Prime Minister Manmohan Singh extends $25 mn credit to Maldives
PM on Thursday asked newly elected Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen to address the problems faced by some Indian investors and “amicably” settle the issue of Male International Airport, a GMR project worth over $500 million scrapped by Maldivian government unilaterally.
Singh also announced, after his comprehensive talks with Yameen on key issues including defence, security and economic cooperation, that a standby credit facility of $25 million was being extended to Maldives for imports from India.
Yameen, who is here on his first foreign visit after assuming office, said India has always been supporting Maldives and it was his “resolve” to maintain the relationship. In an apparent reference to GMR-Male airport matter, the President said, the issues will be resolved in a “broad sense”.
At a joint press event with Yameen, Singh said India and Maldives “share very vital interests” and “Yameen and I agreed that our cooperation is indispensable for the maritime security of our two countries and essential for promoting peace, prosperity and security in the Indian Ocean Region”.
The Prime Minister also said he would like to see a more balanced growth in bilateral trade as increase in Indian investments in Maldives would also contribute to expansion of economic relations.
“In this context, I requested President Yameen to amicably settle the issue of Male International Airport and address the problems that some of our investors are facing,” Singh said.
In 2012, Maldives had cancelled its biggest foreign investment project, a $511 million deal with Indian firm GMR Group to develop its international airport, raising questions over the future of Indian investment in the islands.
Currently the case is under arbitration.
Singh also said, “as part of immediate measures, India is extending a standby credit facility of 25 million US dollars to Maldives for imports from India.
“We have also agreed to meet the requirements of petroleum products in Maldives and have asked our agencies to work out the best possible terms and arrangements.”
The two countries also inked MoUs for cooperation in health sector apart from extending the MoU on Manpower Requirements of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and agreement for allotment of plot to the High Commission of Maldives here.
“As two close neighbours, the development aspirations and security interests of India and Maldives are closely linked… We are also conscious of the need to remain vigilant against terrorism and we share the firm commitment to remain sensitive to each other’s concerns and not allow our territories to be used by any inimical quarters,” the Prime Minister said.
The two also agreed on a number of initiatives to strengthen bilateral defence and security cooperation, including through training, supply of equipment, capacity building, joint patrolling and aerial and maritime surveillance.
“We are also deepening our trilateral maritime security cooperation with Sri Lanka and look forward to expanding it to other countries in the Indian Ocean. India is ready to provide further assistance and support to Maldives in strengthening our collective ability to address our shared security challenges,” the Prime Minister said.
Noting that the bilateral trade was around Rs 700 crores which was overwhelmingly in India’s favour, Singh said they have agreed to liberalise visa regimes, especially for those coming from Maldives for medical treatment.
“We also discussed our cooperation in global and regional forums. As members of SAARC, we agreed to continue to work for a more integrated and connected South Asia. I also expressed our appreciation to President Yameen for his country’s steadfast support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council,” Singh said.