Debt Service, Minimum Wage, Charter Flights

Thursday, September 8

The Housing Development Corporation extended the deadline for the auction sale of 77 beachfront and beachside plots from Hulhumalé.

The size of the plots range from 1,095.05 square feet to 2,588.14 square feet. The minimum prices are MVR6,500 (US$421) per square foot for beachfront plots and MVR5,500 per square foot for beachside plots.

Thursday, September 8

The tax authority collected MVR1.32 billion (US$85.6 million) in August, up 3.6% compared to the same month last year “due to the increment in collection of TGST, Airport Development Fee and Airport Service Charge” and the receipt of US$5 million as resort lease period extension fees.

The Capital Market Development Authority concluded a three-day training programme for directors of local authority companies with 20 participants from different islands.

“This programme focuses on corporate governance, duties and responsibilities of directors to Local Authority Companies and its relation to the efficient performance in commensuration to the CG code and other regulations in the Maldives such as Companies Act, Taxation and Anti-corruption,” according to CMDA.

“In addition, this programme offers practical frameworks and tools to sharpen business judgments and decision-making skills, along with analytical skills, knowledge on taxation and business ethics.”

A previous training programme for corporate directors “to sharpen their business judgments and decision-making skills” concluded on 1 September.

Wednesday, September 7

Citing adverse effects of a global economic downturn on the Maldives, the government proposed indefinitely delaying the introduction of a minimum wage for foreign workers.

A minimum wage for Maldivians came into effect in January 2022. An exemption for expatriates was due to end on 22 September.

A bill to amend the employment law was introduced at Wednesday’s sitting of parliament. In lieu of setting a new date, the government proposed authorising the economic minister to decide when to introduce the minimum wage for migrant workers. The decision must be based on recommendations by an advisory board in consideration of the state of the economy as well as the country’s wherewithal and productivity.

The monthly pay for local workers is MVR4,500 (US$290) for small businesses, MVR7,000 for the civil service and medium-sized enterprises, and MVR8,000 for large businesses such as resorts. Micro-enterprises – businesses that do not earn an annual profit of MVR75,000 – were exempted.

Wednesday, September 7

The Maldives does not intend to seek restructuring of debt owed to China, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer told parliament, assuring lawmakers that the government is not facing any difficulties with debt servicing and loan repayment. “[The Maldives] has never defaulted. So we don’t expect a situation where we could default in the future,” he said.

But of US$200 million forecast in the budget as foreign loans to finance the fiscal deficit, Ameer revealed that US$100 million has yet to be secured.

Some infrastructure projects have been put on hold due to the unaffordable cost of debt financing with the sale of bonds and sukuks, Ameer said, citing interest rate hikes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Projects earmarked in the budget will be tendered once cashflow problems are resolved as the government is prioritising expenditure such as salaries and subsidies, he added.

Foreign currency reserves will be sufficient to pay for essential imports, he assured.

Pressed by the speaker, Ameer refused to say how much would be spent in the rest of the year to repay external debt. The “information will be provided separately to MPs,” he said.

Echoing advice by the International Monetary Fund, a Public Expenditure Review by the World Bank released in August suggested that the Maldives has a “small window of opportunity” to avoid a looming debt crisis. Payments of US$600 million will come due in 2026.

The finance ministry suspended three local companies – Wink Maldives, Tommy Engineering, and T & B Engineering – for “collusive practice” in the bidding process for the supply of a van to the president’s office.

The firms were debarred from public procurement until March 2023, rendering them “ineligible to participate in a tender or be awarded a contract by the government”. 

Tuesday, September 6

The national airline operator told parliament’s state-owned enterprises oversight committee that it has decided to hand back islands under its ownership to the tourism ministry. Island Aviation Services no longer plans to invest in resort development, the company informed lawmakers.

The island of Ruthibirah in Thaa Atoll, which was awarded to IAS as part of the Thimarafushi airport development, will also be returned. The island was previously subleased to a Singaporean company but the resort development project remained stalled.

Tuesday, September 6

Monday, September 5

Bank of Maldives invited applications from local NGOs for small grants funding worth MVR50,000 (US$3,242) each “to implement projects in the areas of education, environment, sports and community development.”

The funding is provided under the bank’s Community Fund for “community-based projects that address environmental issues and promote sustainable development.” The bank has provided financial assistance for 70 projects across the country so far.

The deadline for submission is 17 October 2022.

Monday, September 5

Domestic carrier Manta Air commenced a charter flight service to the Hoarafushi Airport in Haa Alif Atoll under an agreement with JA Manafaru resort.

Manta will operate daily flights from the Velana International Airport to the northernmost atoll with its newly introduced Beechcraft 1900D, an 18-seater aircraft with a standing height aisle and an air-conditioned and high-ceiling cabin.

Sunday, September 4

Ahmed Athif, former deputy managing director, was promoted to become the new managing director of the Housing Development Corporation.

Sunday, September 4

Saturday, September 3

Ritz-Carlton Maldives paid the highest service charge in August, according to a list compiled by Resort Workers Maldives based on information from resort staff.

The new resort paid US$1,317 per employee. Before Ritz-Carlton topped the list, Nautilus Maldives, Waldorf Astoria and One&Only Reethi Rah were most commonly in first place.

Resorts are legally mandated to collect a service charge of at least 10% from tourists, which must be distributed equally among staff after deducting no more than 1% as an administrative cost.

Saturday, September 3