Joint venture company registered to develop Fushidhiggaru

A joint venture company (JVC) formed between the government and Prime Capital Maldives Pvt Ltd to develop a special tourist zone in the Kaafu Fushidhiggaru lagoon has been registered by the economic development ministry in accordance with a Civil Court judgment, reports newspaper Haveeru.

Registrar of Companies Mariyam Visam told the local daily today that the ministry registered the JVC within the seven-day period stipulated by the Civil Court verdict, which also ordered the government to sign a master lease agreement within five days of registration, “and [to] make all arrangements undertaken by the government in accordance with the agreement”.

In September 2013, Prime Capital sued the government after the ministry refused to register the JSC citing lack of authorisation from then-President Dr Mohamed Waheed as required by law.

The agreement was signed between Prime Capital and the Maldivian government on January 18, 2013 to lease the Fushidhiggaru lagoon for a 50-year period to a JVC with a 25 percent stake for the government.

According to local media, the government was to receive 30 percent of the profits from the tourism venture in the lagoon south of the capital Malé.

Prime Capital is reported to be a Singaporean company.

Following media reports last year suggesting that the JVC agreement was signed secretively, both Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb initially denied the existence of an agreement to lease the lagoon.

Less than two weeks before the first round of last year’s presidential election on September 7, Jumhooree Coalition campaigner Umar Naseer – now home minister – leaked documents to the media purported to be an agreement to sell the lagoon.

Naseer alleged at the time that the economic development ministry stopped the project as the cabinet had not officially approved it.

Moreover, the agreement was signed without seeking legal advice from the attorney general, he claimed.

Adeeb denied the existence of an “official” lease agreement and dismissed the allegations as a “political assassination” attempt in the days preceding the presidential election.