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MP Yaugoob commends committee decision on seaplane terminal

Mariyam Malsa
18 February 2020, MVT 22:25
Dhaandhoo MP Yauqoob Abdulla. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
18 February 2020, MVT 22:25

Dhaandhoo MP Yauqoob Abdulla, on Tuesday, stated that efforts by a certain group of individuals to award management of the seaplane terminal to Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) was successfully derailed.

The comment was made in reference to the decision reached by the parliament's Public Finance Committee to grant TMA a 6,300 square metre plot for two years at a rate of USD 10.53 per square foot.

Management of the terminal, developed at Velana International Airport (VIA), by Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) will be granted to the company following the two-year period. Terminal lounges will then be leased out with consideration to market prices.

The Public Finance Committee's decision over the issue submitted by MP Yauqoob after MACL's intentions to handover the entire terminal to TMA surfaced, was made in accordance with the proposal by the Ministry of Finance.

The controversial deal between TMA and MACL entailed handing over 19,000 square metres of the terminal to the latter for a 15-year period for a figure well below the market rate.

Despite expressing approval towards the Public Finance Committee's decision, MP Yaugoob abstained from the vote taken over the matter.

Speaking to local media outlet Mihaaru, MP Yaugoob expressed that he considered the Public Finance Committee's decision a 'win' and clarified that his abstinence from the vote was due to his mistrust of the MACL board.

The parliamentarian elaborated that he did not trust MACL's board or the management to carry out the finance ministry’s directive, claiming that MACL had provided false information at the parliament committee meeting held on Monday.

According to the audit conducted as per instructions from the parliamentary committee, the controversial deal would have resulted in an annual loss of MVR 41 million to the state.

Despite this, Yaugoob added that the government only took a 'solid stance' on the seaplane deal after the Public Finance Committee launched an extensive investigation.

Yauqoob first raised concern over MACL granting exclusive operation rights of the seaplane terminal to TMA in August 2019. He previously declared that, should the terminal handover proceed at a disadvantage to the state, he "would not hesitate" to hold those responsible "accountable for their decision".