Friday, December 7, 2012

Maldives can take back airport from GMR, says Singapore court

MALE, December 7, 2012

In a serious setback to Indian strategic interests in Maldives, and to India's image in the region, the Indian multinational company, GMR, which is operating the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport here for over two years, will exit Maldives on Friday.

On Thursday, the Singapore Court of Appeal held that Maldives had the right to annul a contract it had signed with GMR, barely a day before the government-set deadline to throw out the airport operator expired. "The Maldives government has the power to do what it wants, including expropriating the airport," Sundaresh Menon, the Chief Justice of Singapore, said in court, according to Reuters.

The Defence Minister, Mohamed Nazim, who is also the acting Transport Minister, met GMR representatives soon after the Court decision to work out modalities for the transfer of the airport to the Maldives Airport Company Limited [MACL]. "An overseeing committee has been constituted. This will meet at 10 am on Friday to discuss all outstanding issues," said Masood Imad, Media Secretary to President Mohamed Waheed.

The Maldivian Government representatives who spoke to The Hindu insisted that the whole issue was a "company-to-company" affair [GMR and MACL] and had nothing to do with governments of both countries. "The cost of the India – Maldives relationship is not $ 600 million or whatever this project costs," Mr. Imad said.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed urged the government to re-think the move. "The government must pull back from the brink and cease its counter-productive behaviour, which is damaging the nation's economy and bilateral relations," Mr. Nasheed warned.
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