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Government to form 'National Task Force on Resilience Building and Economic Recovery

Ahmed Aiham
07 May 2020, MVT 18:13
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a National Taskforce meeting. PHOTO: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Ahmed Aiham
07 May 2020, MVT 18:13

The government, on Thursday, confirmed the decision to establish a 'National Taskforce on Resilience Building and Economic Recovery', to prepare for the eventual lifting of the 'State of Public Health Emergency' imposed in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an announcement made by the President's Office, the decision was made by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a cabinet minister's meeting on April 13. Thus far, no members have been appointed to the task force.

The task force, which operates under the instruction of President Solih, is intended to facilitate a "swift national economic recovery" in collaboration with the various stakeholders and industries of the economy, including the private sector, civil society and governmental institutions.

Moreover, its team will discuss avenues to acquire financial assistance in response to the economic regressions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and develop economic relief packages for those affected.

Efforts of the taskforce are split into three working groups;

- Working Group on Finance

Aims to reprioritise the 2020 national budget and assess new expenses that have arisen due to COVID-19.

Tasked with evaluating and forecasting changes to state expenditure and facilitating the acquisition of funds through "bilateral, multilateral and other cooperative undertakings", as well as negotiating the repayment terms of current government loans.

- Working Group on Economic Recovery

Focuses on investigating the impact of economic regressions on SME's and freelance workers.

Will develop relief packages and implement a 'stimulus package' to aid new business ventures and the provision of a benefits scheme' to support those whose employment status was affected due to the pandemic.

Responsible for determining, in accordance with health sector guidelines, the regulations, strategies and timelines by which regular economic activities related to tourism and other industries will remerge.

- Working Group on Social Sector

Will conduct social activities to protect the public from adverse social changes and situations due to the pandemic.

Initiates measures to negate possible mental health complications and prioritize the strengthening of systems in place to protect the rights of victims of domestic violence and children

Evaluates ways to improve quality of life for expatriate workers and organize repatriation when requested.

With collaborative spirit

Previously, the government formulated a national task force with over 40 government agencies. However, the task force operates without contributors outside the government.

The government aims for the new taskforce to collaborate with various sectors of the country to present ideal and transparent solutions.

However, Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) on Wednesday, expressed concerns over the government's lack of consultation with the organization in formulating the MVR 2.5 billion stimulus package.

"We have repeatedly urged the government to take definitive actions in a timely manner", said MATI

"These requests have been shared in forums, in meetings as well as in writing, but there has been no substantial action forthcoming".

"We call on the government to resume meaningful dialogue with all segments and stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry in order to prevent bankruptcies, retain staff, facilitate cash flows so that we can ensure appropriate steps are taken to facilitate a recovery".

Maldives currently records 618 confirmed, 596 active cases of COVID-19 and a total of 20 recoveries.

The country recorded its first virus death, of an 83-year-old local female, on April 29. The second death involved the passing of a 33-year-old male Bangladeshi national, following a tonic-clonic seizure, who afterwards tested positive for COVID-19.

Following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15, Malé has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. The city is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

In addition to the capital, COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Uligan in Haa Alif Atoll, Narudhoo and Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, and Thulusdhoo in Kaafu Atoll.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 3.8 million people and claimed over 265,356 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.3 million people have recovered.

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