Cabinet opts to expand foreign investment oppurtunities

Cabinet ministers have opted to try expanding the number of investment opportunities available in the Maldives in order to generate interest from foreign enterprises.

Following discussions on a paper presented to the cabinet by the Ministry of Economic Development, a decision was taken yesterday to create a “scheme of action” outlining how to attract and handle foreign investments being made in the Maldives, according to the President’s Office website.

The cabinet was also said to have agreed on the need for a specific investor focus around the provision of basic needs, updating public services and developing the country’s economic landscape.

As a result of the investment plan, the islands of aakan’doodhoo and Firun’baidhoo in Shaviyani Atoll and Maakuredhdhoo in Noonu Atoll are expected to be leased out for long-term agricultural projects.

The cabinet’s decision comes as Indian media earlier this month raised concerns that enterprises including TATA and infrastructure group GMR – both presently operating in the Maldives – were struggling to overcome political interference they claim is derailing their substantial investments in the country.

GMR, contracted to develop and manage a new terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in Male’ in the largest foreign investment project ever seen in the country, is facing opposition from some government-aligned parties over allegations about the validity of its contract.

GMR has denied the allegations, adding that all relevant documentation was overseen at the time by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Last month, Jumhoree Party (JP) Deputy Leader Abdulla Jabir criticised attempts to “politicise” the dispute between the government and India-based GMR over an agreement to develop INIA – fearing a negative impact on foreign investment.

However, the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI) has stated 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 “challenging” investment climate.