President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday officially declared that the government’s plan for Faafu atoll is not to sell off its lands contrary to recent rumours, but to bring a mega development project of USD 10 billion to the atoll.
He made the announcement at a ceremony held in Dharubaaruge convention centre in capital Male held to present the membership forms of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s newest members from Gaafu Alif atoll to the president.
“The project coming to [Faafu] atoll amounts to thousands of millions of dollars,” announced the president as he disclosed details of the rumoured venture for the first time. “As I recall, one of the estimates reached during our negotiations was ten thousand million dollars or USD 10 billion.”
President Yameen proclaimed that the plans in store for the atoll is the largest development project to ever be set in motion in the Maldives. He stated that if done right, it will propel the island nation to the top of the world chart which is “not an unachievable feat.”
He countered the rumours and allegations surrounding the mega project of Faafu atoll, stating that the secrecy surrounding the project is not a cause for concern as details can only rightly be released after discussions have ended.
The president also vowed that Faafu atoll’s development will bring “unimaginable” benefit not only to residents of the atoll but to all Maldivians.
“This project involves several ventures including international water sports, mixed development, residential and high class development, and several tourist resorts and airports,” disclosed President Yameen.
Noting that discussions are underway regarding the revenue the project is expected to bring to the government, President Yameen assured that full details will be revealed to the public as soon as the required agreements have been signed.
Nodding to the allegations raised by the opposition and public, the president went on to explain that the government is withholding information before all aspects of the project have been finalised since the state does not want “to put off investors with arguments between [the government and opposition].”
“This project is certainly not one I’m going to lock in a suitcase and take home with me when I step down,” he added as he declared that his government will not hide its mega development projects from the people unlike previous administrations.
The president also assured that the Faafu atoll project will be conducted in accordance with the law, and that lands will be awarded under regulations that protect the sovereignty and independence of the Maldives.
Stressing the importance of identifying and implementing the utilisation of a nation’s lands to its best value, he slammed the opposition’s criticism, pointing out that they had similarly received the opportunity to develop the Maldives’ islands during their administration but had accomplished little.
President Yameen also highlighted that the Maldives draws the interest of numerous foreign investors. Declaring that criticism and censure are warranted only in cases of misappropriation and unlawful dealings, he urged everyone to support the government’s development projects.
The president finally highlighted that he has successfully achieved his electoral pledge to double government revenue from USD 4,000 per head to USD 8,000 within three years. He stated that slow and steady development and progress are necessary to increase that amount further, eyeing a target of USD 10,000 – 12,000 per head.