Nasheed claims VIA could have been developed for free

Mohamed Nasheed
The Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed | Photo: Majilis

Male’, Maldives – Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that a large sum of money has to be paid as repayment of the loans taken to develop and extend Velana International Airport (VIA), which could have been developed for free.

During the Parliamentary deliberation of the report formulated by the Budget Review Committee of the Parliament regarding the budget for the year 2021, Nasheed indirectly participated in the deliberation, after stating that he wanted to clarify some points to the Members, after which he read out from a list of banks to which Maldives would have to pay as loan repayments, which mainly consisted of Chinese banks.

Nasheed read out the total repayment amount as USD 199.25 million, which equals to MVR 3.6 billion.

All Members of the Parliament would know that the Velana International Airport could have been developed for free, after a 25 year period during which a party could have developed and run the airport and handed over to us. It has been that long now.

– Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed said.

Nasheed is believed to have been referred to a foreign party, much like the foreign company GMR, to which VIA was given during Nasheed’s presidency. However, following the sudden turnover of his administration, the agreement with GMR was cancelled and the airport was taken back by the government.

As a result of the cancellation of the agreement which was initially valid for 35 years, the Maldivian government had to pay GMR a substantial amount as cancellation, which was eventually paid off during the administration of former President Yameen Abdul Qayyoom.

Nasheed has been repeatedly voicing out his concerns regarding the increasing debt of the government, calling out to the government to work on further phasing out the repayment of the loans.

The Finance Minister of Maldives, Ibrahim Ameer informed during a Parliament meeting that the Maldivian debt is estimated to be MVR 82.8 billion at the end 2021. He said that although the government is doing everything they can to speed up the recovery of Maldives’ economy, a side effect of the current attempts at economic management is an increase in debt.

The lates National Debt Report complied by the parliament showed that the national debt of Maldives has added up to a whopping MVR 172 billion.