Male: Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid during his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) speech on Tuesday (September 29, 2020) thanked the Narendra Modi-led Indian government for the $250 million budgetary support to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “I thank all our partners who have generously extended financial, material and technical support during this crisis, even when they themselves are going through challenging times.”
Adding, “One such example is India. The recent budget support of 250 million US dollars, was the single largest financial assistance from a donor during this pandemic.”
Earlier this month, India had formally extended the $250 budgetary support or loan at a ceremony in Maldivian capital Malé in the presence of Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir and CEO of SBI in Male, Bharat Mishra.
Maldives is the only country to which India has provided such assistance to deal with COVID’s economic impact.
Amidst the COVID crisis, India has reached out to the Maldives in a number of ways including by sending a rapid response team, a consignment of 5.5 tons of essential medicines, followed by more consignments and 580 tons of food aid including foodgrains, onions, etc in May.
Maldives FM highlighted how COVID impacted his country as “a vibrant and thriving nation – our lives, came to a standstill, almost overnight. With no tourists, revenue declined, and debt increased. The economy is set to contract – for the first time in a decade.”
The Indian ocean country has constituted a National Taskforce on Response and Recovery and it will focus on post COVID action plan.
Maldives FM also called for “meaningful action” for the protection of the ocean and said, “Millions of people rely on the ocean and its bounty, for their survival. For Maldivians, as custodians of over 90,000 sqkm of the Indian Ocean, it is part of our identity, our way of life, our economy.”
The country has committed to the protection of 20% of its waters and is also committed to working with the Global Ocean Alliance towards achieving the global target of protecting 30% of the ocean in the coming years.
Maldives President Ibrahim Solih at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 had announced to phase out single-use plastics by 2023.