The Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has described the 7000 Hiyaa social housing units in Hulhumale’ as a debt trap.
Nasheed tweeted today that the flats built under the administration of MDP would be free of such debt. His tweet carried a photo of the flats in Hulhumale’. Nasheed also said that the flats were built as 500 feet “small pigeon cages”. Each foot accounted up to MVR 1900 with a total rent payment of MVR 11,000, according to Nasheed.
“So how can ends be met? This is a photo of the debt trap.” Said Nasheed.
He said that most of the other such locations other than the Hiyaa project were part MDP manifesto which are spacious and will have an adequate price.
“There will be no massive debt.” Said Nasheed.
He said that the debt from the Hiyaa project will be paid by this administration which will also carry out other spacious housing projects.
Nasheed also pointed the finger of blame towards China once again when he accused that China has a policy of dumping countries of this region into debt with huge loans.
“The government will meet ends. However, where is the difference when a project that in reality has a price of MVR 900 per foot is done for MVR 1900? Will the Chinese company repurchase it after raising the price to a level where ends don’t meet? It happened to countries in Africa and Sri Lanka.” Said Nasheed.
The statement follows similar ones made previously by the Speaker regarding debt traps of China. Chinese ambassador in the Maldives Mr. Zhang Lizhong had responded back then by saying that China was not a country to induce debt traps but were merely providers of assistance.
The ambassador noted that China was the biggest market of tourists in to the Maldives and said that the country was a partner in the development of Maldives. Ambassador Lizhong also said that the statements of Speaker Nasheed were nothing more than a misconception.
The Hiyaa project in Hulhumale’ was carried out by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and saw sixteen towers of 25-floors constructed in phase two of Hulhumale’. The structural changes by the current administration saw the price of a unit from the buildings reduced to MVR 6800.
The project was initially started by the previous administration of President Yameen. Former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu had stated back then the monthly price of each unit would be MVR 5600, as was decided by the-then President Yameen.
However, Housing Development Corporation later said that an additional USD 42 million spent on the project had raised the total price of each unit to MVR 11,000 – an increase of 96.4 percent.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, after coming to power, said that the government was working to reduce the price by introducing subsidies. After almost two years to the administration, the Hiyaa project flats have still not been handed over.
HDC recently said that the project would be fully completed by the end of this year.