The Government of Maldives and the World Bank signed two agreements totalling US$67.8 million (approximately MVR1 billion) to support critical reforms to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the fisheries sector in Maldives.
The agreements were signed at the Ministry of Finance in Male’ by Honorable Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance, and Faris H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
“The Maldivian government is working on a comprehensive plan to improve the functioning of state-owned enterprises and diversify our economy,” said Hon. Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance of Maldives. “These two projects will help create more opportunities for businesses, strengthen our successful fisheries industry, and bring about important reforms that ensure our long-term financial and economic stability.”
The Transforming Fisheries Sector Management in South-West Indian Ocean Region and Maldives Project (TransFORM) project is a $64.8 million initiative, out of which $52.8 million is allocated to Maldives, aimed at improving fisheries management in the South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) Region. Fisheries, especially small-scale fisheries, play a significant role in the livelihoods of an estimated 35 million people in the SWIO countries of whom 14.3 million people live in low-elevation coastal areas, and 3.3 million are directly employed in marine fishing. The project focuses on sharing knowledge and data to make better decisions and strengthen the country’s ability to govern and protect the fisheries sector. It aims to support other SWIO island nations and make Maldives a regional leader by providing knowledge and assistance. Promoting sustainable and inclusive practices to expand and diversify the fisheries industry, removing barriers to business competition, and training at least 40,000 people from the coastal communities with a special focus on encouraging more women to participate in fisheries management are also proposed interventions.
The $15 million Maldives Competitiveness and Growth Project (MCGP) aims to assist in encouraging greater private sector participation in the economy and in enhancing the management and operation of specific SOEs. The MCGP aims to make the 40,000 registered SMEs in Maldives more competitive by improving digital financial systems to make it easier for them to access loans. It will also provide support to selected innovative SMEs to help them grow and develop new environmentally friendly products that can compete in emerging markets, encouraging other existing small businesses and potential entrepreneurs to develop and contribute to a vibrant SME ecosystem.
“Over the years, Maldives has leveraged its beauty and natural assets to drive its impressive growth primarily through tourism,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos, the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “The country’s aim moving forward is to evolve this growth through greater diversification, transformation within sectors, and resilience against climactic and fiscal shocks. These projects will contribute to that aim.”
The TransFORM project will be implemented by the regional Indian Ocean Commission and Maldives’ Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture. The MCGP project will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance.