Maldives pres 'unafraid' to take on more debt for 'development'

Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Sunday insisted that he was not afraid to take on more debt to fund much needed development in the island nation.

Speaking after inaugurating a new harbour in Kaafu Atoll Thulusdhoo, president said the island nation has long been in need for new harbours, drinking water, sewage systems and roads which he said was impossible to provide through the state budget.

"I will take on more debt to fulfill the needs of the people," he said promising more development projects ahead of the presidential elections slated for September.

Maldives' external debt has already passed MVR1 billion - largely down to outside funding president Yameen has secured to fund his quixotic infrastructure projects.

International Monetary Fund's (IMF) has also warned of constraints on the country's reserve over mounting national debt. President Yameen has been a target of intense opposition criticism over mounting national debt.

The president however, hit-back at critics saying that the opposition lack the vision to lead the country.

"They [opposition] always complain about debt. They bemoan how the country would repay the loans. That says a lot about their vision. And shows they're not fit to lead. If they don't have the nous to lead then they shouldn't try to come to power," president Yameen added.

Yameen also urged the country's elderly "who had suffered without for decades without a harbour, water or utilities" to educate the young on the progress made by the country in the past four years of his government.

Referring to the landmark Supreme Court order on February 1 which rocked his government, president said the efforts to thwart the "coup" have delayed several projects he had hoped to complete before the end of his first term.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Yameen on February 5 had declared state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

Yameen's half brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, two Supreme Court judges and several lawmakers have since been arrested and charged with terrorism.

President Yameen said no one had the right to infringe the people's right to elect their leader.