English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Maldives allows visa-free access to Indian businessmen, moves pro-India bill

India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Photo: ANI)

The Maldivian government has announced that it will provide visa-free access to Indians who arrive in the country for business purposes. The visa will be applicable for 90 days.

With the new rule, Maldives has implemented the 'Facilitation of Visa Arrangements' pact signed between India and the Maldives on December 17, 2018. Maldivian nationals too will receive similar benefits under the arrangement.

A statement by the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said any Indian national with an approved business visa is eligible to renew the visa up to 180 days within a calendar year. This is in addition to the visa-free period of 90 days stipulated in the bilateral agreement.

Indians will have to apply for a business visa through the official portal of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Bilateral relations between India and Maldives have surged under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Prime minister Narendra Modi. Solih, along with former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed have weaned the country from being a China supporter to improving relations with the South Asian neighbour. Nasheed is currently the Speaker of the Maldivian parliament.

Separately, the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has framed a bill to stop opposition leader and former president Abdullah Yamin from carrying on with the 'India Out' campaign. Yamin, who ran the country before the MDP came into power, was close to China and had taken large infrastructure loans till he was ousted in the 2018 elections.

Maldivian website, The Edition reports that Speaker Nasheed has submitted the bill to the National Security Committee (NSC) for review. The ruling party is concerned that the 'India Out' campaign can damage the country's relations with India. The NSC is investigating the campaign and will report its findings to the government.

Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed reportedly told the NSC that millions of dollars have been spent in the anti-India campaign by individuals involved in the sale of illicit narcotics. The campaign led by the opposition is opposed to Indian projects and improved relations with India by the current regime.

The proposed bill seeks to levy fines and impose prison sentences for activities that damage relations between Maldives and other countries including India. The opposition parties have, however, condemned the bill.