Immigration halts work permits to GMR, aviation authority to revoke aerodrome certificate

Additional reporting by Mariyath Mohamed.

The Department of Immigration has declared that it will cease renewing the visas of foreign employees working under GMR Male International Airport Limited (GMIAL), the Indian infrastructure giant’s side of the deal to manage and operate Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) signed with the former government.

“We have stopped issuing visas to GMR for the time being. This was decided since the cabinet has terminated the contract, and GMR has been given a seven day ultimatum to leave. If we went on processing visa requests, it would just be pointless work,” Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Immigration, Mohamed Khalid told Minivan News.

“We are just going along with the decisions made from the top, the President’s Office,” he said.

The Maldivian cabinet declared the agreement with GMR void on Tuesday evening, and gave the company a seven day ultimatum to leave the country.

“The government has given a seven day notice to GMR to leave the airport. The agreement states that GMR should be given a 30 day notice but the government believes that since the contract is void, it need not be followed,” said Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor at the time.

Deputy Controller of Immigration Hamid Fathuhullah told Minivan News that immigration had not yet made any decisions on how to proceed on dealing with the visas and permits obtained by GMR that were still active after the government’s seven day ultimatum.

However, Fathuhulla added that they would be making provisions in accordance with existing regulations to allow ample time for the employees to make arrangements to leave.

“Right now, we are not going to provide visas, quotas or work permits to any company associated with GMR. This is in line with the Immigration Act 1/2007 and International Law,” Fathuhulla stated.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad declined to comment on the matter.

“It is not part of our mandate to cancel visas, deport or arrest people. The President’s Office will do no such thing. The immigration department will decide this issue,” Imad said.

CEO of GMIAL, Andrew Harrison, said the company had received no communication or memo from the immigration department, as stated in several media reports, and had contacted the immigration to try and clarify the matter.

Of the company’s total 1760 staff, 140 are foreign employees on work permits, Harrison said.  He stressed 17 of there work permits were due to be renewed before the end of December.

“Our people are committed. They will stay and work until otherwise notified,” Harrison said.

He said it would be “premature” to discuss the implications of the Immigration Department’s announcement, given that GMR disputes the legality of the government’s termination of its contract, and that there was “still work to be done before statements are made”.

However, he said it was surprising that the notice was issued to the media before any discussion with the company.

“I don’t know why they are doing it this way,” Harrison said. “People are asking us about this, but we have no information apart from the conflicting reports in the media.”

“One report says the visas are being cancelled, another says they have not been cancelled, just the renewals,” said Harrison.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz stated Thursday that the foreign employees of GMR would be “given protection” until they could arrange to leave the country.

Fayaz said that the ministry had extended an invitation to the management of GMR for a meeting following the termination of the contract.

Accepting the invitation, Harrison and Managing Director P Sripathi had met with the ministry representatives, he said.

“At the meeting, we requested that in these seven days, they proceed in a manner which would not disrupt any of the services being provided at the airport. We also assured them that they would remain safe and secure during their time in the country,” Fayaz said.

“We also told them that should they require it, we can provide security services through the police force,” he added.

The government-owned Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has meanwhile issued a circular “opening opportunities for GMIAL staff who are keen to join the MACL team.”

In a statement, the company said it provided “assurance to employees that their present basic salary, allowances and other benefits, and training and development opportunities will be maintained under MACL management. MACL also guarantees that the employees currently sponsored by GMIAL will have the same opportunity to continue and complete their courses.”

CAA withdrawing aerodrome certificate

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has meanwhile sent GMIAL a letter informing the company its aerodrome certificate will be withdrawn at 11:59 pm on December 7.

“That is the regulatory authority that permits us to operate an airport,” explained Harrison, “We cannot operate an airport without the certificate.”

Harrison emphasised that the withdrawal of the certificate did not mean the end of the company’s effort to seek legal redress.


The government’s decision to declare GMR’s concession agreement void and evict the developer from the Maldives comes after a tough year for tourism, the sector indirectly responsible for up to 70 percent of the country’s economy. According to the 2013 budget presented to parliament on November 27 – the same day as cabinet announced GMR’s eviction – tourism growth in the Maldives has fallen from 15.8 percent in 2010 and 9.1 percent in 2011, to an expected 0.7 percent in 2012.

In a statement today, former President Mohamed Nasheed, under whose administration the GMR contract was signed, said the government’s “reckless decision to terminate GMR’s contract will scare off investors”, with “serious ramifications for the economy, at a time when we can ill-afford to see it falter.”

“Right across the board we are witnessing positive trends being dangerously reversed. Growth in tourism – the bedrock of our economy – has flat-lined; our GDP, which was 7 per cent last year, is projected to be just 3.4 per cent this year; and our deficit, which we had brought under control at the start of the year, is now ballooning at an alarming rate,” Nasheed said.

“If this continues, we risk setting back every aspect of our development. It is not those in government but the Maldivian people who stand to lose most from President Waheed’s economic mismanagement.”


39 thoughts on “Immigration halts work permits to GMR, aviation authority to revoke aerodrome certificate”

  1. Surely, there must be more civilized and diplomatically and commercially more reasonable ways to deal with the largest FDI in recent history of the Republic! If the Cabinet decides to terminate this contract with GMR and MACL issues notice of termination and GMR files case in Singapore for voiding the termination, effectively it adds up to a judicial determination of the validity of the termination of GMR contract. Is it not more reasonable for the government to wait till it hears from Singapore court before taking such radical and confrontation stances? We are after all talking about maintaining good neighbourly relations with the regional superpower. It is more sensible to wait for the judicial determination before physically frustrating the employees and executives of GMR. It is commercially and diplomatically wrong to harass employees and staff of this company at this stage when the matter is before the court.

  2. I doubt Waheed has anything else on this mind, other then the intense desire to keep sitting on that presidential chair warming it with his fat ass.

  3. @ ab initio coup on Thu, 29th Nov 2012 7:54 PM

    "Surely, there must be more civilized and diplomatically and commercially more reasonable ways to deal with the largest FDI in recent history of the Republic!"

    My foot! Just tell us exactly how much has GMR invested so far? Only then can we know if they can claim to be the biggest FDI!

    Maldivians are not fools. We know for a fact that GMR was handed over a running airport with all the facilities. GMR had PLANS to develop a new terminal which hasnt been done yet. Sure, they have done some renovations of the existing terminal but that is a relatively small investment. Hardly a sum to qualify for the so-called biggest FDI.

    There are several other bigger foreign investments in the Maldives. GMR is just an arrogant bunch of crooks.

    I am enjoying reading about their losses in the stock market 🙂

  4. Oh My God, the Maldivians have terminated the GMR contract......whatever shall we poor cow worshippers do now?
    This is going to make a big dent in our economy......which is only the tenth largest in the world and will surely impact on our exports which were only $299.4 billion last year.
    Oh Dear, wish we weren't so dependent on God's Chosen People......aka save our kaffir skins.
    Holy Krishna, whatever shall we do now?

  5. There is a saying in Dhivehi that may be translated that : THE KNIFE THAT YOU HAVE SHARPENED TO KILL YOUR ENEMY HAS POKED INTO YOUR OWN EYES...This is exactly what happened. India indirectly , Mr. Mulley , specifically supported the coup in Maldives, and India recognized the coup government of Waheed in no time. Eventually India is bitten by Dr.Waheed and the Coup Coalition. I am NOT surprised that India has no choice but accept the very words of ex-president Nasheed during his visit to India after the coup in Maldives that' Indian interests in Maldives will be harmed by the coup leader.'' Unfortunately India never listened. There is not much India can do becuase China is there to help the coup government. And India cannot put economic sanctios against the Maldives for 2 reasons. One that will put Indidia in a bad situation internationally becuase India is too big to fight the miniature Maldives. Second that will take Maldives closer to China. The best option for India is to politically help another change of government in Maldives as soon as possible and support Nasheed.

  6. The government was most concerned about maintaining fiscal solvency and now all their decisions reflect a total disregard of a likely source of funding: Indian government.

    Perhaps Waheed already has access to new funds. Wonder if he will be able to do this secretly through the new offshore bank that the government is setting up.

    If Indian 'repercussions' follow the same trends as Maldivian government policy then Maldivians living in India should be prepared for a hard time.

    Sheikh Imran and his puppet ought to start acting responsibly because all these decisions are bound to have negative financial effects that will directly or indirectly effect every citizen.

    Sheikh Imran has crossed all boundaries and ought to be dealt with as a matter of national security. The man seems to be a power unto himself dealing ultimatums to a President who seems to be completely cowed. If Waheed is being blackmailed ( perhaps threatening to go public on how Presidency was gained? ) it may be better to face the music now than later because time is likely to complicate & exacerbate the problem.

    The Indian government has been very patient with Waheed until now but at some point they will stop being decent. Wonder whether Sheikh Imran or Waheed will be there to bail us out?

    This whole exercise is very very counter productive.

  7. The Maldives hate all foreigners... Lets face it, if it was not a place of beauty it would be he poorest country in the world with this racist regime.

  8. As a comman citizen I must say sorry to GMR as they are mostly in the midddle of all this local politics.But they should have realised the way they got this deal is not all so professional.And the way the went in bed with Anni....Parliament was opposed to this deal as well as the MACL board at the time,and every one saw he dismissed the whole board and within hours Annis hand picked board signed it GMR saw all this.So a lot of ordinary people are suspicious of this deal for so many reasons.

  9. Tell the MACL that people unhappy with the regime's BS said hello.

  10. Current Maldives government is run by barberic gang of thugs. Unfortunately, they are not aware of the extreme and destructive consequences which can result from playing with fire. So sad my beautiful homeland gone to the Dogs...

  11. Today adhaalath party manages to terminate gmr contract, tomorrow nexbiz they'll protest to ban liquor and pork from resorts or else terminate all resort contracts who sell haraam goods saying those contracts too are "void ab initio" (invalid from onset) that when we say things have gone too far?

  12. In total agreement with what 'ab initio coup' has said. These are the actions of a very desperate, immature and foolish cabinet and President. With these actions against other countries, then we Maldivians should forget about travel to other countries and foreign investment from other countries. Really stupid even for a coup government. Makes me wonder what kind of a hold the extremist sheik imran has over Waheed and his cabinet for them to resort to breaking the agreement the way they did and these tactics. Looks like a very desperate finance minister too.

  13. Maldives was to eat chinese fried noodles, has become tired of eating Indian Daal and Roti!

  14. Truly Banana Republic in every sense.

    A neighbour can only help if you are ready to help yourselves , otherwise it will be seen as a powerful neighbour interfering in a small nation's internal conflict against the wishes of the people. An indirect occupation...

    How can you let a small group of vocal group take over majority of Maldivians and the country.

    Don't put your responsibility on others and wait for help , it is your country too....

  15. i am no big supporter of gmr they are just like any other capitalist driven mnc ,funny it seem excuse being given by maldivian adc- similar charges are in operation from airports in trv,col and maldivian pay it.The crux of the problem will not go away even if gmr is kicked OUT since whoever is going to take their position will have to levy similar charges since airline aren't going to buck any additional charges on account of airport development.I am terribly dissapointed with waheeed's government since what he displays is pandering to extremist forces at any cost these will worry any potential investor in maldives THE FUNDAMENTALIST S will agitate and your investment will be down the drain so no sane mnc group can invest in maldives due to volatility of it politicians and possibly it people

  16. it is sorry to hear regressive comments in the blog against a foreign investor like GMR..there is a civilised way of doing international business by a country..this move my the maldivian govt would be counter productive..the president or his cabinet will continue to live in luxury whereas the common people shall case the contract with GMR was not to the liking of the govt they were and are well within their right to amend ask somebody to leave siteing abinitio illegality of the contract only bespeaks of novice nature of the present regime..this administration has petty short term selfish interests..and i am sure will break under pressure

  17. The Wall street Journal, Business Standard and other business journals/websites are covering this very significant development. Maldives has proven to the world that it has no Business sense and any foreign multinational company wanting to do business here, will think 100 times about setting up shop here!

  18. Plane tickets and hotel booking for February cancelled. Bye bye Maldives, hello Seychelles. It was nice knowing you. All the best.

  19. off funding in maldives my a!2 indian black money is being off shored in mauritius and dubai & rooted back to india or invested in dubai, i dont think any sane indian money launder would invest in maldives ,especially after gmc problem

  20. This from the Adhaalath twitter feed....

    "Today we removed GMR, tomorrow we will remove every single Indian who owns resorts in this nation. This nation would be purged of filth....."

    "No president should have absolute power, what we need is a coalition council that presides over presidential matters like in Iran."

    Truly frightening.

  21. MissIndia NewDelhi

    I am quite glad India has learnt its lesson that it cannot arm-twist Maldives as they do for Bhutan and Nepal. Face it India the so called largest democracy is also the shallowest democracy. Look at your caste sytem and the way you treat minorities in the North East. India is no superpower it is simply a regional bully with racist organizations like RSS. You should also supplement your knowledge of the Indian economics with the following.
    How good is your government when you invest in superpower nuclear weapons when millions of Indian mothers have no access to health care.
    India and Nigeria accounted for a third of global maternal deaths, with India at 19% (56,000) and Nigeria at 14% (40,000)
    According to 2010 data from the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated 37.2% of Indians live below the country's national poverty line.[2] A 2010 report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) states that 8 Indian states have more poor people than 26 poorest African nations combined which totals to more than 410 million poor in the poorest African countries

  22. If the canceling the contract is done for the benefits of Maldivian people, this action should be applauded. But this action was purely political to garner support of Mullahs to clear the image of coup president who has bad image in his religious belief.,

  23. Soooo funny, people of the Maldives believe this has been done to protect their interest. The chosen few just wanted the airport and its revenue in their pockets (GY). That is all its about, will you ever see the new deal regarding the ownership? Male airport is a mess no improvements or investment. why? because your previous dictator and friends took the revenues and gave nothing back. Looking on the bright-side some work has been done by GMR which is better than nothing and will have to last for another 50 years!
    The Maldivian robbery is about to begin again, if Gayooms daughter wasn't so ugly I would hook up with her and get a share of the prize!! LOL!!

  24. Lol, Indians gonna withdraw their financal aid package. We Maldivians have earned ourselves starvation hahahahahahahaha.

  25. Indeed it is GMR's deal with the devil (endorsement of the coup) coming back to bite it. Baghee Waheed and his overlord Gayoom are not getting the kickbacks they demand from GMR so they will find a new contractor who is more compliant.

  26. All this trouble was created by the previous president's naivety. When the GMR started the Airport Development Charge, the people protested. To make the people happy he said the govt will foot that bill also. That's where this airport deal actually started making loss for the govt. President Anni is a very bad salesman. Basically what he doesn't have is the sense to make sales pitch, to have patience to wait out the discount urges, basic things like this. He just boldly went into this deal cowboy style and said govt will foot a bill it cannot afford. The least he can do is to seek advice of finance experts.

    A business deal is viable if the partners will share profits and loss. Here is a highly one sided deal which will never make any profit for the govt while the GMR will make immense profits without risks year after year. SO its extortion endorsed by a naive president who didn't have business sense.

  27. It will simply me another bank the ministers and the cabinet will be fed. now only the money bags in maldives know the meaning of "INTERNATIONAL AIR PORT" and how much money we are talking about. I was working at the airport around 2003. I personally saw the airport plans, the bridging plans and everything.. what happened? none of them left the approval table. nothing happened for 30 or more years. and nothing WILL happen for the next 30 years if Maldives takes over. yes Ia m a Maldivian. My view would have been better if the leaders in over country were a tad bit honest.... what do we need more, we have a pervert guiding islam, a president sponsored by a bagaavaai, and ministers who have been eating the maldives reserves for the past millenia.. I still say shoot them point blank. All of em.

  28. India did make the mistake of hugging traitor Waheed, and the fake coalition government who somehow managed to get the CoNI report to conclude, that the coup, which took place in front of media and right in front of us, was not a coup.

    India may not be the perfect country on this planet with no faults and weaknesses.

    However, it is a much needed partner to the Maldives in every aspect of or daily lives!

    It is pitiful that this traitor government is going this far without thinking simple mathematics and common sense!

    By the looks of things happening, we are turning into an "Animal Farm", run by pigs!

    The first signs of this is the grand monument MNDF has built at what it used to be the "Gulha kulhey fasgandu" (like the Tienanmen square in China), where the citizens of Male' before 1978 used to gather when there was a national crisis.

    But today, this sight is mostly visited by tourists (very especially Chinese who stand before this monument posing for photos to be taken back at home to be shown).

    This monument is built at the spot where on November 3rd 1988, where a hole was made in the rear wall of the National Security Headquarters bu invaders using a RPG.

    The monument seems to depict that the Maldive National Defence Force is the defender of the nation and would defend the country from any invasions!

    However, it is pitiful to mention that on 6th and 7th of February 2012, there was a call for this Defence force to defend the nation from an invading force from within the nation!

    What we are seeing today is the failure of this!

    It is not possible to think unless this force undo the grave mistake they did, we cannot be at peace, or be leading a normal life!

    It is of hope that India understand these and act to the best interest of both our nations!

  29. Oh Dear, we poor Indians have this awful caste system......we have terrible poverty in our country with shocking levels of infant mortality......we have rightwing hindu fundamentalists like the RSS and we are soooooooooo horrible to our minorities in the northeast......oh dear whatever shall we do!!
    Wish we were more like the Maldives..........with a bankrupt economy, scary levels of drug addiction among our youth and political instability that make banana republics like Rwanda and Congo look stable.
    Holy Krishna, what are we doing wrong?......why are we a free, secular and democratic country with a booming economy......why?

  30. I dont know why people are keen in
    investing in country like maldives

    which has no future with hardly a population of 300 thousand and which is going to go down the water in couple of years

  31. What the hack is talkin here. Gmr is not india and this has nothing to do with indian government or it's people. This solely against with a consotium of Malaysian company and Indian company. So why u picking only indiaa d it should also pick Malaysia also.

    Gmr had not invested much money and they probably would have done few millions from the revenue they generatEd thorugh the apt operation. There much bigger foreign investments in Maldives like Hpl group from Singapore taj group from Indian. Keels group from Sri Lanka Sbi from india Atiken spense from Lanka centara group from Thailand. Anantara group from Thailand etc.
    These companies have been doing business in Maldives for very long time and no body bothers them.

  32. As an Indian I am humbled and humiliated. Maldives is an independent nation and it has taken a decision. That must be respected by our Government and our companies. No one can question the Sovereignty of Govt of Maldives specially since Govt of India itself recognizes the New Govt in power.

    Also we should cut our loses and leave. Huge amount of subsidy, liberal Visa or immigration regime, support on Health and education, daily supply of essential food items and various other help is sole prerogative of Government of India and doesn't require parliamentary oversight. So legally they can stop it as Maldives has already found partners in Pakistan and China. China is huge and can easily rescue Maldives financially and militarily. Pakistan is an Islamic country and can easily provide education and health services to Maldives.

    Quite frankly we Indians should learn that Maldives has strategic choices and they will exercise it. We do have concern on our own security if Chinese and Pakistanis end up making Maldives a base but we should plan for it. My God save India. Really troubling development indeed.

  33. This is what a prominent newspaper in India sums it up
    "The government on Sunday also reviewed overall relationship with Maldives at the highest level and discussed various options in view of anti-India sentiment that could hurt India’s interests “directly”.It was noted that rule of law is weak and India will have to be ready with proportional response to deal with any contingency. Accordingly, various options were considered, which included stronger measures to protect India’s interests, the sources said."

    I am also attaching the link

    To sum it up ..Maldives should be ready to face all eventuality including a "possible military option being exercised by India'...This is actually imminent...



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