Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday announced its decision to grant USD 70 million (MVR 1 billion) to the government of Maldives for renewable energy and waste management.
In response to a reporter's question at a press conference held at the President's Office, ADB's President Takehiko Nakao revealed that while USD 10 million (MVR 154 million) would be granted for renewable energy production over the next two years, an additional USD 60 million (MVR 925 million) would be allotted for waste management.
Nakao stated that the bank is also considering to grant financial assistance for the sectors of health, education, and small and medium enterprises. According to the bank president, ADB will grant concessional loans instead of free aid, at an interest rate of one percent.
Addressing the press gathering, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer shared that ADB assisted in the compilation of the government's National Development Plan, the first draft of which is due to be completed in the first week of September.
"ADB is also aiding in the compilation of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) reform plan, on the special request of the administration", he said.
While acknowledging the bank's generous assistance for development projects in Maldives over the past 41 years, the minister highlighted that most of ADB's assistance focussed on renewable energy and infrastructural projects.
"The bank has provided help not only to the government, but to private companies as well, such as with the recently finished micro, small and medium enterprises development project".
Minister Ameer further emphasised ADB's role in seminal projects, noting that the bank granted USD 35 million for the Greater Male' Environment Improvement and Waste Management Project.
President Nakao hailed the economic growth of Maldives over the past five years, which stood at an average of six percent.
He revealed that discussions regarding ways to improve the tourism sector were held earlier, including around further development of the guesthouse industry.
Highlighting that the biggest challenge to the Maldivian economy was the national debt, he urged the government to take important steps to offset the issue.
This marks Nakao's first visit to the Maldives. He has thus far met with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Speaker of Parliament and former President Mohamed Nasheed, and Finance Minister Ameer. He is scheduled to meet other government officials, and observe the waste management project at landfill island Thilafushi and the second phase of development of reclaimed suburb Hulhumale' during his visit.
ADB has extended financial assistance to Maldives since 1978, with USD 277 million granted as loans, free aid and investments, and USD 29 million as technical support.