Minister of Finance, Ibrahim Ameer, on Thursday revealed that the government would introduce financial packages worth MVR 2.5 billion to combat the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a press conference held at Dharubaaruge convention centre, Minister Ameer stated that the measures were intended to prevent the closing down of local businesses and protect the loss of jobs.
According to the minister, the financial packages would carry a 6 percent interest rate and repayment period of three years, following a interest-free 6-month grace period.
The finance minister urged all recipients of the financial packages to utilize them efficiently and prioritize the preservation of jobs.
Furthermore, Minister Ameer revealed that the government had decided to provide a 40 percent subsidy on electricity bills and a 30 percent subsidy on water bills for May and April.
Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail stated that the measures were finalized after consultations with business stakeholders.
Minister Fayyaz also stated that the SME Development Finance Corporation (SDFC) had temporarily stopped issuing loans for new businesses.
Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA)’s Governor, Ali Hashim stated that a total of USD 150 million would be distributed to banks to mitigate challenges in acquiring dollars.
Highlighting that the COVID-19 outbreak would result in considerable economic repercussions, Minister Ameer assured that the government would withdraw any loans necessary to ensure the survival of Maldives' economy.
Additionally, Minister Fayyaz expressed confidence that the economic situation would improve within a short period of time as a result of the new measures.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih recently revealed that the government were to lose between USD 135.9 million (MVR 2.5 billion) and USD 446.6 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in state revenue this year under current circumstances amidst the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Furthermore measures to counteract the estimated losses include the cabinet's decision to cut MVR 1 billion in state costs and close government offices from March 19 to 26. The parliament approved a 20 percent cut of parliamentarian's salaries on Wednesday.
Currently there are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maldives, including a tourist couple on a liveaboard, two cases from Anantara Dhigu, five foreign nationals from Kuredu Island Resort as well as two foreign citizens from Sandies Bathala and Kuramathi Maldives each. No locals have tested positive for the virus as of yet.