Azima Shukoor: We terminated the pact with GMR on the grounds of void ab initio

Maldivian Attorney General Azima Shukoor has said the Maldives government could opt to seek compensation from infrastructure group GMR after it decided to void the India-based company’s concession agreement to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), a local English language website, Minivan News, said.

“We terminated the agreement on the grounds of void ab initio [void from the outset], therefore we will begin the negotiation on the position that the government of Maldives does not require to pay back anything,” Ms. Shukoor was quoted as having said.

The website, which cited local media reports, said that at her press conference on Monday, the AG said that the contract was void from the beginning. “She added that the government therefore intended to seek compensation for damages it “might” have incurred during the process of entering into the contract with GMR, local newspaper Haveeru reported,” Minivan News said.

The Hindu had posed this question — that if the Maldives government held that the contract was void from the beginning, did it mean that it will argue that it does not need to pay compensation — to President Mohamed Waheed. Dr. Waheed replied that this was up to the arbitration to decide.

GMR seeking $800-million

GMR is seeking $800 million compensation after the new Maldivian government threw it out of the airport project on December 7. GMR was awarded the contract — after an open international bidding — by the Nasheed government in 2010.

At Monday’s press conference, the AG maintained the government’s stand that the agreement with GMR to develop INIA was illegal.

Asked about the AG’s assertions, the acting Transport Minister, Mohamed Nazim told The Hindu over phone that he had just come back to Male and had not seen her statement.

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