different case, but attacking our only 'provider', our neighbor who saved us from poverty is unacceptable. If GMR goes, so would SBI, TAJ, TATA, doctors, teachers, nurses, laborers......and we would be left with what? Bangladeshis who actually have indirectly taken over the economy and we have become dependents!

    Shame on you Adhalath, shame on you government employees who made a fool of yourselves that night. The time is coming and when the government change hands next year...there will be no where to run be caged in many of the uninhabited islands or leave to Pakistan and Afghanistan for GOOD!

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  16. Mody, you continually write about corruption and GMR paying a cut to MDP yet again, you provide no facts, no evidence.

    The bid process was overseen by a respected international body with experience in these matters. The French and the Swiss are not complaining yet YOU say there's corruption.

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  17. good point Hashim. the people talking about nationalisation and Jihad were those who refuse to accept history. they are stubborn, and so crazy for power to understand the econimic, social and international implications of their stupidity. If their legs get fractured or they suffer a disease, they will still run to Trivandrum for treatment. Imagine what treatment these illiterates will get from there. Pathetic! They would still treat them despite these people's stubborn extremist baseless goof and rhetoric.

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  18. Financially Male airport deal is hardly lucrative for any company - it is an insignificant airport on international scale (around 2 million passengers handled annually). GMR bid for this airport to increase international exposure in their resume and this airport was bid together with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad. But since Malaysia happens to be another Islamic country the focus is targeting only the Indian name. If these parties are so worried about saving their country from "slavery", they better stop selling their international bonds to Indian banks (who happen to be the only buyers, no other financial institute wants to put in their money here). But I am certain these guys have absolutely no idea how a country and its finances are run. What is the alternative they have plan once GMR/MAHB is kicked out? I hope they are not planning to nationalise it with money borrowed from India. That would be most ironic.

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