The Ministry of Tourism has waived off MVR 4 billion from resort rental fines owing to an amendment to the tourism regulation.
Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom said the waiver was a result of restructuring tourist resort rental fines.
The minister disclosed that the properties eligible for the waiver were those in the under-construction and non-operational resort category. Minister Mausoom further said that the waiver exclusively pertains to rental fines.
"We have written-off the restructured portion. You can say it is a waiver. But this would enhance the people [resort owners] to proceed ahead without hindrances, and if they fail to comply then I am certain we can take the necessary steps," Dr. Mausoom said.
"A charge of 0.5 percent per day in fines is a hefty sum. Several resorts have stalled development owing to failure in settling this fine. We are creating a path for them to move forward."
Resort rental fine was first trimmed from 0.5 percent per day to 0.0493 percent following the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) said it was informed of the waiver by the ministry last month.
With the amendment, the resort owners are required to pay the rental fines at 0.0493 percent per day instead of 0.5 percent.
However, the minister did not specify the number of tourist resorts eligible for the waiver, nor the owners of these resorts. Reports suggest that there are currently more than 100 tourist resorts that remain without ongoing development work.
The latest update from MIRA indicate an outstanding MVR 13.4 billion in resort rent fines, with another outstanding MVR 3.4 billion in resort rent.
The minister said that the waiver does not extend to currently operational properties.
"The fines extend to resorts under construction and those in the development phase," Dr. Mausoom said.
While the regulation amendment has enhanced a waiver on rental fines, the ministry submitted a bill to amend the tourism act to reduce the resort lease rates as well, which however was dismissed.