Ministry of Finance on Saturday, revealed that a total of MVR 290,131 were disbursed under government's 'Income Support Allowance' scheme.
'Income Support Allowance' was introduced as relief for individuals experiencing financial difficulties as a result of employment issues due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) press conference, Minister of Finance, Ibrahim Ameer noted that, till date, 69 individuals have received assistance via the income support scheme since its disbursement commenced on May 20.
Under the program, the government will grant an 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.
According to the scheme, all individuals in employment until March 1, currently facing dismissals or suspensions and placed on leave without pay are eligible to receive an allowance of MVR 5,000. Individuals earning less than this amount as a result of pay cuts are eligible to receive the difference up to a maximum of MVR 5,000.
Although the relief scheme envisages provision of income support for a three-month period, Minister of Economic Development, Fayyaz Ismail stated that the its duration will be extended if current economic circumstances do not improve within the stipulated period.
The economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected resort workers, expatriate workers, employees with temporary contracts, and freelancers.
Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) estimated that 11,000 resort workers were forced to go on no-pay leave due to the shutdown of resorts across the country over the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, the government also introduced a financial stimulus package of MVR 2.5 billion to prevent the closure of local businesses and the loss of jobs in a bid to counteract the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy. Small and Medium enterprises are apportioned MVR 400 million of this sum.
As of May 14, the government has spent a total of MVR 873.3 million on COVID-19 response efforts, out of which MVR 581.1 million were spent on the National Disaster Management Authority. The majority of the expenditure is linked to the procurement of medical consumables, supplies and other requisites.
Maldives recorded its first COVID-19 case involving an expatriate worker on April 19. Presently, 65 percent of all confirmed cases constitute expatriates. Till date, 119 Indian nationals have tested positive for the virus in Maldives.
At present, the island nation records 1,274 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,161 active cases, 109 recoveries and four fatalities. Its capital Malé, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since recording its first local transmission on April 15.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 5.3 million people and claimed over 340,500 lives around the world. However, 2.17 million people have recovered from the infection.