Stringent precautionary measures implemented to contain Covid19 both nationally and internationally have resulted in severe and widespread socio-economic repercussions in the Maldives. From the temporary suspension of on arrival visas, to restrictive measures and lockdowns, Covid19 continues to affect daily routines and disrupt livelihoods. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, with the support of his Cabinet of Ministers, established the national taskforce on Resilience and Recovery to address the short to medium term challenges posed by these impacts. This national level mechanism allows for multiagency and multi sectoral coordination to address the most pressing issues facing the country at this time.
The key mandate of the Resilience and Recovery Taskforce is to formulate strategies, in close coordination with and advice from relevant stakeholders, to revive the Maldives’ economy, boost economic growth, and relieve and realign the social sector to face new challenges.
The Government intends to undertake this work collaboratively with the private sector, civil society and other institutions of the state.
The Recovery and Resilience Taskforce will work under the direct guidance of the President. It will operate through 3 Working Groups. They are:
- Working Group on Finance
- Working Group on Economic Recovery
- Working Group on Social Sector
The Working Group on Finance is mandated to reprioritise the 2020 budget, estimate additional Covid19 related expenses, predict impact on income, and based on these, forecast the amount of money required. This Working Group is tasked to cooperate closely with bilateral and multilateral partners to access funds and explore greater flexibility in foreign debt repayment.
The second group, Working Group on Economic Recovery, is mandated to design and issue relief packages in order to assist businesses to address financial challenges caused by the current economic decline. Relief packages are intended for businesses ranging from the tourism industry, small and medium enterprises and freelance workers. The Group is required to administer benefit schemes such as for unemployment, and propose employment opportunities for Maldivians in the medium term. The Economic Recovery Group is tasked to identify economic activities that will accelerate and facilitate the process of economic diversification in the Maldives. If circumstances permit, with the recommendation and advice from healthcare experts, this Working Group will also formulate and implement plans for easing the lockdown and opening up the Maldives.
The mandate of the Working Group on Social Sector will address impacts that have arisen or have been exacerbated as a result of Covid19. These include mental health issues as a result of termination of employment and income losses, as well as an increase in the abuse of narcotics. This Working Group is also tasked to improve delivery of social services to prevent domestic violence and protect children’s rights. In addition to this, the Social Sector Group will also address the need to improve living conditions of expatriate migrant workers, and if needed, facilitate the return of expatriates to their country of permanent residence.
The work of these three working groups is already underway. However, through the establishment of the National Task Force on Resilience Building and Economic Recovery, the Government’s intention is to increase stakeholders in these national matters, and coordinate processes to build a Resilient Maldives in a more comprehensive and inclusive manner.