The family business of Ali Shiyam, Minister at the President’s Office, has topped Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) rent dodger list.
MIRA on Tuesday published a list of companies and individuals who had failed to pay taxes to the state, under the non-tax category.
As such, the agency named 12 parties who had failed to pay tourism land rent and four parties that had failed to pay farm land rent. The period in question was up to end of 2021.
Out of the 12 parties failing to pay tourism land rent, Filitheyo Island Resort, Medhufushi Island Resort, and Hondaidhoo Island resort listed. Filitheyo is owned by 3A and Trading Company. Medhufushi Island Resort is managed by Medhufushi Investment. The two properties fall under the Minister Shiyam’s family, while Hondaidhoo Island Resort is owned by Minister Shiyam’s father.
A previous investigation by TMJ showed that the company owed around MVR 405 million (US$ 26.3 million) in taxes, rents, and penalties. MIRA had also raided their corporate offices on suspicions that the company was evading taxes.
While Minister Shiyam is an influential figure in ruling MDP, he is also closely linked to the president himself. He is married to a family friend of First Lady Fazna.
- Other properties listed by MIRA as rent dodgers
- - Brennia Kottefaru
- - Rahaa Resort
- - Kihaa Maldives
- - Eriyadu Island Resort
- - JW Marriot Maldives Resort and Spa
- - Coco Palm Dhunikolhu
- - Biyaadoo Island Resort
- - Makunudu Island Resort
- - Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat
MIRA estimated in 2020 that there was over MVR 16 billion (US$ 1.04 billion) in rents due and penalties from late payments. Finance Ministry had deemed that this amount would never be recovered to the state. The Ministry had also sought out changes to penalty amounts and backdated the period. Due to this, the state lost even more income.
In spite of heavy losses to state coffers, the Government is attempting to further reduce tourism land rents. Central Bank Governor had argued against the motion. However, Tourism Minister Dr Abdullah Mausoom had gleefully championed this, citing that tax breaks would free up money for investors to invest more.
The administration champions trickle-down economics, and it works in theory. However, multiple economists and social researchers have argued against this, citing that business owners were more likely to pocket the tax break rather than investing back to the community or their own staff.
As such, if this motion passes, the state stands to lose over half a billion annually.