What Are the Opportunities for Maldives to Build Back Better from COVID-19? World Bank Holds Discussions

Faris Hadad-Zervos, the World Bank’s new Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, completed his first visit to the Maldives last week. The purpose of this visit was to experience firsthand the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery efforts, as well as the progress and results of the World Bank-supported projects in the archipelago. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, this was the Country Director’s first visit to the Maldives in his new role. Hadad-Zervos was joined by Chiyo Kanda, the new Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka, based in Colombo.

“The Maldives story has always been one of resilience. Time and again, we have seen the Maldives confront its vulnerabilities and external shocks, only to emerge stronger,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos. “My visit reaffirms the World Bank’s commitment to help alleviate the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, create jobs, and foster inclusive and sustainable growth in the Maldives. We look forward to working with the government, other development partners, the private sector and civil society towards this common goal.”

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On their week-long visit to the Maldives, the new World Bank country management team paid courtesy calls on His Excellency the President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih; Speaker of the Parliament Hon. Mohamed Nasheed; Governor of Central Bank Hon. Ali Hashim; Minister of Finance Hon. Ibrahim Ameer; Minister of Economic Development Hon. Fayyaz Ismail; Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure Hon. Mohamed Aslam; Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Abdulla Shahid; Minister of Environment Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan; Minister of Health Hon. Ahmed Naseem; Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Hon. Zaha Waheed; and, Minister of Higher Education Dr. Ibrahim Hassan. 

During the introductory meetings with His Excellency the President, Hon. Speaker of the Parliament and Governor of Central Bank, the Country Director and Country Manager discussed the macro-fiscal environment and the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy. They also conveyed the World Bank’s readiness to support the Maldives in building back better for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

From the portfolio ministers, the Country Director and Country Manager enquired about the progress of the World Bank-funded projects and reassured continued support to the Maldives in achieving its development goals. These introductory meetings were also an opportunity for the World Bank delegation to get guidance from the respective ministers on further engagement. 

In Male’, the Country Director and Country Manager also engaged in a dialogue with bilateral and multilateral development partners. They also gathered views from key civil society stakeholders on development opportunities and key constraints facing the Maldives. 

“From our visit, we have learned not only the challenges facing the Maldives, but also the opportunities for sustainable recovery and building resilience,” said Chiyo Kanda, the World Bank Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka. “As a trusted development partner of 42 years, the World Bank will leverage its resources and knowledge to help the Maldives pursue an inclusive and resilient growth path in the post-COVID-19 era.”

World Bank in Maldives

The World Bank responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Maldives in April 2020 with a $7.3 million COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project to help the country prevent, detect and strengthen its public health preparedness.

In addition, $10 million in contingency financing, under Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Financing with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option, and Pandemic Emergency Facility of $952,000 have also been made available to support Maldives.

Further, to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on workers and their families, and to increase the capacity of social protection programs to respond to future emergencies, the COVID-19 Emergency Income Support Project of $12.8 million was approved in June 2020.

The World Bank portfolio in the Maldives currently consists of nine active operations with total net commitment of $148 million.

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