India has provided a $250-million grant to the Maldives to help it mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating effect on its tourism-based economy. The sum, around Rs 1,825 crore as per the current exchange rate, was provided via Treasury Bond sale to State Bank of India (SBI), Male with a tenure of 10 years for repayment, the Indian embassy in Male said Sunday.
This came after a request by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The India-Maldives partnership is unique and the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted this. India will continue to stand by the people and Government of Maldives during these difficult times,” the embassy said in a statement. A handover ceremony was held at the Maldives Foreign Ministry on Sunday.
India had provided substantial assistance to the Maldives during the pandemic.
A team of doctors and specialists visited the country in March to assist in Covid-19 preparedness. A consignment of 5.5 tonnes of essential medicines was donated in April, another consignment of 6.2 tonnes of medicines was airlifted from four Indian cities to Male, and 580 tonnes of food aid was provided in May.
India also lifted export restrictions on medical consumables, respiratory apparatus, and testing kits and reagents throughout the pandemic to assist Maldives in its battle against Covid-19.
On the request of the Maldives government, India will also send doctors and nurses recruited on short-term contracts to reinforce its health system.
Neeza Imad, Minister of State for Economic Development of Maldives, has said that Covid-19 has had a “devastating impact” on the country’s economy, particularly to SMEs that account for most of the tourism-related employment. Tourism constitutes a third of the Maldives’ national revenue. The International Monetary Fund has projected that the country’s economy will contract by 8.1 per cent in 2020.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir and CEO, SBI, Male Bharat Mishra were present at the handover ceremony.
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