Maldives government imposes 'informal ban' on work permits to Indians

Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency on February 5, amid a standoff between the president and the Supreme Court. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Malé, Maldives Jun 14, 2018, 04.30 PM (IST) Siddhant Sibal

In a development that can further deteriorate the already fractured relationship between India and  Maldives, Male has imposed an informal ban on work permits to Indians. 

The ban was imposed three months ago.

The ban came to came to light when Alexander Blair, General manager of the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort on LinkedIn asked for Indians Chef but not with Indian passport.

"The Maldives finest address has an opportunity for an outstanding Indian speciality chef. Unfortunately, with the current situation that work permits are not being granted to Indian Nationals, we are ideally searching for an Indian who is holding another passport or is the spouse of a Maldivian," he wrote on LinkedIn. 

Several Indians are expected to be impacted by this informal ban. Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives with an approximate strength of around 22,000. Indian expatriate community consists of workers as well as professionals like doctors, teachers, accountants, managers, engineers, nurses and technicians etcetera spread over several islands. Of the country’s approximately 400 doctors, over 125 are Indians. Similarly, around 25 per cent of teachers in the Maldives are Indians, mostly at middle and senior levels.

The Maldives has been a preferred destination for Indian tourists while India has been a preferred destination for Maldivians for education, medical treatment, recreation and business. The number of Maldivians seeking a long-term visa for pursuing higher studies/medical treatment in India has shown a sharp increase over the last two years. Recently, Maldives asked India to take back 2 of its military helicopters which were gifted by New Delhi.

But ties at the political level has deteriorated. Especially after President Yameen dismissed the February 1 order which called for freeing the opposition leaders and quashing the case against former president Mohamed Nasheed. Instead, Chief justice of Supreme court and former President Gayoom has been sentenced. India has reacted sharply to this latest development. 

New Delhi said that its deep dismay by the sentence handed over to former President of the Maldives as well as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court without a fair trial. India said that it casts doubt on the commitment of the Government of the Maldives to uphold the rule of law and will also call into question the credibility of the entire process of Presidential elections in September this year.

Since the beginning of the political crisis in the Maldives, India has repeatedly urged the Government of the Maldives to allow all institutions, including the Supreme Court and the Parliament, to function in a free and independent manner, and to permit genuine political dialogue between all political parties. This has also been the demand of the international community at large.

Impact of the ban on work permits to Indians is also quite negative for the investors and its investment-friendly image. By such political measures, the government is interfering in day to day HR and management of the business. All foreign investors in the Maldives, depend on the supply of cost-effective, competent professional manpower from India, given its large pool of technical manpower. In hurting Indians, Abdulla Yameen is actually hurting Maldivian business companies and foreign investor in tourism, construction, ICT, health and education sector.

This is the first time people to people contacts have been disrupted between the two countries. Despite a breakdown in New Delhi Male relationship, people to people contact have been good. With this move by Male, the relationship is headed for much worse time.