India to take up GMR issue with Maldives

Government proposes to monitor the situation in Maldives closely

Published - November 28, 2012 01:28 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The government reacted strongly to the decision of the Maldives government to terminate the agreement with the GMR Group by promising to pursue the issue with Male as it thought politics had intruded into what was a purely commercial matter.

Even as several political parties opposed to ousted Maldivian President Mohd. Nasheed, during whose tenure GMR won the airport management contract, have been calling for its cancellation for quite some time, New Delhi pinned its hopes on elections slated towards the middle of next year to cool tempers.

The cancellation of the contract, the single biggest in Maldives for one of the fastest growing airport in the region, appeared to have left the government with no option but to react sharply.

The Maldivian Foreign Minister’s recent visit a few days ago, ostensibly for medical treatment, had failed to resolve the issue of many in the government seeking the cancellation of the contract. Vigorous reasoning by ousted President Nasheed’s Maldivian Democractic Party stalwarts such as Zaki too could not avert the cancellation.

While promising to remain engaged with the government of Maldives on this issue, Foreign Office spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said New Delhi expected Male to “ fulfil all legal processes and requirements in accordance with the relevant contracts and agreement it has concluded with GMR in this regard.”

Pointing out that investment by GMR-Malaysian Airports joint venture was the single largest foreign direct investment in the history of Maldives, Mr. Akbaruddin felt the unilateral termination of the contract with GMR would send a very negative signal to foreign investors and the international community.

He also noted the contract to manage the Male International Airport was finalised after a global tender vetted by a World Bank affiliate which had said the process complied with Maldivian laws and regulations.

The Foreign Office said the government proposes to monitor the situation in Maldives closely and is prepared to take “all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of its interests and its nationals in the Maldives.”

Meanwhile, the company said it would keep the airport running and regretted that the decision was taken. Arbitration proceedings were on in Singapore. We are therefore taking all measures to ensure the safety of our employees and safeguard our assets. We are confident that the stand of the company will be vindicated in every way,” said a company statement.

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