Indian PM asks for “amicable” settlement in GMR issue

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has requested President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to “amicably” settle the GMR airport issue.

In a media statement regarding Yameen’s first state visit to India, Singh said he had  discussed ways of expanding bilateral economic relations and said that an increase in Indian investments in Maldives would contribute to expansion of bilateral economic relations.

“In this context, I requested President Yameen to amicably settle the issue of Male International Airport and address the problems that some of our investors are facing. “ Singh said.

In 2010, the GMR Male International Airport Pvt Ltd (GMIAL) – a consortium of the Indian GMR Group (77%) and the Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (23%) — was awarded a concession contract to manage Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male for a period of 25 years.

However President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government – of which President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was a coalition partner –prematurely terminated the concession agreement.

GMR later filed a compensation claim of US$1.4 billion for “wrongful termination”.

Singh said Indo-Maldives bilateral trade is worth INR 7billion (USD 112 million), but the balance is “overwhelmingly in India’s favor”. He said he would like see a more balanced growth in bilateral trade and pledged to encourage flow of Indian tourists to Maldives.

The prime minister said that India “is committed to supporting peace, stability and progress in Maldives” and that he is confident that Maldives will be able to fulfill the aspirations of its citizens under President Yameen’s leadership, and that Maldives will be able to play its due role in the region, opening a new chapter in Indo-Maldives bilateral relations.

Meanwhile local media ‘CNM‘ has reported that the Maldives government is working on an out of court settlement with GMR. Quoting Yameen as saying at a meeting with Indian businessmen, CNM says the the government and GMR are discussing to settle the issue by mutual agreement.