At the World Bank Maldives Country Management Retreat being held at Kurumba Maldives, President Mohamed Nasheed has shared the government’s economic policy with the World Bank. The objective of this retreat is to advance in refocusing the Bank Group’s strategy in the Maldives.
Speaking at the meeting, the President said that his administration inherited a nation “on the verge of bankruptcy”.
“The fiscal irresponsibility of our predecessors has left a big black hole in the treasury”, the President added.
Speaking in this regard, the President said during the previous administration, civil service pay was hiked up as a means of patronage, commercial loans were taken to pay for infrastructure projects in the islands with the intention of buying votes, and that contracts were awarded for such projects with no financing secured.
He further stated that over sixty resorts were tendered out “in a thinly disguised auction” and that the advance lease payments were used for consumption.
He added that the exorbitant lease rents became more of a burden on the successful bidders.
The President also said that such actions were not the actions of a prudent, responsible or competent government.
“It is one of life’s great ironies that it falls to a government led by a party accused with little experience of governing, to put the house back in order”, said the President.
Stressing that this was a challenge the government would rise to, and meet head on, the President said government’s aim was to give people the opportunity to live a decent life.
Furthermore, he said the government’s development plan was one that was both equitable and sustainable.
In his speech, the President highlighted the five key pledges of his administration as well as the government’s commitment to deliver those pledges.
Speaking further on this, the President stated that a social safety net would be instituted; a programme of corporatisation has been launched, new products in fisheries and tourism would be introduced to diversify the economic base; and, that a Technical and Vocational Training Programme has already begun.
In his speech, the President said the government would consult with and seek the assistance of the World Bank in all those endeavours. Noting that IDA facilities for the Maldives were limited, the President said the 14 million Dollars was not enough.
Underlining that the Civil Service has an important role in creating an efficient government and a sustained economy, the President said, it was now necessary to reduce the number of civil servants. Moreover, he said redundancy allowances would be provided for government employees who are dismissed from their jobs.