The Ministry of Tourism has publicized a list of islands currently leased for development as either tourist resorts or training facilities.
The ministry announced this in a statement, in which it also revealed that it will be enforcing a ban on ‘single use plastic’ in its offices, on Tuesday.
Ministry’s press release (PR)88-ADHR/88/2018/22 on;— Ministry of Tourism (@TourismMv) November 27, 2018
1. Publishing all tourist facilities under development (Islands, Land Plots and Lagoons)
2. Banning “single use plastic” at workplace from 1st December 2018https://t.co/91ENiSHHqP pic.twitter.com/ABUTHjXCoL
According to the list, there are a total 132 islands under development into tourist outlets. Lessees include state enterprises as well private sector companies.
Publicizing this list is an unprecedented move towards transparency in the tourism industry, which has mostly remained obscure to citizens not involved in the sector.
This undoubtedly favours the current government, as outgoing President Abdulla Yameen’s administration was marred with allegations of embezzlement through resort leases.
An audit report in 2016 revealed that an astounding MVR 1.2 billion was embezzled through the state-run Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a scheme in which both jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb and President Yameen were implicated, though the latter denies any involvement or knowledge.
An investigate report published by the Organized Crime Corruption Reporting Project this year also implicates Yameen in a scheme to lease up to 50 islands to tourism developers, at ‘hugely discounted prices without public tender'.
OCCRP's investigation, based on internal tourism ministry documents and leaks including from Yameen's former right-hand man Ahmed Adeeb's phones, showed that the president intervened to help clear 'at least 24 deals' to lease said properties.
President Solih has commissioned a body to investigate these allegations and recover any ‘stolen or misappropriated’ assets.