New Delhi, Nov. 29: The Maldives immigration department has decided to cancel the work permit and visas of the employees of GMR Group within a week.
The move comes after Maldives decided to terminate the agreement signed in June 2010 to lease the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male to GMR for 25 years. The signitories to the 2010 pact were, GMR-MAHB Consortium, Maldives Airports Company Limited and the Maldives government.
The country has given the consortium seven days to hand over GMR Male International Airport to Maldives Airports Company Ltd.
The deal with the GMR was signed under former president Mohamed Nasheed’s administration, following a competitive bidding process under the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. The project was implemented through a joint venture company between GMR Infrastructure Limited and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB).
GMR Group officials have described this order as “illegitimate” and said the company would not leave the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.
The infrastructure major, with its headquarters in Bangalore, said it wanted to continue operations in Maldives despite the island nation’s decision to cancel the $519 million deal.
“We are fairly confident that we will seek and get legal remedy,” Arun Bhagat, executive vice-president and group head (corporate communications) at GMR Group, said.
“We had signed a contract for 25 years. We have another 23 years to stay here. We are bringing the largest FDI to this country and there is no reason why we should not stay on.”
He said the company had received the termination letter from the Maldives government but would seek a stay order against the notice.
GMR is set to appeal against the cancellation of the contract in the Singapore high court. A GMR team is in Singapore, and the legal process can begin in the next seven days.
At present, a legal arbitration over an airport development charge and insurance surcharge is going on in the Singapore high court.
On the contract termination, GMR said it was in complete disregard of the arbitration proceedings.
“The arbitration in Singapore is at the tribunal stage. However, that is another matter. Obviously, we have got to rely on what our lawyers advise us. Whether they seek to go to the same tribunal or they seek remedy elsewhere. But I am sure there is a seven-day window which is good enough and we would come out on top,” said Bhagat.