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Halted housing projects resume after anti-corruption probe

The Hiyaa social housing scheme and sale of plots from Hulhumalé were halted by the ACC.



The Anti-Corruption Commission has authorised the housing ministry to resume the halted Hiyaa social housing scheme and the sale of plots from the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz announced that application forms for the 400 plots will now be available until the end of Sunday.

He called the land reclaimed for Hulhumalé phase two “a shining example” of President Abdulla Yameen’s housing policy.

“It is his legacy. Every grain of sand in that place will always show his legacy,” he said, scolding journalists for “irresponsible” reporting of the anti-corruption probes. 

Muizz announced the sale of the 400 plots last Sunday in defiance of the incoming administration’s call not to sell state assets before the transfer of power on November 17.

The anti-corruption watchdog halted the process after complaints from the president-elect’s representatives.

In a press statement released shortly after Muizz’s press conference, the ACC said it has told the housing ministry to devise and announce criteria to identify Malé residents most in need of housing.

But the housing ministry resumed accepting forms at 4pm in apparent disregard of the ACC instructions.

The 1,000-square feet plots from the capital’s suburb are to be sold for MVR400,000 (US$25,940) each.

Applicants must be married and registered residents of Malé who would not inherit a plot larger than 600-square feet. Payments can be made in instalments over 10 years with an MVR25,000 down-payment to the Housing Development Corporation, the state-owned enterprises tasked with the urban development of Hulhumalé.

Successful applicants would be chosen at a lucky draw next week, Muizz said. All applicants who score 100 points would go into the pot.

Addressing criticism over the comparatively low price, Muizz said the purpose of a social housing scheme was to offer affordable prices.

The price was determined by the cabinet’s Economic and Youth Council chaired by the president after taking into account the HDC’s “cashflow problems” and recovery of investment.

“Hulhumalé is an asset of HDC…The ministry’s role is to select a buyer’s list. We will not sell the land, HDC will sell the land. HDC will receive the payments.”

The company will soon announce bidding for 100 beachfront properties at medium to high-end rates, he added. Bidding will start at MVR2,000 per square feet.

– Hiyaa –

Housing is a hot-button issue in the Maldives, where 39 percent of the country’s 341,256 population lives on the 2.2 square mile island of Malé.

The Hiyaa project was launched by President Yameen in November last year with state-owned enterprises to finance the construction of more than 17,000 flats in Hulhumalé phase two.

After Muizz briefed the press, the ACC said the housing ministry has been instructed to announce details of how points were awarded after applications are evaluated.

The list of flat winners must be finalised after allowing adequate time for complaints and responding to each in writing, the commission said in a statement.

Muizz said the list would be published on Tuesday. Construction of 7,000 flats is expected to be complete by next April, he said.

Some 22,700 forms were submitted by the end of September, he revealed.

As only 299 people applied for 455 flats under the category for doctors and nurses, Muizz said all applicants will be awarded flats.

The remaining flats would be allocated to teachers, 735 of whom applied for 625 flats under their category.

  • 1,799 applied for 500 flats for single mothers and fathers
  • 9,019 applied for 1,000 flats for the 18 to 40 age group
  • 2,795 applied for 1,044 flats for residents of Malé on a special municipality register
  • 4,517 applied for 1,000 flats for registered residents of Malé (50 flats from the doctors and nurses category added to this category)
  • 1,217 applied for 200 flats for people with special needs