Malé, May 10, 2016 — World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region Annette Dixon concluded her first visit to Maldives with a commitment that the Bank would continue to partner with the government to help make the country’s economic growth more inclusive and sustainable.
Ms. Dixon’s visit took her to Dharavandhoo, and Maafushi where she was generously hosted by members of the Island Council who described some of the challenges of providing basic services, including access to safe drinking water, to the island population. She also had the opportunity to observe guest house tourism and meet with other small business owners to understand the realities of doing business in Maldives. In Vandhoo she visited the state-of-the-art Regional Waste Management Facility (RWMF), the first of its kind, developed under the World Bank supported Maldives Environmental Management Project (MEMP) and was apprised of the government’s plans to improve solid waste management.
“The Maldives is stunningly beautiful, endowed with unique natural resources; but its most important asset are its people, mostly young and full of potential. Improving economic participation of the youth and women in society will be essential for Maldives to continue to thrive.” observed Dixon appreciating the warm welcome extended to her during her three day visit to the archipelago. “Having been a partner in the country’s development for over 35 years, the World Bank Group remains committed to promoting more inclusive and sustainable growth in the Maldives” said the Regional Vice President
While in Male’, Dixon met with His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the Minister of Finance and the Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority. At their meeting, the President outlined his priorities for the development of Maldives and underscored the areas in which the WBG could assist.
Dixon discussed the World Bank’s program which are assisting the country to improve its public financial management, the relevance and quality of education, and the development of the financial sector. She also reviewed plans to support future projects to strengthen the economy by creating new jobs for Maldivian workers in fisheries and tourism. “It will be very important for Maldives to ensure that it preserves its environment, and strengthens the macro-fiscal situation to ensure that growth is sustained to reduce Maldives’ vulnerability to external shocks.” Dixon said.
During the mission, the Government of Maldives along with the World Bank Group hosted a public event to disseminate the findings of its most recent flagship report titled “Maldives Systematic Country Diagnostic: Identifying Opportunities and Constraints to Ending Poverty and Promoting Shared Prosperity” and a companion study entitled “Understanding Gender in the Maldives: Towards Inclusive Development”. The interaction also included an opportunity to hear the voices of Maldivian youth that represents over 50% of the total population of Maldives.
During the insightful discussions with business owners, and civil society representatives, Dixon heard about challenges and opportunities related to doing business and enjoying a good quality of life in Maldives. She came away with an appreciation of the broad spectrum of governance challenges faced by the population. Concerns regarding the employment and employability of youth were particularly underscored. The Vice President was accompanied on this visit by Françoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives and the Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives, who are both based in Colombo.
The current active World Bank portfolio in Maldives (as at April 2016) comprises 3 projects with a total net commitment value of $32.95 million. The International Development Association of the WBG lends money on highly concessional terms. In the case of the Maldives, the portfolio consists entirely of grants. The Maldives portfolio is split accordingly; 50 percent dedicated to environmental and natural resources sector, education (30 percent), and public financial management (20 percent). Currently, the portfolio is also comprised of four recipient-executed grants financed from trust funds with a total net commitment value of $16.8 million. WBG publications are available on line at https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/maldives