Former President of Maldives and current Speaker of the parliament Mohamed Nasheed revealed that India's GMR Company had offered to build the Male'- Hulhumale' Bridge for US$ 77 million.
Speaking at the annual conference of India's Think Tank, Nasheed said although GMR Company submitted quotations amounting to US$ 77 million, the previous government assigned the project to China's CCCC company due to which the Maldives is now in debt for US$ 300 million.
Nasheed emphasized the importance of paying back the debt, even if it meant bringing down state expenses, revealing that over US$ 3.4 billion is currently owed to different Chinese companies.
In a bid to pay back the loan efficiently, 15% of the National Budget must be allocated for paying back the loans owed to China effective from next year, said Nasheed.
While it is not just the high interest rates incurred on the loan that the government has to pay back, the project cost was also high, said Nasheed, alleging that the company had sent bills for higher amounts. Therefore the current government is now working on paying back the cost as well as the interest, said Nasheed.
During former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's tenure, the relationship between Maldives and India had suffered due to the government's efforts to strengthen ties with China. A mega project worth over USD500 million which was awarded to India's GMR company during the tenure of former President Mohamed Nasheed to modernize, expand and operate the Maldives’ main international airport in 2010 was terminated by the government of Yameen Abdul Gayyoom shortly after Nasheed's controversial resignation, further damaging Maldives' relationship with India.
However, after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's government began administration, the strained relationship between the two countries has strengthened significantly, with Indian PM Narendra Modi visiting the Maldives last month as his first destination after his landslide victory in the Indian general elections, securing a second term as Prime Minister. Modi also attended President Solih's swearing in ceremony earlier in November, and several agreements have since been signed between both countries.