Maldives United Opposition Calls on the Government of Maldives to Stop the Sale of Feydhoofinolhu and Fushidhiggaru; Reiterates that a MUO Government will Seize any Natural Resources Sold Without due Transparency and Process

02 November 2016 – The Maldives United Opposition calls on the Government of Maldives to immediately halt the sale of Feydhoofinolhu and the Fushidhiggaru lagoon. The Ministry of tourism has re- listed Feydhoofinolhu for sale, and announced the selling of the 1,475 Fushidhiggaru hectares’ lagoon.

In re- listing Feydhoofinolhu, it is unclear whether the Government cancelled the previous Joint Venture announced in 2013, with a Singaporean Company for the development of Feydhoofinolhu as a Special Tourism Zone. What are however, abundantly clear is the lack of transparency, and the lack of clarity over the bidding process. Feydhoofinolhu, one of the only spaces left for locals’ recreational use, and the very lucrative lagoon is being sold without an open bidding process, and without addressing any of the concerns raised by the Anti Corruption Commission in 2013.

The MUO had previously raised concerns over transactions involving the sale and lease of many other islands and lagoons throughout the country, and the allowance of foreign- free holdings on Maldivian land and lagoons. These transactions are taking place on the back of a recent legislative amendment coerced through the Parliament, enacted to facilitate these same underhand dealings. Such opaque moves once again opens up accusations of rampant corruption within the Government, at a time when the Government and especially the President himself stands accused of the country’s largest corruption and money laundering scandal.

The MUO believes that the people of Maldives have a right to be in full knowledge of the details of selling off their natural resources, and such a sale should follow an open and competitive bidding process. Any sales should be conducted with the utmost transparency, offering the people, and the Parliament of the Maldives full knowledge of the proceeds, as well as any future plans for the area and especially what benefits it will bring to the people.

The MUO believes that such sales should also be conducted with a full environmental and social impact consultation, weighing any fiscal gains against environmental and social losses as well as weighing any immediate gains against potential long- term losses for the Maldivian people. Local and international observers have raised concerns over the regime’s improvident environmental policies, and the MUO calls on the Government to ensure that environmental protection and preservation are paramount in any dealings involving the Maldives’ natural resources.

The MUO reiterates, and assures the people of the Maldives, if due process and absolute transparency has not been observed in the transactions, one of the first steps we will take upon return to Government, would be to reclaim (repossess) these islands and lagoons.

“There is a serious risk here that Maldivian resources will be used just to benefit a very few people. We see this as a last ditch to finance an ailing regime, when all else has failed, and the MUO will re- evaluate these sales, and reclaim the resources if international best practices have not been followed,” said MUO Shadow Cabinet Secretary Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.