The parliament has commenced preliminary debate on an amendment presented by the government to the Immigration Act.
The amendment was presented to the parliament by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeco’ Moosa Manik on behalf of the government, with the intention of easing the process for investors and foreign businessmen to settle down in the Maldives.
If the amendment is passed, residential visas will be issued for persons mentioned in article 6[a] of the Immigration Act: a foreigner married to a Maldivian, or a former spouse of a Maldivian citizen who is assigned the guardianship of their child by a court of law.
A foreigner who has invested in a business which is declared by the Economic Ministry as a large investment will also be allowed a residential visa according to the new amendment presented, or foreigners who have invested in a government project to enhance the economy of the country.
Speaking in parliament’s sitting today Peoples Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur expressed concern that the bill would allow Israeli nationals to live in the Maldives, and that it was a threat to the sovereignty of the country.
Jamal said that the bill needs to clearly define how the Economic Ministry will determine the distinction between large businesses and investments, and how many persons can have residential visas.
He also alleged that the amendment was drafted with the intention of letting specific foreigners in the Maldives have residential visas, and said he would not support the amendment.
Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP and Parliamentary Group leader Riyaz Rasheed also alleged that the government was attempting to deploy Israelis to the Maldives and “make them wear white jubba [Arab garment] and promote their religion in this country.”
He also claimed that the government was intending to issue the residential visas to foreigners brought to the country by Indian infrastructure giant GMR, which is managing and upgrading the country’s main airport.