Maldives Promotion House – Some of the most well known Maldivian hoteliers and prominent figures of the hospitality industry recently voiced their support for the Fiscal and Economic Reforms Programme proposed by the president.
President Mohamed Nasheed presented the reform programme at a ceremony held recently. According to the government, the new taxing system will increase government income and remodel the business environment to better fit the modern standards.
Maldives Association of Tourism Industries (MATI) showed support from among all private associations, though MATI’s prior opposition to the introduction of a taxation system. While the ceremony was attended by prominent businessmen from various fields and industries, the government noted and duly thanked MATI for its support.
President of MATI, Mohamed Umar Manik said that the government is well aware of current needs of the people which can only be fulfilled by increasing the income.
“The reform programme details the sources that the government plans to earn an income from. The way I see it, it’s an ideal reform programme,” Chairman of Universal Group and MATI President, Manik said.
Hussain Hilmy, the Director of Sunland Travels, spoke at the ceremony saying that, “when a tax system is introduced, it has to be assured that the Maldives will remain a competitive player in the global market”.
“Maldives can only remain a competitive player in the global market if the tax system is stable and transparent. If the country is to develop the business environment needs to be fashioned to be more receptive to foreign investment and capital.”
Hilmy also noted the importance of a well managed and administered taxation system. “Distinguished President, we wish to see the tax paid by the tourism sector invested to improve the living standards of our people as transparently as possible. And we in the tourism industry completely support your efforts in reducing national expenditure,” he said.
Mohamed Waheeduddin, owner of Bandos Island Resort, also spoke at the ceremony and said that tax should be paid by businesses that utilise public land and resources to function.
“How can I say that Bandos belongs to me? It’s not mine. The island belongs to the Maldivian people. Taxes need to be levied because we are using the people’s resources to run our businesses,” he said.
Waheeduddin expressed his support for the government’s efforts to strengthen democracy in the country and the economic reform agenda. He also assured his full assistance to the government in every possible way.
“As an individual belonging to the private sector I fully support the government’s reform programme and I’m sure my counterpart Mohamed Umar Manik will agree with everything I’ve said,” he said.
Waheeduddin noted that the state had not been earning the maximum amount attainable from the tourism industry. “Taxation should have been introduced 25-40 years ago,” he added.
Ibrahim Mohamed, Secretary General of MATI also supported the idea and took the initiative to pay tax to the government. “People always point out how vocal MATI had been about taxation, but it is quite likely to happen if we were to pay taxes more than we earned an income. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t support taxation. In fact MATI was the first organisation to start talks on taxation with the government,” he said.
Mohamed called on the government to use the income earned in taxes in a responsible manner. “Tax basically means a payment paid by the people to the government for the government to invest in services for them. So a huge responsibility is attached to it,” he said.