The Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) “will not back down” or hesitate to take legal measures against resorts with outstanding rents and fines.
Commissioner General of Taxation Yazeed Mohamed told newspaper Haveeru today that “even if the Tourism Ministry does not take measures, MIRA will fulfill its legal responsibilities.”
MIRA is currently pursuing cases at the Civil Court against a number of tourist facilities to recover unpaid rents.
The Tourism Ministry last week warned 10 resorts with outstanding rents and fines to settle at least 25 percent of debts to the state by Wednesday this week, or face revoking or withholding of operating licenses.
Following deliberations by the cabinet, the ministry gave a 90-day notice as “a last warning” on July 12 for the tourist facilities to pay the overdue amounts in full.
However according to a press statement issued by the ministry yesterday, the government has decided not to enforce the threat of revoking licenses after the resorts appealed for leniency, citing global economic turmoil and difficulties in paying large sums in a short period.
According to the press statement, the decision was made after the tourist businesses provided a schedule for making the payments in installments over a course of time. Neither the proposed deadline nor the length of the extension was specified in the statement.
Commissioner General Yazeed meanwhile revealed that only three out of the 10 resorts had paid 25 percent of the outstanding rent and fines as of yesterday. The three resorts that complied after the Tourism Ministry’s “last warning” were Park Hyatt, Six Senses Laamu and Huvadhumafushi.
Haveeru reports that resorts with unpaid rent and fines include those owned by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza and Economic Advisor to the President Ali Shiyam. Other resorts on the list include Zitali Resort and Spa, owned by Hamza’s brother Moosa Shiyam; Giraavaru Tourist Resort, owned by Abdul Rauf, M. Sun Rose; and resorts owned by Yacht Tours, whose chairman and former MP Abdulla Jabir is a candidate for the post of MDP chairperson.