MATI not taking sides on proposed resort lease amendments

Proposed amendments to the Tourism Act relating to lease extensions for Maldivian resorts are said to have divided opinion among industry insiders, according to the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).

MATI Secretary General ‘Sim’ Mohamed Ibrahim told Minivan News that proposals presented to the Majlis yesterday by MP Abdu Raheem Abdulla, if passed, would allow 50 year lease extension payments to be made gradually on an annual basis.  Sim claimed that the decision to support or oppose the amendment had proven difficult for the association, with different resort owners welcoming and opposing the bill.

“MATI cannot take sides on this issue. While we have some people who can pay the money straight away, we know of others [resort owners], who would prefer the amendments,” he said.

According to newspaper Haveeru, Abdulla’s proposed amendment would allow contractors requesting an extension of their existing lease to pay a US$100,000 fee to pay instalments every year over the life of the contract.

Abdulla was reported to have forwarded the amendment over fears that news jobs would not be created in the country if the government received upfront payments from extension agreements.

Sim said that he believed that at present, the government preferred the system currently in use where lease extensions were paid within an 18-month period of a contract being signed by a resort.

A Tourism Ministry spokesperson confirmed that the Government’s official view was that it supported existing tourism laws that supported an upfront fee payment made over a shorter time-frame.

The spokesperson conceded that he had not fully read the proposals forwarded by Abdulla at present and was unable to elaborate on further on the exact changes they may entail for the industry.