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Finance Minister: GDP would have been at MVR 140B if not for the pandemic

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Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, on Wednesday, stated that Maldives’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, would have been at MVR 140 billion by the end of this year.

Speaking at a campaign rally of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held at Ameer’s birth island, GDh. Gadhdhoo last night, the minister said Maldives’ economy was improving at a high speed ahead of the pandemic.

He detailed that only USD 162 million was in the state’s usable reserve when the current administration took office in 2018, which was raised USD 316 million in just two years.

Nevertheless, Ameer stressed that the nation’s GDP dropped by 33 percent due to the pandemic, citing the Maldivian economy would have been at much better levels by the end of this year, if the pandemic had not taken place.

Ameer forecasted the following numbers with respect to the economy by the end of this term, if not for the pandemic.

GDP – MVR 140 billion
Usable reserve – USD 500 million
Tourist arrivals – Three million per year
Nevertheless, Ameer said the Maldivian economy was in a better condition compared to before, even with the difficulties faced due to the pandemic.

“Even with the pandemic, the usable reserve stood at approximately USD 177 million when we concluded 2020 amid the pandemic; an increase from the USD 162 million it stood at by the end of 2018,” he said.

The minister stressed that the government had incurred huge expenses during the pandemic to provide income support, frontline allowance and financial assistance to small and medium enterprises.

He added that the government undertook these tasks while faring through the biggest low the Maldives and the world’s economy have ever experienced.

Minister Ameer said the government, despite a multitude of difficulties, carried out a great number of infrastructure development projects – which would aid in doubling the economy in the next term.

Statistics show that Maldives’ usable reserve stood at USD 594 million at the end of last month. USD 238 million has been deducted from the reserve between last year’s December and July.

Maldives’ GDP improved by 13 percent last year, while so far this year, it has been at 9 percent.

Source(s): sun.mv

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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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