Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) operator GMR has submitted a proposal to the Maldivian government not to take the Airport Development Charge (ADC) from Maldivians.
GMR and the Maldivian government has had conflicting views over the issue after the Civil Court had ruled that such a charge cannot be taken which is not stipulated in the guidelines.
In a statement made by GMR yesterday, the company stated that it had offered two proposals to the Maldivian government after the government had expressed its wish to exclude Maldivian locals from the ADC.
The first offer is to charge USD28 from all departing passengers except Maldivian nationals. The other offer is to charge USD27 from all passengers travelling to any destination outside the SAARC region including Maldivians, while locals travelling within the SAARC region are exempted from ADC.
“Recently the government had stated that it wants to exclude locals from ADC, as most of the Maldivians travelling abroad are for higher studies and medical reasons. To comply with this request GMR has offered two solutions for the issue and we are awaiting a reply from the government. We will accept any of the two ways.” The GMR statement read.
GMR stated that the ADC is to be taken under the concession agreement signed with the government. GMR also said that the right to take ADC was under the opinion of the International Finance Corporation associated with the World Bank which is the advisory board for the bid evaluation process of the Airport lease.
The purpose of it was to create interest in investing to the Airport.
Meanwhile GMR has only paid USD 525,355 of the total USD8.7 million owed to the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) for the first three months of the current year.
GMR stated that the concession agreement with the government allows ADC to be taken and if it cannot be charged, the government must compensate for the loss.
Attorney General (AG) Aishath Azima Shakoor said that she had proposed to GMR to exclude Maldivian locals from ADC and that a regulation should be passed before ADC can be taken from tourists using the airport.
The AG further revealed that GMR had deducted the amount as the MACL had agreed to the omission which had been sanctioned by the Finance Ministry during the previous administration.
However, following the ruling by the Court that had nullified the MACL order, Azima said that she did not believe that GMR can withhold the USD27 from the amount payable to the government.
GMR stated that the USD35 million (MVR 500 million) paid last year is 3 times the amount that the government gained from the airport before privatization.
“Which means the total amount owed to the government for the 25 year concession period will be more than USD2 billion. This is a huge amount for the Maldivian economy.” GMR stated.
Azima said that if the ADC is to be taken from tourists and others leaving the country, it needs to be discussed to see the effects which it may have on the tourism industry.
Haveeru has learned that GMR had agreed with the government, to delay the process of charging ADC until the parliament approves a regulation for the process.