India is expected to unfreeze the remaining part of the loan to Male once the new Maldives president Abdulla Yameen arrives in New Delhi next month on his maiden overseas trip as head of the state.
President Yameen, half brother of former dictator Maumoon Gayoom, will be arriving on December 22 for a short visit, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and meet with entire gamut of Indian leadership. He will also be the chief guest at the convocation of South Asian university on December 24.
India had first offered a standby credit facility of $100 million during former president Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure in November 2011. But, this loan was given in instalments, with the third tranche approved by Cabinet in September 2012.
But, New Delhi did not release the amount as it was annoyed with the successive Mohamed Waheed government for supporting the campaign to oust the GMR group from developing the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male.
India’s concerns came true, when the government unilaterally cancelled the contract in the last week of November. Since then, the last tranche has been kept pending.Sources said that the announcement of unfreezing will likely be made during Yameen’s visit.
Maldives is going through severe financial crunch, as it is unable to cover the government expenditure and pay for essential services like fuel and electricity.
As per the local newspapers Minivan News, the Maldives central bank has warned that the country was on the brink of printing money, with state debt reaching $1.9 billion.Earlier last week, the Chinese ambassador met with the Maldives president and pledged a grant-in-aid of $8.2 million.
Yameen won the run-off elections on November 17, defeating Mohamed Nasheed of Maldivian Democratic Party who had won more votes in the first round. He won the presidency by managing to get the support of Gasim Ibrahim, who had got the third highest number of votes on November 9.
In his reply to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s congratulations, Yameen said that relations with India was a priority for him.