Laamu Gan Asseyri project to proceed: Tourism Minister

The government has apologised for miscommunications which led to the “unfortunate” media coverage of a contract between the Ministry of Tourism and J Hotels and Resorts for a mid-market tourism center at Laamu Gan Asseyri Project, Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa has said.

“The Cabinet did not decide to cancel the contract, if you read the government gazette closely it just put the project on hold for some time. The intention was never to withdraw the agreement,” she explained.

Minivan News recently reported along with local media that the Cabinet had terminated its contract with J Hotels and Resorts and would solicit further bids for the project. Company chairman and former MP Abdulla Jabir issued emphatic warnings that he would sue the government.

Jabir today said he has been informed by the Minister that the Cabinet would approve the project.

“So far I’ve been advised that it will go forward, so we’ll see how things go. I don’t know what the Cabinet will do, one day they make a decision the other day they change it, but in time we will see how it proceeds,” he said.

Jabir reiterated that the Minister had assured him that the project would go forward, and that he had no bad relations with any ministry.

Speaking with Minivan News yesterday Zulfa said, “J Hotel and the Tourism Ministry were and are keen to get the project going, especially since the President has said that the mid-market project is a priority to the government and that it will make sure that project gets done.”

Given the project’s value, Zulfa said the Cabinet wanted to ensure that everything was in line with the government’s vision before proceeding with the agreement. She believed the Cabinet had not been provided with sufficient information to make an informed decision on the matter.

Zulfa said she has now presented all the relevant information to the Cabinet, and the project will move forward.

“The government enjoys a good relation with the development party, and we regret the unfortunate turn of events that led to this misunderstanding,” she said.

The Asseyri project, launched in March, aims to bring two 300-bed hotels and 69 guest houses to the 25 hectare area along with recreation activities, water sports and restaurants.

“Right now we can’t cater to the mid-market tourists who want to have options when they make a trip to or within the Maldives. This will give them that opportunity. And the basis of the project will be the natural beauty–the beach, lagoon and reef are absolutely fantastic,” said Zulfa.

She added that the mid-market project is designed in and around the airport development project, and will offer job opportunities and economic growth.

Moving away from the existing one island, one hotel tourism product, the Asseyri (beachside) project intends to rent out commercial components of an area to different parties, allowing larger numbers of local entrepreneurs to participate in the Maldives’ lucrative tourism sector.

In July, Addu City Council announced its intention to incorporate the project’s core values and aspects into Addu City’s development plan.

The two areas ear-marked for the project are the Maafishi Area of Hulhumeedhoo Island and the start of the Hankede area, Hithadhoo.


Cabinet moves ahead with Nexbis border control deal despite ACC objections

The Maldivian cabinet has reportedly decided to move ahead with implementing a border control system designed by Malaysia-based Nexbis after overruling concerns raised by the Anti-Corruption Commission that halted the deal earlier in the year.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair told newspaper Haveeru today that after two weeks of discussions, the cabinet had decided to move ahead with the Nexbis agreement originally signed back in October 2010. Zuhair was unavailable for comment on the decision when contacted by Minivan News.

The Nexbis deal had been bought to a halt soon after being signed as the ACC ordered a halt on a contract between the Department of Immigration and the Malaysia based mobile security firm over claims that were instances where corruption may have occurred. The ACC order was upheld by President Mohamed Nasheed in January, who requested that the Department of Immigration and Emigration adhere to the ACC’s guidance until it rules over the next step for the project

The ACC’s claims were vehemently denied by Nexbis, which announced days later that it was consider taking legal action against unspecified parties in the country that it alleged had “wrought irreparable damage to [the company’s] reputation and brand name” alleging attempts to halt the deal were “politically motivated” in nature.

According to Haveeru, ACC Deputy Commissioner Muawwiz Rasheed claimed following the cabinet’s decision today that only a Maldivian court could invalidate the decision to halt the project – even one with the reported support of the country’s executive arm.

“It’s mandatory for the department to follow our orders. The investigation is ongoing,” he was quoted as saying in the paper.