Armed with an injunctive relief from the Singapore High Court on vacating the Male airport, infrastructure major GMR has made it clear that they will not vacate by Friday night — the deadline given by the Maldives government.
“We did not enter into Maldives for compensation. We have made several request to Government of Maldives for discussion on the issue but have not heard from them yet. However, we have been assured that no force will be used against us in vacating the airport and we hope to achieve an amicable solution soon,” said Sidharath Kapur CFO, GMR Airports.
Kapur also said that the Indian government has assured them full support on the issue without clarifying it further.
“We are thankful for India’s support to us since the beginning of the crisis and hope New Delhi will take everything possible from their armoury to ensure that something amicable comes out,” said Kapur.
The Maldivian government had on December 1 scrapped a 25-year-contract of the GMR Group to operate the international airport in Male and gave it a seven-day notice to vacate operations. The $500 million project was awarded during the regime of Mohamed Nasheed in 2010.
The project ran into trouble after Nasheed’s exit in February, with the new government alleging that its predecessor had favoured GMR by allowing it to levy a development fee of $27 per passenger and later allowing it to offset from the revenues of the government as the civil court had disallowed the levy. As a result, Maldives has to pay GMR $3.5 million for the current year.
After the termination order, GMR moved the Singapore High Court, which granted an injunction barring, but the Maldivian government refused to accept the order saying the court could not give injunction to a sovereign nation.
In the case of a forced exit, GMR is eligible for compensation, which it has not yet calculated. But media reports quoting the Attorney General of Maldives say it could be as high as $700 million. The GDP of the country is in the range of $2 billion and the size of its budget is around $1 billion.