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Maldives banking on India Inc for infrastructure projects

india Updated: Jan 23, 2010 16:54 IST

A host of Indian companies are investing in the Maldives, as this South Asian paradise for tourists is wooing investments in a wide variety of sectors from infrastructure to healthcare, says the country's president Mohamed Nasheed.

"We invite investments in the areas of infrastructure development -- airports, ports, running of sewage systems, renewable energy, education, healthcare and hospitality," Nasheed told reporters here Saturday.

"We will be signing an agreement with the Apollo Group to run a hospital. Bidding is also on for an airport and two Indian companies are in the fray," he said on the margins of the Partnership Summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The visiting president also sought to dispel the impression that he was critical of India at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, and said his country is of the view that India can look at renewable energy sources to meet its additional energy needs.

"We understand India needs power as more than 100 million people do not have electricity. Our view is it can look at renewable energy sources like wind power for that rather than going in for fossil fuel power," he explained.

"People progressed from stone age not because of absence of stones but they found better technologies. Similarly nations should look at alternative technologies in their development."

According to Nasheed, who hit global headlines for presiding over the first underwater cabinet meeting, his country is also looking at wind power in a major way and is in talks with Indian windmill manufacturers.

"The idea is to make Maldives carbon neutral in 10 years. The investment may be to the tune of $100 million per annum. "Suzlon is investing in Maldives. We are also in talks with Win Wind based in Chennai," he said.

Speaking about the reform process in Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,100 coral islands with a population of just 360,000, Nasheed said the process was on to open up the economy further and privatising several public sector companies.

He said more than 60 percent of the nation's budget was spent on bureaucracy and that the country will be downsizing government drastically despite the opposition. Maldives is also committed to fiscal prudence under the guidance of multilateral institutions.

Earlier, delivering his keynote address at the inaugural session of the Partnership Summit, Nasheed said the country is now a vibrant democracy after three decades of dictatorial rule.

Saying that he will be concluding his Indian visit Saturday and return to the "paradise" that is the Maldives, Nasheed invited the businessmen present at the summit to join him there.