Hiyaa project awarded to party that proposed highest price: Minister

Minister of Planning and Housing, Mohamed Aslam has stated that the Hiyaa housing project initiated by the former government had awarded the construction of the flats to the party that quoted the highest price.

The minister was summoned to the parliament’s heritage committee to be questioned regarding the controversial housing project, along with former housing minister, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. During Thursday’s session, the minister shared some information regarding the project citing relevant documents available at the President’s Office.

Minister Aslam said six companies had expressed interest in the project and submitted proposals. The price per housing unit proposed by China’s CSEC was US$ 62,000 while the remaining five parties proposed a price of US$ 52,000 per flat.

The planning minister pointed out that the prices of the Hiyaa flats were inflated compared to market rates, and noted that the size of the flats at 572 square feet did not meet the generic minimum area requirements of social housing.

The minister added that the project agreement for the project was established with the housing ministry, but was later changed to Housing Development Corporation, HDC. Since then, the only work done on the project by the ministry was processing flat applications and compiling a list of qualified recipients.

Based on the information provided by the minister, the former housing minister during President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s regime was quizzed by the committee members. The committee inquired regarding the reason for the high prices and asked him to explain the reasoning behind changing the project to HDC’s mandate instead of the ministry,

In his response, Dr. Muizzu said the ministry plays no role in the implementation of the project, and that the project was managed by HDC. A committee was established at the President’s Office regarding the project, and he had not been part of the said committee, said Muizzu.

Regarding the high prices of the flats, the former minister said the project cost increased due to changes brought to the towers’ structural design to further improve its standard and quality. The government paid extra attention to implement high standard features at the buildings, including high speed elevators.

Muizzu did not deny that the project was awarded to the party that had proposed the highest price. However, Muizzu noted that the price per flat would be lower, and suggested that the numbers being published by the current government were manipulated.

The current government has alleged that the Hiyaa project is tainted with corruption, A special committee was established at the President’s Office to ensure that the flats were awarded to the most deserving applicants. The committee has stated that the list of recipients will be published in August. The government believes the flats will be ready for occupancy in eight months or so, it had previously announced.