Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, on Wednesday, revealed that a total of 1,449 individuals registered at the ministry over the loss of employment amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Maldives.
Appearing on a televised programme aired on state-owned 'Public Service Media', Minister Fayyaz refuted rumours that over 4,000 persons were experiencing financial difficulties as a result of employment changes.
He further noted that the majority of those affected, excluding those that were terminated, were facing changes to their pay.
Minister Fayyaz attributed the low numbers to the relief measures implemented by the state to cushion the economic blow on tourist facilities due to COVID-19.
The government had previously decided to defer lease payments for resorts for six months, as well as payments for water and electricity bills.
He further declared the government's intention to extend and expand the criteria for the Income Support Allowance for those facing economic repercussions.
Introduced as a relief scheme for individuals experiencing financial difficulties as a result of employment issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is granting a monthly allowance of up to MVR 5,000 to individuals that fall into four main categories: individuals that were dismissed or suspended from employment, individuals on leave without pay, individuals facing salary deductions, and freelance workers.
All Maldivian citizens with employment based in Maldives are eligible for a three-month allowance starting April 2020.
Meanwhile, the government also implemented a financial stimulus package of MVR 2.5 billion to prevent the closure of local businesses and the loss of jobs.
As per statistics disseminated by the minister, a total of MVR 40 million was disbursed by the state to roughly 8,500 individuals through the Income Support scheme, as well as MVR 300 million to 1,725 Small Medium Enterprises (SME) via the stimulus package.
Furthermore, approximately MVR 476 million was granted to 332 large businesses.
The minister also stated that 17,000 individuals had their loans deferred by the Bank of Maldives, under its temporary moratorium on loan repayments for customers with financial difficulties.
The moratoriums allowed customers to postpone monthly principal profit/lease repayments and interest payments for a period of six months, in addition to extending the tenor of the loan by six months as well, resulting in a less taxing loan repayment scheme.