President sets US$150 million minimum on SEZ investment

President Abdulla Yameen has announced a minimum investment of US$150 million for any projects in the recently introduced special economic zones (SEZ).

Yameen announced the measure by presidential decree, publishing it in the government gazette today.

The Specials Economic Zones Act – the flagship policy of Yameen’s administration – was passed in August, being hailed by the president as a way to incentivise multi-million dollar investment in the country.

“We have now created the legal environment required to attract major investments. This creates such a framework,” he said following the passage of the act.

Tourism Minister and chair of the SEZ board of investment has suggested that just one ‘mega project’ attracted under the new scheme could transform the country’s economy.

Under the SEZ Act, each zone would be granted to a developer – following evaluation of a proposal – to take overall responsibility for management and operation. Once a permit is granted, finding and choosing investors is left to the developer.

Opposition MPs have contended the SEZ law would pave the way for money laundering and other criminal enterprises, undermine the decentralization system, and authorize a board formed by the president to “openly sell off the country” without parliamentary oversight.