Cause of seaplane crash remains uncertain

The civil aviation authority is yet to determine what caused a Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane to crash land near the Kuredhu Island Resort last week.

The accident investigation coordination committee said in a statement last night that the investigation will continue once the seaplane is resurfaced. The coastguard, police, and TMA are assisting the investigation.

The Twin Otter seaplane sank within minutes of crash-landing around 5:30pm last Tuesday. A speedboat rescued the 11 tourist passengers and three crew members within minutes.

The investigation committee said it has retrieved the seaplane’s records, recovered some of the seaplane’s parts with help from the army, and interviewed passengers and crew.

The MNDF and TMA have made a plan to recover the submerged seaplane, the committee said.

Seaplane accidents are rare in the Maldives. In February 2012, an Maldivian Air Taxi aircraft crash-landed on the water runway at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport with nine passengers due to poor weather conditions. None of the passengers or crew sustained injuries.

A TMA flight crash-landed near Biyadhoo Island resort in February 2011.


President presents MIRA’s “Ran Laari” awards

President Abdulla Yameen presented the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority’s (MIRA) “Ran Laari” (golden laari) awards at a ceremony last night to 11 taxpayers that paid the highest amount of tax last year.

According to MIRA, taxes paid by the 11 recipients accounted for 17 percent of the MVR9.8 billion (US$636 million) collected as tax revenue in 2013.

The five private companies that paid the highest amount in taxes were Villa Shipping and Trading Company, Trans-Maldivian Airways, Crown Company, Kurehdhoo Holding, and Sunland Hotels.

Among government-owned companies, the award was presented to the Maldives Airports Company while the daughter of former Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, Aminath Sheznee, the late Hussain Shakir, BHM owner Hussain Moosa, and Helegili resort operator Annie Mary Emmy were given the award in the individual category.

Speaking at the ceremony in Dharubaaruge, President Yameen said MIRA’s efforts were “credit worthy” and praised the authority’s employees.

The “litmus test” for MIRA’s success and efficiency should be how much the cost of administration declines every year, he added.

Yameen suggested that the authority’s target should be spending 10 laari for every MVR199 (US$13) collected as tax revenue.

MIRA’s work would have to be “amplified” in the future in conjunction with the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and broaden the tax base, he said.

The tax base, structure, terminology, and methodology would be very different from the current “simplistic corporate taxation” once new industries are introduced, Yameen explained, referring to a possible petroleum tax as an example.

A custom duty levied at the border for imported goods for the easiest tax to collect as opposed to value added taxes such as sales taxes, he noted, which involves a much higher cost of administration.

In the future, he added, all sales transactions should “ultimately” be viewable on a MIRA main frame as it would significantly lower administrative costs.

Taxation in any country inevitably involves “tax fraud,” Yameen continued, which involves tax evasion and deliberate fraud.

While the current administration did not wish to criminalise and prosecute businesses, Yameen said cases of tax evasion could not be disregarded.


Civil Aviation Authority investigation under-way over capsized seaplane

The Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed that an investigation is presently taking place into an incident that saw a Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane capsized near to the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort yesterday.

CAA Chief Executive Hussain Jaleel told Minivan News today that no one had been injured in the incident, which had resulted in some structural damage.

“We are investigating the matter right now,” he said. “There are reports of some structural damage so we are required to do this, but there have been no injuries recorded.”

When questioned as to whether the incident may lead to a wider review of current seaplane procedures in the Maldives, Jaleel said that it was not possible to say without the report’s conclusion.

“Let’s see what the report finds first,” he added.

Citing an unidentified contact who claimed to be present on the resort at the time, newspaper Haveeru reported yesterday that the incident occurred after a propeller on the seaplane’s left side struck a platform. The collision was reported to have broken a pontoon and resulted in the aircraft then capsizing.