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Former President and Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has made another controversial statement alleging that the Social Housing Projects built during the previous administration is a debt trap. The former President took it to twitter alleging that the apartments built under this projects were only 500 sqft and that the cost of construction was inflated to MVR1900 per sqft. He also criticized stating that a rent of MVR 11,000 was too high for such a small apartment unit.

These allegations however contradict to that of the information provided by the Chinese Ambassador to Maldives HE. Zhang Lizhong, who contacted the Chinese engineering giant CSCEC for clarification. According to the contractor, the apartment units would be 720.16 sqft and that the cost of construction was  MVR1450 per sqft. Additionally, according to a letter from the President’s Office to then Housing Minister Dr Mohammed Muiz, the rent allocated for these social housing units was MVR5,600.

Former President Nasheed continued on to allege that the Chinese authorities had dealt a bad hand to the Maldivian government and that the cost of construction for the  7000 housing units should have been MVR900 per sqft. He went on to question how the price rose from MVR900 per sqft to MVR1900 per sqft and whether the Chinese intend to push the Maldivian government into a debt trap after which  the Chinese authorities can control the island nation. Former President Nasheed closed his tweets drawing comparison to Sri Lanka and some African nations which he alleged had suffered a similar predicament.

Tonight’s’ allegations of Chinese debt trap from former President Nasheed has sparked controversy amongst the social media users with many noting a similar batch of accusations made late last year which were clarified by the Chinese Ambassador. Amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, public outrage has been directed at the current administration and the parliament for failure to provide affordable housing to the public and to the ruling party’s rejection of a “rent moratorium and COVID aid bill” by the opposition alliance.

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