The government aims to extend the lease period for uninhabited islands from the current ten years to 25 years in a move aimed at bolstering local economies, President Mohamed Muizzu has announced. This announcement was made during his tour of the Raa and Baa atolls.

Speaking with the community of Meedhoo Island, Raa Atoll, President Muizzu underscored that this extension would allow local councils to make more substantial, long-term investments in these islands. He further hinted at a potential future extension of the lease period to an unprecedented 50 years.

Under the existing guidelines, local councils can lease an uninhabited island to conduct economic activities. The President emphasised that any local council could request to lease an uninhabited island from any location.

The initial list of islands available for lease has been deliberately limited to mitigate potential risks, he said. “Initially, we have officially listed a select number of uninhabited islands for lease. We aim to mitigate any risk by refraining from leasing an uninhabited island that the previous administration has transferred to another entity, an uninhabited island under litigation, or one allocated to a ministry,” explained President Muizzu.

Despite the initial list containing only 25 uninhabited islands, the government has plans to expand the list to accommodate all local councils shortly, President Muizzu added. The overarching aim is to ensure all local councils have the opportunity to conduct economic activities to increase their income.

The guideline, published in the Government Gazette on 17 February, puts up for lease 25 uninhabited islands for local councils. These islands can be used for research and economic activities and will be leased to local councils after vetting proposals.