Good afternoon, distinguished members of the business community, Singapore entrepreneurs, our ministers and all who are present here today.
Maldives and Singapore relations and our connections go a long way. We have many similarities. We became independent together. We also are an island nation similar to Singapore. Our population, of course, ours is very small – four hundred and odd thousands.
But for far too long, we believe, our country has been hidden from international entrepreneurship.
The country has decided with its last elections to open up for international business and engagement. Therefore, we are pursuing a very vigorous privatization policy. We are pursuing a policy that, we hope, will bring international capital.
And also we believe that returns in the Maldives, in the past, have been very handsome, and therefore your capital will be safe and it will give you returns.
If you have a look at the Maldives tourism industry, which is our flagship industry, the amount of Singapore investments in that industry is quite substantial. I am sure those who are aware of it would understand that the returns that they have got from their investments in the Maldives in that industry are also very substantial and handsome.
We want you to look at our other industries – the fishing industry, the transport industry, the schools, the harbours, the airports, the roads, and there are a host of other areas where we believe that you can make good profit out of it.
This government is a centre-right government. We are friendly to businessmen and we believe that the individual stands to gain with good profit and with good business. There is no restriction on repatriation of currency. As our Trade Ambassador pointed out, we have good legal structure – the financial laws in the country are sufficient for us to proceed along these lines. Therefore, there really is nothing that is stopping us from taking the Singapore example and also our people to benefit as much as the people of this country has benefited during the last three decades and more.
We are here today because we have been invited to observe and rather to inaugurate the water works in Singapore. It is a major achievement not only for this country but for many small countries with not so many water resources.
Water harvesting is possible and our people can have safe drinking water even if our ground water is not sufficient for that purpose. So we hope and we believe.
I have with us here Shaheeda Adam, who is our water specialist, she is a water engineer and we have been making our modest approaches in the Maldives in trying to provide safe drinking water for everyone in the country.
Maldives Water and Sewerage Company until recently has been owned by the government. But now the government has privatized – offered 20 per cent of its shares to Hitachi. I believe this is a company that has also acquired Aqua-Tech which is a Singapore company that has been providing water technology for us for a very long time especially in the resorts. I believe more than 40 per cent of our resorts would now have Singapore technology providing water for our tourism industry. Not only water, all the other products and services are also available, as I mentioned.
I am sure the function is not arranged so that politicians like me want to lecture you, but rather so that we can have a dialogue a conversation and sees what other information that we may be able to provide you.
We will be work amicably. We want to see this relationship built and strengthened for the days to come.
Again as the Ambassador pointed out, it is a Sunday and it is a day of rest in Singapore. And we are so glad that everyone, our good Ambassador from Singapore to the Maldives himself also being able to grace us here. Therefore we hope that we can have a very fruitful conversation.
Thank you very much.