Opposition coalition drafting bill on airport management

The opposition coalition against airport privatisation has announced the four opposition parties – including the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhoree Party (JP), People’s Alliance (PA) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) – will draft a bill governing “operations and rules” at  Male’ International Airport.

A statement issued by the coalition said the draft bill would be presented to parliament this week.

“We will not hesitate to take action against those who violated the law in leasing Male’ International Airport, a state asset, to [Indian infrastructure firm] GMR for 25 years,” said the statement.

“We assure the people of the Maldives that we stand steady and go forward on this issue.’’

The opposition parties – which strongly oppose the government’s decision to upgrade the airport under a 25 year management contract to the GMR-Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) consortium – have not yet revealed whether the bill will oppose the deal outright, or restrict its operations in some way.

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom said the contents of the bill would be disclosed on conclusion of the drafting process, but said he believed the bill’s object “is not to utterly obstruct the leasing of the international airport.”

Leader of the DQP Dr Hassan Saeed refused to comment to Minivan News on the issue.

According to a report in Haveeru, the DQP’s Deputy Leader Dr Mohamed Jameel told the newspaper in a statement that the bill’s objective was to ensure the airport was “managed by the government or a [Maldivian] company assigned by the government. The aim is to prevent [the government] from giving the airport to a foreign party. The bill will specify everything very clearly,” he said.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said opposition coalition had proved they had vested interests concerned concerning the lease of the airport, and “have shown they are not working not in the interests of the nation, but rather their own self-interest.”

”When the first announced the proposal and published it locally and internationally, no person expressed concern or protested against it,” said Zuhair. ”Because the government did not receive [acceptable bids], the government requested proposals a second time, this time with the assistance of the World Bank.”

Opposition parties were silent throughout, he said, and expressed disapproval “only when the transaction had reached its final stages.”

Zuhair queried the coalition’s claims that leasing the airport compromised the country’s nationalism: “It is only the management of the Airport that we are handing over to GMR – the water company is operated the same way, and so far no one has complained about that. It just shows how insincere the opposition are being.”

The GMR-MAHB consortium will spend US$373 million upgrading the international airport after winning the controversial bid. Last week it held workshops with airport staff and stakeholders to determine what would be required.

Speaking at the opening of the cavernous Delhi Terminal 3, GMR Manager P Sri Pathi told Maldivian journalists that physical work would begin on the airport towards the end of this year.


19 thoughts on “Opposition coalition drafting bill on airport management”

  1. I am afraid that this might scare away foreign investors. I call upon the government and the opposition to sit down and find a middle ground. A draconian law is not the solution. A foreign company may also operate Male International or any other airport if they could bring right investment. I call upon government to reach out to the opposition and the oppositions to show cooperation.

  2. MAHB main shareholder is Sime Darby Bhd. It is very interesting I came across following post on the internet just a couple of days ago.

    Recently, Musa demanded Sime Darby to charter and pay for the travel bills of Maldives President on business jet to attend the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) held in Kuala Lumpur.
    President Mohamad Nasheed’s bills came to slightly over RM one million and it is thought that Tun Musa did this because the former is the latter’s personal friend.
    This is highly irregular since the travel is deemed to be wrongful use of company’s expense and Sime Darby is just a sponsor and not an organiser of WIEF.
    I wonder if the comment in this blog has something to do with the Airport Privatization Bid and its award to GMR-MAHB consortium.

  3. As Press Secretary Zuhair notes, the opposition has been totally silent on this issue until the bid was awarded to GMR. The bidding process was open to ALL private parties including national and multinational firms. This was under the direction of International Finance Corporation an arm of The World Bank. Notably, not a single Maldivian firm put forward a bid.

    So, where is the hidden agenda? The hidden agenda simply lies with the opposition business interests. Who is paying for the drafting of this bill by Hassan Saeed and Jameel? Simply no other than Raagodi Al-Capone aka Yaameen and Co! Just like the real Al-Capone, Raagodi Al-Capone's empire has very long tentacles spread throughout the nation. It's dodgy oil business is now threatened by the privatisation of Airport handling.

    Privatisation of the Airport is beneficial to the country in any way you look at it. The national government nor any local private parties have the means to invest the vast amounts needed to upgrade the infrastructure and manage it. Where is Buruma going to find $400m to invest? Not a single financial institution will lend that kind of money to a Maldivian firm!

    Then there's the question of value for money. When you look at the benefits this investment will bring, there's no argument. The increase in tourist passenger numbers that the new Airport will handle paves the way to a jump in revenue that will NOT materialise if either the government or a local firm manage this place.

    In addition, IF and WHEN the opposition show sincerity and pass the taxation bill, profits of companies like GMR can be taxed for the benefit of the national Treasury.

    Why are we not seeing these arguments presented to the nation? Why are we seeing only the opposition bull shit all over the press? Does the government lack qualified people to articulate these things simply and clearly to the people? What's going on?

  4. Yes it is very clear that Musa Hitham have organized to pay all this luxury to president nasheed is very much to do with the Airport Privatization Bid and its award to GMR-MAHB consortium.

    Musa Hitham is now facing corruption charges at Sime Darby malaysia.

  5. this is ridiculous.Some narrow minded politicians are destrying the opportunities of huge foreign investments in the country.As it is Britian has issued advisory and business is down.Are we closing the country and making it a jail that it has been before we fought for the democracy ?.This airport bid was scrutinised and finalised by the world bank's IFC.Let us citizens of Maldives not allow our country to suffer in the hands of the thugs who have looted the country in the past by stopping this world class airport being built in Male.Let us oppose those those who want to stop the project and hold back on the economic progress of this beloved country.

  6. i totally agree with sooraj's comment.
    all this fiasco abt airport privatizatiosn is bcoz mr gasim and afeefs dummy company with the swiss firm failed to win the bid...

  7. More like some MP's are looking for a way to make a quick buck in bribes.
    If GMR can let Yameen sell fuel to airlines like he is doing now i think this airport deal could go smoothly for them.

  8. Ahmed, the problem is not that it is leased but the way it was leased. IFC got HALCRO a British company to design the airport and they have an office in India so that was where this whole thing was planned. The main reason is that Hanimaadhoo was given to GMR and they demanded 6000 beds which the Tourism industry opposed so to keep GMR happy they gave Male International Airport.
    It would have been much better to give a management contract to an established airport operator who has had the pedigree of airport management of more than a few years than to go about this way as even with such bad management the Airport was making money.

  9. how can i put this bluntly....


    MAHB is owned partly by the Malaysian Government (70%) and partly by the public as it is a public listed company.

    The WORLD BANK has said there is no corruption on this deal - they (unlike the opposition parties of the Maldives) actually think before talking.

    This is just another attempt by Parliament led opposition to stop the Government from doing something good for the people because MDP doing good would hurt their chances of a winning an election.....

  10. Here's whats likely to contain in the bill

    a) All rights to sell fuel from the airport must be given on the basis of a competitive bid. The qualifying criteria for the winner is that they must be have the letters Y.M.E.A.N.E, and/or G.S.A.M.I in their names.

    b) Investments at the airport must be done only by Maldivian companies. Once again,the following rules on letters of names apply. If they do not have the capacity to make the investments, then the people of Maldives must wait until they do.

  11. Would this lot also draft laws to aquire the resorts managed by overseas investors?

  12. This so called Dr Jameel and Dr Hassan Saeed are goners!! Power hungry zealots trying to hold this country to ransom. No way guys. No way!

  13. Gasim against airport because he doesn't want competition for his own PRIVATIZED airport in Maamagilli.

    Yameen against this because he's making a nice little earner in the airport fuel racket.

    Hassan Saeed against this because he is owned by Gasim and Yameen.

    End of story.

  14. I wonder if some utility companies can get loans worth more than $100 million as claimed by the government for sewerage systems, construction of roads..etc , why wouldn't it be possible for airports company which has a history of annual profits and with the potential for growth get a loan facilitated by the government.

    Even under the current scenario GMR consortium will probably lend from an international financial institution. And that can only be realized because the airport development project is feasible and the forecasts for profitability are positive.
    As a counter argument if one goes back to the history of airports company and their corruption, my opinion is that its not a justified opinion. Its MDP who are in the government now and by expressing that opinion it would be to admit their own failure to deal with these issues since they came to power. Admitting that they failed to change the status quo. And to privatize all corrupt and mismanaged companies and business to foreigners is a short cut and taking safe side. In the long run there is a possibility that we might be economic slaves to foreigners. Once these companies who are backed by their governments and with networks and influences in the international area spreads their web I don't see them leaving.

    From the people I have met and discussed regarding this issue all impartial persons see the fact of the matter as following.

    Government is desperate to block the money pipes of Gasim n Yaameen..co as they claim and attach their own pipes to the airport with outflows to senior politicians within them. Its simple as that.

  15. I wish the government bids Maldives to a developed nation for like 50-100 years. Just like the way Hong Kong was given to the British. Atleast we will come out of all these problems and will be prospered by the end of the next 50 years. If we remain with all these current politicians, I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I know some people won't like my this comment, but I don't care.

  16. @Saleem
    Well, well you say Sime Darby has no share in MAHB, then why was Musa Hitam the chairman of SD sitting at the BID Award ceremony and why was he part of the signatories jointly with GMR & Govt. So the point addressed is there are indications that a private jet from SD was sent to take President Nasheed and his deligation to KL to attend WIEF.
    Press Secretary then said to media the jet was provided by the WIEF Organizers. That sounds a bit strange!!

  17. @Radhun

    Musa Hitam was not the Malaysian at the Bid Award Ceremony.

    It was Bashir Ahmed Abdul MAjid - who happens to be the CEO of MAHB.

    Once again please check your facts- or do all foreigners just look the same to you.

    So what the President was flown on a private jet to Malaysia to attend WIEF? Note that Musa Hitam is the Chairman of WIEF.

    At least unlike the previous president he wouldn't waste tax payers money to hire an entire airplane for himself.

    Moreover this has NOTHING to do with the award of MACL to GMR/MAHB.


    however, if you , in your supposed infinite wisdom about the dealings of international finance and government nepotism, find this evidence - then I would be the first to call on the MDP to resign...

  18. World Bank Indian team was in charge of the deal and certainly more interested in pleasing GMR-Indian interest (maybe their next employer, or employer of their classmates) than making a fair deal for the Maldivian people, where they will nether make any personal benefit...

    That said, what I dislike is the hurry of Pdt Nasheed in getting the deal signed, passing over MACL board and this is what raise suspicion, instead of having fair and transparent evaluation process shared not only between Razee and Hashim fellows

    What is clear is that the ruling team seemed very happy to sign for a 27% revenue sharing on the fuel, which will bring the fuel price to unacceptable levels for the airlines and blow tourism development chances... unless the government just offered GMR a way to score better than the other bidders and will renegotiate with GMR afterwards...



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