Villa sues government over revised rent for picnic island

Villa Shipping and Trading has sued the Tourism Ministry over an increase in rent for the picnic island Kaafu Kudafinolhu, reports Sun Online.

Under the lease agreement made in January 1998, annual rent for the first five years was set at US$1,500.

Villa’s team of lawyers, which includes former Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, claim that the new government hiked the annual rent to US$47,840 in September 2009 without consulting the company as stipulated in the agreement.

State Attorney Mariyam Shunana however countered that the Tourism Ministry consulted Villa twice before revising the rent.

Judge Ali Rasheed Hussein adjourned yesterday’s hearing after providing the state ten days to respond to the claim.

The Villa Group of Companies is owned by Maamigii MP Gasim Ibrahim, former Finance Minister under the previous government before he resigned to contest the presidency. After joining the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition for the presidential election run-off in October 2008, Gasim however resigned as Home Minister of the new administration after 21 days in office.