Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called for the reinstatement of the airport development contract with Indian GMR Infrastructure and warned the party will terminate any new agreements if it comes to power.
“The MDP immediately calls on the Government of Maldives that instead of repealing the annulled agreement in order to award it to another party, to render it to its original benefactor. The failure to conduct this repeal would allow Maldives to suffer unforeseeable risk and irrevocable harm,” the party said in a statement today.
“[T]his party on this day hereby resolves that any government formed by this party shall annul all corrupt agreements made by this government regarding the airport and render it back to whom it is rightfully due.”
The warning comes following President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s call for new airport developers at an investment forum in Singapore.
The GMR, in consortium with Malaysia Aiports, narrowly won the International Finance Corporation (IFC) managed bid for the airport in 2010, and signed the agreement with Maldives Airport Company Ltd (MACL) under the former government of Mohamed Nasheed.
However, following a nationalist campaign to evict GMR and Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012, new President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan declared GMR’s concession agreement ‘void ab intio’ (invalid from the outset) in December 2012, and gave GMR seven days to leave the country.
After Singaporean court upheld the government’s decision, the GMR filed a claim for US$ 1.4 billion in compensation from the Maldives – a figure that eclipses the annual state budget. Arbitration proceedings are now underway in Singapore.
Yameen has conceded the government must compensate GMR, but said the company is only owed US$ 300 million.
The MDP noted an Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation had confirmed the GMR agreement to be corruption free and said the agreement had been made according to legal and international best practices.
The ACC noted an MACL managed airport would raise US$ 254 million in 25 years while the GMR consortium would bring in US$ 534 million.
“For these reasons the MDP Government, having found that the best advantage for the Government of Maldives would be to privatise the airport, it was assigned to GMR with the benefit and wellbeing of Maldivian people in mind; where it was impliedly and manifestly known that the matter was undertaken not for political gain but rather for the public good,” the party said.
“Notwithstanding this, those in the opposition at that time not only distorted the facts completely to the people; but the consecutive coup government that followed unscrupulously annulled the Airport Agreement. MDP is adamant to the fact that their position did not consider the wellbeing of the nation and its people.”