Hudhufushi lease renewed

The Tourism Ministry has renewed the lease for Hudhufushi in Lhaviyani Atoll despite the resort island’s owner owing more than US$85 million in unpaid rent.

According to a 2009 audit report, Hudhufushi’s leasee Abdul Rauf owed US$57.7 million in unpaid rent to the government going back to 2002, the majority of the amount accumulated fines from years of non-payment.

The lease rent owned by the Hudhufushi resort is one of the government’s largest debtors in the tourism sector, and was noted in both the tourism ministry and trade ministry’s audit reports for 2007.

Under the original 35 year lease agreement signed between Rauf and the government in 2000, the resort was to open on June 30, 2002.

Former Auditor General Ibrahim Naseem, dismissed by parliament last year days after ordering past and present government ministers to submit to an audit of their assets, had recommended repossessing the island and establishing a mechanism to take legal action against tax evasion.

His audit suggested that at least Rf117 million (US$910,000) of the amount was recoverable.

Local media this week reported that the debt had climbed to US$85 million, and that the government had renewed the lease under a new agreement stating that the amount would be paid back starting from the 11th year of the agreement.

In addition, the agreement requires two payments of US$750,000 before June 1 and December 1 of this year, local newspaper Haveeru reported, or it will be terminated.

Cofounder of local environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, has meanwhile claimed that the island forms a natural bay that is home to rays and baby sharks, and was “a very important ecological site.”

“The development will cause a lot of disturbance – there was a lot of controversy even at the beginning on the process,” he said. “There were no studies before the island was awarded and it has not been subject to an environmental impact assessment.”

Rilwan suggested that in such instances the government should have provision to exchange an island for another, to allow the preservation of ecological sites such as Hudhufushi.

“There are only three islands in the Maldives that are listed as protected, at least on paper,” he said. “Hudhufushi has a mangrove area, which is a carbon sink – these are mentioned in the government’s carbon report. Half the mangroves in the Maldives have been reclaimed in the last 30-40 years.”

“Ecotourism sites such as these are rare in the Maldives and can generate an income as they make for wonderful photographs,” he said.

Minivan News contacted the tourism ministry for comment and was referred to Deputy Minister Ismail Yasir, but he was not responding at time of press.

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29 thoughts on “Hudhufushi lease renewed”

  1. The issue of Hudhufushi is proverbial in its association of corruption, self-interest, greed, and bad politics. By giving-in to the same story of corruption the current govt. is effectively bringing in a skeleton to its closet which will haunt them for years to come...

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  2. In this country people protest on streets for each and everything from changing locations of schools. However though we have few tree huggers there are no greenies who can protest against the decision to renew this agreement. At least on environmental grounds we shall protest to keep this island as it is. In this country there are no strategic environmental assessments done and so anyone can grab any place for anything. This government has also leased an island with such a bay called Dhigulaabadhoo in GA atoll. It is high time that we form a green party and start protesting against these environmental crimes. This country is not a property we inherited from our ancestors but we are the custodians of it. Sadly the greedy business men have hogged up the parliament making it their rubber stamp for anything they desire.

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  3. Well done.One of the most corrupt deals of the current government.This is a very bad precedence.Now no one will ever pay any dues to the government.Why would they pay? This is day light robbery of the poor citizens.The Tourism Minister and the Attorney General should be held accountable and brought to the parliament for questioning.How could you allow such a huge crime to be buried under the carpets so easily.In Maldives this is equivalent to the 2 G scam in India.The then Telecoms Minister had to resign and go straight to jail.This is a bit too much.We voted for this government in complete faith that they would not continue to rob the people and follow the corrupt system that prevailed in this country for so long.Very sad.We will fall far behind the most corrupt country in the world.I urge ACC to look into this matter urgently.I just can't reason out how just one minister or two can waive or delay for over a decade almost 100 million dollars owed to the people? I have no words.Mr.President- you claim to be the champion of human rights for mankind? Where are our rights when your ministers just let someone get away with eighty million dollars just like that? Please give me an answer.

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  4. Renewing the lease agreement of Hudhufushi is in simplest term, crazy. Because having such a high debt of $85m accumulated, a financier only if he is crazy will be interested in development of this resort island. I think government official who signed to renew this lease agreement, as usual in Maldives came to office and simply sign the papers on his table and went for coffee or be on the phone or Facebook. This is how the whole government of Maldives works. Audit report, research or whatever, in Maldives simply goes into files forever. No one cares and in fact no one knows. Politicians are there only to appear on TV and to talk talk talk for their own publicity. One simple example is that the whole Maldives today is talking gand violence, stabbings, killings and robbery on the street. if I'm not wrong minivan news once published a report on a study conducted by a police expert from the UK, I think his name is George Robertson. He found out that the Maldives Police Service is overstaffed. This report would still be there in the files at Head Quarters of Maldives Police Service. Recently the Asst Commisioner of Police said that they didnt have enough staff to cope with the growing number of crime. Maldives Police Service don't want to work. They want colorful uniforms, spectacular celebrations and publicity. We are fed up hearing news news news. Goverment wsebsite also change every other year just to make news headlines. What a real shame on all of us..

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  5. This is absolutely ridiculous.Why on earth would the Tourism Minister sign to extend the payment of rentals of a resort totaling over 1 billion Rufiyaa.This is approximately almost one fifth of the real earnings of this country.Not only the murderers can get away in this country but this is a pure example of how a minister has encouraged corporate crime to happen in front of all of with the complete approval of a President who claimed that he would punish anyone if he even think the person is corrupt.Mr.President-where is the rule of law? Does it apply only to poor people like us? If we are unable to pay our monthly flat rents to municipality you come to evict us from the property. If we are unable to pay the electricity bill within ten days you force my six children to stay put in the dark while I stay awake worrying over them and their future.How could you allow such a fraudster to get away with it.He takes on a government property and doesnt pay the dues-you tell him my friend don't worry- you pay it after twelve years. Did you for a single second realize the opportunity cost to the poor men like us- to this beloved nation.People who commit crimes like this should be sent behind bars.Not reward him. You have started a very dangerous game in partnership with your Minister of Tourism and your Attorney General.These actions of yours would make this nation a banana republic no sooner!

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  6. Day light robbery here, but no, no, no that's not an issue. None what so ever.

    Day light murder...er...no. Not an issue.

    But possession of 1 gram marijuana, by a commoner, YES. yes a very big issue. 10 years in Jail, No parole!

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  7. Its a pity that such ecologically important sites are sold for tourism (in this case, more like gifted). We do not even have enough knowledge about the potential damage it could do to Maldivian fisheries in general if the breeding site is destroyed. What a sad story. Yet another island important in the livelihoods of ordinary Maldivians being compromised for tourism. Only if we had enough dollars in our economy to make up for all these islands lost to us.

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  8. the recoverable amount suggested is said to be in the article as MRF117 million.how is it possible to be equivalent to only USD 910 thousand.

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  9. NGOs like Bluepeace should be protesting on the streets when such atrocities are committed rather than sit in their armchairs and give interviews to Minivan. If Rilwan is correct and if there was no EIA conducted at the beginning of this project, then this is a violation of the environmental laws of the maldives. The Environmental Protection Agency should fine Ministry of Tourism, this issue should be contested at court and the contract should be cancelled. Bluepeace along with other organisations and individuals who cares should take this matter to court. There is no need to make little noises and whisper when one of the richest biodiversity sites in the Maldives is endangered.

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  10. An island that belongs to the Nature....WWF wanted it protected. National Geographic called on the last Government not to give the Island to Tourism. One of the 11 areas of Maldives that must be preserved, they said...One of the most beautiful natural environments where rays breed in the brackish V shaped inner lagoon , a pond where migrating birds from Africa rests seasonally, mangrove with shells and cones etc...Gasim wanted to fill and make a golf course in his bid in the first round...And yet in spite of the debt, the island is released. Where does Anni stand with his ambitious plans? It is like Gayyoom who talked about environment protection to get world attentions, and exploits what he can for his own ends

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  11. To the new Finance Minister- for the sake of winning your next elections and to get your bills passed in the Majlis please instruct Bank of Maldives to allow Thasmeen to repay the over USD 100 million or more he and his family owes to the bank to be paid after 30 years.Afterwards under the PPP program you could sell the Bank of Maldives to an Indian corporation.That way you get the blessings of the Indian government and you get opposition become your poodle.President Nasheed can then be in power for the next thirty years.By giving the leniency to Thasmeen and Rauf MDP can buy the loyalty of DRP.Just don't worry about the country.Make it a banana republic.Encash the best out of it while you are able to hang onto power.The new Minister of Tourism has shown us a really good example.May Allah Almighty pour His wrath on such evil doers!

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  12. If Anni can double up to complete more housing projects his re election is guaranteed. That his his barometer to get re elected. More housing.

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  13. we are all ok with this now are we? a single resort owner owing 85 million to government given a further extension after decades of default?

    whats wrong with everyone! shouldnt the government terminate the contract and go to courts once again and strip rauf of all his assets to recover even 1% of this due.

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  14. who on earth does the tourism minister thinks she is to play with our money like this? we will watch all that is done in the coming days with an eagle eye!

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  15. these decisions that generate debate in the public and media should be further explained by the tourism ministry.

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  16. Wonder what must have been the commission paid? We need an anti corruption bill soon so that we can jail all corrupt ministers without a problem.No one is above the law.

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  17. As Double standard has said the public is at the receiving end of the same shit from different holes.

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  18. this isnt the change i voted for...corrupt people are still getting rich...just different people. i cant even begin to imagine the evil darkness in the hearts of these politicians...

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  19. A public enquiry is the only solution.This is no small crime and this will have a domino type effect on the running of the government.Everyone not paying the government their dues can claim not to pay and request a ten year grace period from now on.I call upon the President to either send this to the Presidential Commission for an enquiry or to establish a special purpose commission of enquiry to look into why minister could allow this happen where you deny the public USD85 million for a fifteen year period.This government is not only corrupt the ministers I'm
    charge are just insane.

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  20. ibrahim hussen zaki facilitated and gained after giving all the resorts to Sun Land Pvt Ltd. Dhathu Didi owns islands under different names when he was the fisheries dentist. Whats new?

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  21. I'll say DON'T VOTE in the next Presidential election. It's not worth it.

    We need to eradicate all the politician s who are in the front line. Starting with Maumoon, anni, Buruma, Munavvar, Hassan Saeed ibrahim Hussein Zaki, Alhan = Mavota Shareef, Dhathu Didi, Hoarafushi Musthafa, and all the MPs

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  22. zulfa yellow greedy fellow

    there seems to be some kind of mafia running this government. they are securing the future of their kids, which is not a problem. problem is they are stepping on and crushing the future of our kids in the process... 🙁

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  23. I don't think this guy can make Hudhufushi dream possible. No one will be interested in taking such a huge debt. Any why Rauf doesn't know business so he has to return the island to government. Some one can develop the island while preserving the ecosystem. I rather advice to give to Mr.Soneva. Government need to explain clearly why they renew the agreement.

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  24. This is a very serious crime that the previous and the current governments have committed. There is no justification for this. The current economic crisis is caused by the people who were so keen to get an island to develop a resort but were not able to get any finance. It is a shame that the Government is running after a shadow and claiming money while these few people have been not paying any rent nor developing these islands which has wider economic implications for the whole country.

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