Nasheed government sought to make Maldives an “economic slave”: Economic development minister

Economic Development Minister Ahmed Mohamed yesterday (September 16) accused former President Mohamed Nasheed of working to make the Maldives “an economic slave” to an unspecified foreign company.

Ahmed, a senior member of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), which this week announced it would be backing Nasheed’s in a second round of voting for this year’s presidential election, was quoted in local media as being highly critical of the former head of state.

Although Economic Development Minister Ahmed did not reportedly name the foreign company accused of trying to enslave the nation.  However, the present government last year controversially scrapped a US$511 million contract signed under by Nasheed’s administration with India-based infrastructure group GMR to develop and manage an entirely new airport terminal.

The Maldives is presently facing a US$1.4 billion compensation claim from GMR for its decision to terminate the contract over allegations that the International Finance Corporation (IFC)-approved tender was open to corruption. The allegations were ultimately rejected by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

However, Ahmed was reported in Sun Online as slamming Nasheed for alleged efforts to make the Maldives what he called an “economic slave” to a foreign business by taking loans with high interest rates and short repayment periods. The comments were made during a rally held by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its election coalition partner the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

Despite the claims, the government earlier this month said it hoped to secure longer-term financing to plug a shortfall in annual revenue that has seen the number of 28-day Treasury Bills (T-bills) sold by the state almost double in July 2013, compared to the same period last year.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told Minivan News at the time that the state’s increased reliance on short-term T-bills between July 2012 and July 2013 reflected the current difficulties faced by the government in trying to raise budgeted revenue during the period. He cited minimal interest from the private sector in providing finance as adding to these difficulties.

Jihad added that the current administration was also reliant on 28 day T-bills, which were being sold as a means to “roll over” debt one month at a time.

“We are trying to have banks get longer-term finance such as T-bills at present,” he said.

Economic Development Minister Ahmed also claimed yesterday the number of doctors had fallen by the time of his controversial resignation last year following a mutiny by sections of the police and military, while also criticising the former president’s record towards education.

“By the time Nasheed resigned, the value of Maldivian Rufiyaa had been decreased by 32 percent, which means that a commodity which earlier cost MVR 100 (US$6.5), cost MVR 132 (US$8.5) by the time he resigned,” he was quoted as saying.

According to Sun Online, the economic development minister also said that the aim of unspecified peoples was to “remove” Nasheed from office.

Ahmed Mohamed was not responding to calls from Minivan News or requests to clarify his comments at time of press.

The comments were made as PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed last week declared that former President Nasheed “will not be allowed to assume power”, even should he emerge as the clear winner in the run-off.

Clarifying his remarks to Minivan News at the time, Dr Jameel stated that his comments during the rally reflected the “criminal charge filed against Nasheed” concerning his role in the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who stands accused of corruption and halting investigations into his conduct through the courts.