'More airports lead to more wealth' - Ex pres Yameen

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom has stated that the construction of multiple airports may seem like a naive move to some, although its establishment is vital for Maldivian tourism.

The former president's remark came amid criticism from former president and current Speaker of the parliament Mohamed Nasheed, who described the construction of multiple airports as unimportant and not beneficial for the country's development. Nasheed was referring to the construction of airports at Hoarafushi and Kulhudhuffushi during Yameen's tenure. Nasheed said real development is self-development and progress.

Responding indirectly to Nasheed's statement at a rally held by the opposition on Thursday night, Yameen said his government had done a lot of work for the economic development of the country, namely the tourism industry. While efforts were undertaken to expand tourism across Maldives, more airports were built to support the expansion, said Yameen. Referring vaguely to Nasheed's comment, Yameen said the building of airports would bring wealth to the people.

While the development projects that were being implemented have now come to a halt, the current administration keeps assuring that new projects are 'coming'. The current government takes credit for, and celebrates the completion of project implemented by the previous government, said Yameen.

"There must be some projects that they are achieving? A resort [being opened] every 15 days, an airport [being opened] every 18 days. When the crow makes the nest, the kovel lays its eggs in the nest - This is what they are doing", he said.

President Yameen said while the MVR 30 billion budget allocated for the year has already been utilized for unknown purposes, over US$ 700 million in the state reserve has also been 'wiped clean'.

Yameen said while the condition of the pension fund is unknown, funds in all departments have disappeared, said Yameen.

Referring to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih' ratification of the amendment to tax laws that brings significant changes to the structure of tax agency MIRA's board, Yameen said the ruling government wishes to have a political appointee on MIRA's board.

The Tax Administration Act stipulates that MIRA governing board comprises of seven members, to which the president appoints five members, Finance Minister appoints one member and includes the Commissioner General of Taxation

Preident Yameen, who suffered defeat in the 2018 presidential elections said the current government has failed to achieve anything while an year has passed since the new government began administration. Stating that the country has falled into a calamity, Yameen said a single year of misery feels like three long years.