WASHINGTON, D.C., June 9, 2020 — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $12.8 million COVID-19 Emergency Income Support Project to help Maldives mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on poor and vulnerable workers and their families. The project also aims to increase the capacity of the country’s social protection programs to respond to future emergencies.
The new project will largely finance the Government’s COVID-19 Income Support Allowance scheme, by providing temporary support of up to MVR 5,000 (approximately $322) per month to workers who have lost their jobs or income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will give a lifeline to struggling families and enable them to stay at home, preventing further spread of the virus, especially within the congested capital city.
“The drastic fall in tourism revenues and the constraints necessitated by the COVID-19 containment efforts have dealt a severe blow to low-income households who have lost their jobs or their source of income,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “This project will support the Government’s efforts to deliver cash transfers and food benefits directly to those who need them the most. The project will also strengthen the country’s social welfare system to improve its preparedness for future crises.”
The project will strengthen the Government’s capacity to distribute allowances and other cash transfers. It will enhance administrative systems to give a greater role to local councils in helping people across the archipelago access support. A new unemployment insurance program, along with a far-reaching national social protection framework, will also be formulated and launched to help soften the blow on both employers and employees in future emergencies. Additionally, the existing retirement pension scheme and other similar programs will be reviewed to make sure future generations of Maldivians can reap the benefit.
“The current crisis shows the importance of having a safety net for all Maldivians, to prevent people from falling into poverty when times get tough,” said Thomas Walker, Senior Economist and Task Team Leader. “This project will help build fiscally sustainable social protection programs that can reach any Maldivian who needs help.”
The COVID-19 Emergency Income Support Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Economic Development with support from the National Social Protection Authority and Maldives Pension Administration Office. The total project cost is $12.8 million, including a $6.4 million grant and a $6.4 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries.
World Bank’s COVID-19 Support to the Maldives
The World Bank has approved a fast track package of $7.3 million to help the Maldives prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness. In addition, a $10 million contingency financing, under Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Financing with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT DDO), signed in 2019, has also been made available to support the Government’s efforts to mitigate the economic and financial impact of the pandemic.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.