Members calls on govt. to withdraw bill on extending Maldives resort lease

Saturday, 27 December 2008 20:30

Members of the People’s Majlis at the Majlis sitting held on Wednesday called on the government to withdraw the bill proposed to amend the Maldives Tourism Act to facilitate leasing of resort islands to a maximum period of 50 years.

Member of the Majlis for Dhaalu atoll ADK Ahmed Nashid speaking on the proposed bill said that the bill once endorsed by the Majlis will facilitate the way for the government to raise some 1.2 billion rufiyaa to the state budget. However he pointed out the government must satisfy the Majlis on the reasons for extending the lease period of certain resorts by 15 years. He revealed that certain resorts have been leased out for more than 15 years, in violation of the law. He said it is acceptable to lease the resort islands, under a suitable system for periods of 99 years, but that the government should not be looking at raising funds to the state budget by extending lease periods of the resorts. He said this not “Wathan Edhey Goih” and called on the government to withdraw the bill.

Member of the Majlis for Noonu atoll as well as former President Gayoom brother Abdulla Yamin said that extending the resort lease periods either 50 years or 99 years ins not a problems but that such as extension at this point in time will bring any benefit to the economy.

Yamin who also heads the political party , People’s Alliance said even though the bill is aimed to lure more foreign investments to the tourism industry, extension of the resort lease periods to 50 years, at a time when global economy is on the down turn , will not work out as incentives to investors. Yamin also asked why the need for sudden urgency in getting bill endorsed especially in light of the fact the present Majlis will soon be completing its term.

Speaking on the proposed bill to amend the tourism law, member of the Majlis for Meemu atoll Ahmed Nazim expressed support for the bill but raised questions on time the government wants the bill be passed.

He further said expressed regrets over the government’s intention to amend the Tourism Law by proposing to extend the lease periods of the resorts without addressing many other issues related to the industry. He accused the government of trying to fulfill a secret pledge made with certain industry stakeholders.

Speaking during the debate which resulted in several heated exchanges between the opposition and the government, Raa atoll member Ali Waheed called on the government to withdraw the bill. He highlighted that many members cannot vote on the bill as they have a personal interest.

Addu member Mohamed Aslam expressed that bill contains many issues that need to be addressed and while the Tourism Law contains many inadequacies, extension of resort lease period should not singled out.

Many members on Wednesday’s sitting expressed that while the government proposed to extend the resort lease period to a maximum of 50 years, the bill lacked adequate procedure.

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