Commenting to an older blog of mine, Shahuru said that “there is a misleading [notion] that tourism owners have put [to] us for too long. That resort investments are big and difficult to cover – with ten years of experience- take my word, you don’t need to lease any islands for longer than your healthy age – 20 – 30 maximum. We should not be leaving any portion of land for business use in a way our children cannot change when in need.” Shahuru may be right. Yet the reality is what a friend of mine told me today, as I bumped into him coming out of the IDC Steering Committee at the Atolls Ministry. I am a member and also the Chair of the committee.
My friend who is a well informed tourism expert said that what “the blogger” has said is quite true, yet the decision lay with the People’s Majlis. They would not decide in favor of the people. He pointed out that quite a number of those who were in the parliament claiming to represent the people, had a direct interest in the ownership of resorts. And also the larger majority of the people’s representative (who call themselves “honorable” meaning that they are dignified people) have an interest either by association or employment.
Once the deal is through parliament, they would turn around and transfer the rights of a public property (the land on which the resort is built) to a second party by lease for hefty periods and collect millions of US Dollars in a year. That is the returns they will enjoy after the investment recovery period which is usually five to seven years; when taking a vacation in the Bahamas! And these very people put up a good show for the tv cameras. It’s really like a soap opera (only reality tv in the true sense!) The same people don’t even have to pay a sales tax. An “unhonorable” citizen of this country is required to pay a sales tax if he sells a property that he builds on private or public land.
These are the very people who had the option to share a pinch of their riches with the public they so much adore, by forming a public limited company to own their resort. They would not have to even disclose their personal private riches. Yet they complain about how others have ripped the people off.
I guess there is no better way to stave of people’s negative sentiments towards you. It is, to me, a very well thought out strategy to be proactive and to hit first before the resort owners themselves became a target of the people for the injustice the people face due to a handful of masters. So they strategized!
I am quite conscious of what this government has failed to do for the people. Yet, I would argue that we have a club of resort owners who have also failed in their social responsibility to the nation and the people, whose riches they have used to become the ultra rich they are today.
And they have now hijacked the apex public institution of the people – the People’s Majlis. How strategic!