COVID-19 was the worst hit pandemic in recent history. As economies are deteriorating, some governments are providing supportive benefits and stimulus packages. Here are the 5 exemplary efforts executed by the government of Maldives during COVID-19 pandemic.
1-Swift communication process
Since discovery of first COVID-19 case outside of China, Maldives government started discussions about strengthening safety measures in the country. President, himself led these discussions. President then formed committees and a taskforce to oversee the situation. SOP’s were prepared and regular press conferences headed by Mabrook (which initially started with 1 every 12 hours) were carried out to give necessary information to the public. Although some feel the process were slow, the press conference provide ease to the citizens.
2-Assurance of staple food supply
Foreign Minister Hon. Abdulla Shahid along with Managing Director of STO, Husen Amru Mohamed Rashad quickly contacted the neighbouring countries such as India, Sri Lanka and other major food supplying countries to make sure Maldives has enough food stock for months, especially the staple. While Minister focused on gathering food and financial assistance on one hand, Managing Director Amru along with other government institutions and businessmen formed delivery mechanism to support the public. To date, most of the necessities were available in the country.
3- Arranged smooth medical supply
Shortage of medical suppliers such as face masks and sanitizers were emptying the racks of almost all the shops while observing a price hike. Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail assured the public and informed the shop owners that serious consequences will be dealt with price influencers. Minister of Health along with Medtech ordered enough ventilators in order to prepare for a worst case scenario, while Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed engaged in assembling quarantine centres all over the country. Contrary to a surge that was expected late month of May, public witnessed improvements to daily recovery cases. Handful from medical industry along with key public figure expected more from the government.
4- Financial and Stimulus packages
Public were eager to hear about an unemployment benefit for the jobless including the likes of freelancers. According to Economic Minister Fayaz Ismail, freelancers were a grey area and that it is a challenge to classify them. Calling a review before a package can be disposed. On the other side, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer has released several assistance packages to resorts and businesses including the likes of Media in the form of loans with lower interest rates. This is a lifeline for some businesses but, economy still continues to suffer since Maldives closed its border.
5- Support businesses by payment deferment
State Banks has further issued loans to several businesses and some loan payments have been differed up to six months. In addition, MIRA is lenient on the collection of taxes especially from the MSMEs.