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ICOM orders tourism ministry to release MMPRC lease-hold agreements

Ali Shareef
24 February 2020, MVT 12:39
Information commissioner, Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, orders tourism ministry to release MMPRC lease-hold agreements. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Ali Shareef
24 February 2020, MVT 12:39

Information Commissioner Hussain Fiyaz Moosa on Sunday, ordered the Ministry of Tourism to release information regarding the lease-hold agreements of islands and lagoons leased through the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal.

The ruling was issued at a public hearing held at the Information Commission in relation to the tourism ministry's failure to honour a right to information request lodged by a third party seeking both the lease-hold and sublease-hold agreements of some 51 islands and lagoons leased by the ministry.

The request for information, initially lodged at the tourism ministry on September 17, 2019, was appealed at the Information Commission in January of this year, after the ministry refused to provide the requested information.

During Sunday’s hearing, citing that the requested information contained private information of private parties, representatives from the tourism ministry appealed for another opportunity to respond.

However, quoting the 5-month delay, Information Commissioner Fiyaz denied the appeal and ordered the ministry to provide the requested lease-hold agreements to the third-party at the earliest.

However, for the protection of privacy of individuals concerned, Fiyaz did not order the ministry to release the sublease-hold agreements.

Acknowledging the link between MMPRC leases and the public interest, Fiyaz went on to add that leasehold agreements have previously been disclosed as public information.

According to the Right to Information (RTI) law, requests for access to information must be given as promptly as practically possible, within a duration not exceeding a 21-day period.

Where 45 days have elapsed after a ruling made by the commission, the law empowers the Information Commissioner to submit matters of non-compliance to the Prosecutor General’s Office for prosecution for disobeying a lawfully issued order.

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