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Economy thrives, projects speed ahead despite challenges

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Before President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu assumed office, the economic condition of the Maldives was significantly deteriorating. Experts attribute the primary reason for the depreciation of the Maldivian currency to the excessive printing of money by the previous administration.

According to statistics from the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), more than USD 518.04 million was printed over the last three consecutive years, marking a historic high compared to USD 388.53 million printed over 40 years.

Additionally, upon assuming office, President Muizzu inherited a heavy debt burden. The total debt amounted to over USD 7.71 billion, with a significant portion owed to companies for upcoming parliamentary elections and previously initiated projects, totaling USD 584.88 million.

Despite these challenges, President Muizzu has been proactive in rejuvenating the Maldives’ economic status. Within three months of his tenure, USD 35 million has been deposited into the sovereign development fund. The President estimates that more than USD 100 million will be deposited into the fund by the end of the year.

discontinuation of printing money has been regarded as a pivotal step towards economic progression for the Maldives

President Muizzu’s commitment to revitalizing the Maldivian economy without resorting to the printing of money is indeed a significant pledge. By discontinuing the practice of printing money, the government aims to address economic challenges while ensuring fiscal responsibility and long-term sustainability.

The decision to immediately halt the printing of money upon assuming office underscores President Muizzu’s determination to prioritize sound monetary policy. This move reflects an acknowledgment of the risks associated with excessive money printing, including inflation and currency devaluation, and signals a commitment to addressing these challenges through prudent financial management.

Furthermore, President Muizzu’s plans to boost the country’s prosperity and income by reducing reliance on loans and settling debts owed to both foreign and domestic entities demonstrate a holistic approach to economic revitalization.

attracting a vast pool of investors

The efforts of the present administration to attract a wide range of investors reflect a strategic approach to addressing the significant development needs of the Maldives. By engaging in investment forums both domestically and abroad, the government has been successful in showcasing the diverse investment opportunities available in the country.

The decision to host investment forums in countries like China and the UAE demonstrates a proactive approach to international investment promotion. These forums serve as platforms for highlighting the potential for investment in key sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, and hospitality. By creating awareness about these opportunities, the government aims to attract investors who are interested in contributing to the development of critical projects, including the establishment of bridges, domestic airports, and resorts.

Over 500 projects underway

The continuation of 527 projects, including those that faced interruptions due to non-payment to companies during the government transition, underscores the commitment of President Muizzu’s administration to ensure continuity and progress in ongoing initiatives. Despite the challenges encountered, efforts have been made to address issues such as delayed payments and optimize project expenses to keep important projects on track.

It’s notable that the current year’s budget, initially approved by the prior administration, may not have fully aligned with President Muizzu’s priorities and rules for project implementation. This misalignment may have resulted in some projects not receiving adequate budget allocations or not being included in the budget at all. However, the administration has taken steps to optimize expenses and prioritize projects that align with President Muizzu’s vision for development

Initiatives to enhance economic growth and foster sustainable growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recognized President Muizzu’s initiatives as some of the strongest implementations seen among world leaders, emphasizing their potential for substantial progression. The IMF applauded the government’s decision not to overdraw the government’s account and expressed its readiness to provide any assistance needed. This endorsement from the IMF underscores the effectiveness of President Muizzu’s economic policies and strategies.

Additionally, the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries has voiced support for the government’s initiatives, recognizing them as favorable for the Maldivian future as a growing economy. Despite challenges such as a shortage of dollars for small businesses, the Chamber remains optimistic that the government’s decisive actions will lead to economic growth and stability in the value of the dollar.

The government has projected a 5.5 percent economic growth rate for this year, indicating confidence in the trajectory of the economy under President Muizzu’s leadership. Furthermore, President Muizzu revealed a significant reduction in the country’s primary debt balance, from USD 103.61 billion last year to USD 8.68 million in the current year. This reduction in debt, achieved within just four months, demonstrates the government’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and its ability to effectively manage the country’s finances.

Overall, these developments indicate that the government’s economic rejuvenation efforts have been successful, earning the confidence of global financial institutions in the Maldives’ future economic prospects.

Source(s): PsmNews

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BML issues MVR 5 bil in loans in 2023

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Bank of Maldives (BML) has reported issuing a total of MVR 5 billion in loans in 2023.

According to BML, despite inflation rate hikes and geopolitical tensions globally, the Maldives economic growth increased by 6.5% last year, which was reflected on the bank’s performance as well.

BML reported its balance sheet for 2023 observed an MVR 3.8 billion increment, while the bank’s total asset value increased over MVR 45 billion. Additionally, the bank’s operating profit rose by 7 percent, registering MVR 2.7 billion in total.

The bank had earlier announced a record-high profit-after-tax of MVR 2.07 billion in annual terms observed in 2023.

BML’s Director of Retail, Business and SME Banking, Moosa Nimal said the bank issued MVR 5 billion in loans to both businesses and individuals last year, out of which MVR 1.4 billion was specifically issued to individuals and SME segment, which is the highest issuance for the segment in the last five years.

Besides this, the bank further enhanced its personal banking services with new and improved products for general customers and businesses.

Speaking on the new services the bank introduced last year, Nimal said, “Education is a top priority for us, and to assure the Maldivian economy is built on the foundation of strong education, we sliced the Kiyavaa Loan rate from 9% to 5%. Additionally, to qualify individuals to seek loan facilities for housing, we extended the Home Purchase Loan and Financing period to 25 years, and extended the maximum loan amount to MVR 1.2 million without a collateral.”

Additionally, three businesses under the BML Startup Grant successfully began operations last year, while two more were assisted under the grant.

Last year 23,000 new customers joined the bank, surging its customer base to 345,000 in total and 66,000 new bank accounts were opened which include 5,600 business accounts.

Source(s): sun.mv

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Government to hold discussions with America to enhance PayPal services

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Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed has revealed plans to hold discussions with the American government during the month of July, aiming to bolstering PayPal services in the Maldives and resolve the various challenges individuals encounter in accessing these services.

PayPal is an e-wallet or an application designed to facilitate the transfer of money online. Despite the application being utilised by several Maldivians, they have faced issues in obtaining all the services PayPal offers. As such, Maldivians using PayPal are restricted solely to outbound fund transfers, with no provision for inbound transactions.

Highlighting the commitment of President Dr. Muizzu to expanding online financial transaction avenues, Minister Saeed underscored ongoing efforts to introduce diverse e-wallet services nationwide. Confirming a scheduled official trip to the United States on July 10, the minister revealed intentions to confer with potential digital wallet providers from America. He ensured that the discussions will pertain to address the issues and challenged faced by e-wallet users in the Maldives.

Furthermore, Minister Saeed affirmed that that discussions will extend to establishing agreements with prominent digital wallet entities such as PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, with a view to enhancing the seamless facilitation of online financial transactions.

In addition to the e-wallets from America, efforts are underway by the government to introduce digital wallets from other countries. Under these initiatives, the Bank of Maldives (BML) has made arrangements such that dollar transactions from foreign platforms and e-wallet services are available since March 31. Among the e-wallets that were made available, WeChat Pay, a popular Chinese e-wallet that facilitates online financial transactions, was also included. Previously, BML halted these services following the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to prevent the outflow of foreign currency from the nation.

Source(s): PsmNews

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India proposes Free Trade Agreement with Maldives

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Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed on Saturday announced Indian government’s proposal for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

At the press conference held by the Ministry of Economic Development on Saturday to highlight the achievements and initiatives of the state body in the last six months, Minister Saeed said India has expressed interest for a Free Trade Agreement with the Maldives besides a SAFTA.

“President of the Maldives has extended the opportunity to the international community” Saeed commented.

Despite revealing Indian’s proposal for an FTA, Saeed did not disclose further information of the high-level discussion meeting between him and the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Munu Mahawar.

The two had discussed on further strengthening the cooperative ties of both nations in multiple areas.

The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is the free trade arrangement of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The agreement came into force in 2006, succeeding the 1993 SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement. SAFTA signatory countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

Under the SAFTA agreement, export duties on Maldives fish products to India were quashed in 2022.

Earlier, during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration, Maldives government entered into a Free Trade Agreement with China. However, Yameen’s successor, former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had criticized the agreement and announced his administration would not honor due to its particulars.

The Maldives-China Free Trade Agreement breathed new life after Dr. Mohamed Muizzu took charge as Maldives President in November 2023. The incumbent President said the agreement was a symbol of strong relations between the Maldives and China, adding his administration was ready to continue honoring the agreement.

While India has expressed interested for an FTA with the Maldives, the relations between the two countries soured earlier after three high-ranking Maldivian officials made derogatory remarks against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Moreover, President Dr. Muizzu has been labeled as “pro-China” in several Indian media outlets, but the Maldives head of state had later responded to the claims stating he is “pro-Maldives”.

Source(s): sun.mv

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