Maldives opposition reveals plan for 'i-Havan'

An opposition government would develop northernmost Ihavandhippolhu atoll of the Maldives, opposition alliance president candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced Wednesday.

The region remains a key pledge for President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom who had announced plans to develop it as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under a project dubbed 'i-Havan'.

The i-Havan integrated project will include the development of harbors and ports, the cargo storage areas, an international cruise facility, airport, as well as residential and commercial real estate.

i-Havan was one of the biggest projects announced by the President.

The government had formed a special law to kick off the SEZ initiative, with the minimum amount set at USD150 million. The Government had also initiated laws on insurance and banking services within the SEZ framework. The laws say that insurance service providers can begin services, with a reserve of MVR 10 million and MVR 60 million for banking services.

However, the project had failed to get off the ground and ahead of the upcoming presidential elections later this month, Solih while speaking during a campaign rally in Haa Alif Atoll Hoarafushi island noted the geographical significance of the Atoll to the Maldives and would look to develop with foreign aid.

"An opposition government has a plan. We will develop it under an integrated plan. We are already how to get the best out of a transshipment harbour and tourism from that region," the veteran lawmaker explained.