Deferred Wage, Suction Dredger, Green Tax

Thursday, September 22

13 of 22 ice plants managed by Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company were handed over to the state utility Fenaka Corporation, which expects to spend MVR20 million (US$1.2 million) on repairing factories that are currently not operational.

Fenaka also launched a mobile app that shows fishermen the volume of ice available at plants.

MIFCO produces over 800 tonnes of ice a day but has faced challenges due to rising oil prices as fuel accounts for 70% of the production cost.

Thursday, September 22

The Bank of Maldives announced five islands chosen under an annual project to “provide 50,000 trees to reforest and rejuvenate island land spaces“.

Imports grew by 48% but exports fell sharply by 53% in August compared to the same period last year. Customs collected MVR391 million (US$25 million) as revenue during the month, up 36% from last year.

Wednesday, September 21

The president ratified changes brought to the employment law to indefinitely delay 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. 

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 delay was prompted by adverse effects of a global economic downturn on the Maldives, according to the government-sponsored legislation.

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 21

The president also ratified changes to the tourism law to ensure the collection of the green tax, which is levied at rates of US$3 per day from tourists who stay at guesthouses and US$6 per day from tourists at resorts, hotels and safari vessels.

The law was amended to clear up confusion over tax collection after the green tax provisions were amended in July. Changes brought to apply the US$6 per day rate for guesthouses with more than 50 rooms stated that green tax collection would come into force in January 2023. Some lawyers interpreted the provision to mean that the tax could not be taken at all until January.

The latest revisions removed the ambiguity. The president signed the bill into law shortly after parliament voted in favour of the government-sponsored amendments.

Green tax receipts amounted to US$39 million as of July.

The High Court issued a stay order to halt the Housing Development Corporation’s termination of an agreement signed in 2017 to establish a water theme park in Hulhumalé together with a six-storey hotel.

The Waterfront and Leisure Company appealed after the civil court refused to grant the injunction. The High Court halted proceedings pending a judgment on the legality of the lower court decision.

The Bank of Maldives announced a new promotion for customers sending money overseas. The prizes include an iPhone 13 Pro every two weeks and an all-inclusive luxury resort trip for two as the grand prize.

The promotion period is 21 September to 31 December. All customers who use the International Money Transfer service will be automatically entered.

The Maldives hosted a meeting of the Corporate Registers Forum, an association of international corporate registries, at the Paradise Island Resort near Malé.

“The CRF Annual Conference is combined with the Annual General Meeting and provides delegates with the opportunity to review the latest developments in in corporate business registers internationally and exchange experiences & information on the present & future of business registries,” according to the economic development ministry.

Tuesday, September 20

The Malé City Council announced new rates for renting out the Lonuziyaaraiy park in the capital’s eastern waterfront for weddings, parties and other events.

The council announced packages for leasing nine sections of the park with 10% and 20% discounts respectively for rental periods of 12 and 24 hours. The prices range from MVR3,000 (US$195) to MVR15,000 for 12 hours. The rent is MVR15,000 for 24 hours. The park was previously leased for one to eight hours with hourly charges. But many clients arrive for preparations hours ahead of the approved time slot and use water and electricity without paying, according to the council.

Tuesday, September 20

Some 1,413 people applied to purchase the 1,344 Vinares flats in Hulhumalé, after the Housing Development Corporation put the apartments up for sale and invited interested buyers to submit applications to its online portal before 15 September. 

Ten 13-storey towers were built under the US$163 million project. The price of the three-bedroom Vinares apartments reportedly range from MVR4.9 million (US$317,769) to MVR6 million with MVR19,000 to MVR23,000 monthly payments over 20 to 25 years. Both the HDC and planning ministry defended the prices in the face of criticism.

A boat from the southern island of Gaaf Dhaal Gadhdhoo dumped nearly 20 tonnes of fish after the Kooddoo fisheries complex allegedly refused to buy the catch. The facility of the state-owned Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company complained about high temperatures, according to the boat crew. Local islands did not want to buy the large skipjack tuna either, he said.

Boats have reportedly been queuing up at Kooddoo for hours or days as the facility’s 2,000-tonne storage capacity fills up quickly during bountiful fishing seasons.

Boats are also facing difficulty in buying enough ice to keep their catch fresh. Some ice plants in the region are currently not operational.

Fish catch also exceeded MIFCO’s storage capacity earlier this year. In late April, the state-owned company lifted purchasing controls in the face of protests and agreed to weigh all the fish caught by more than 60 boats queued at Kooddoo, a buildup that took days to clear.

Monday, September 19

The health ministry awarded projects to construct an extension building for the Shaviyani Feevah health centre as well as extension buildings and porticos for the Alif Alif Mathiveri health centre, the Shaviyani Lhaimagu health centre, and the Shaviyani Narudhoo health centre.

The cost of the projects ranges between MVR3.6 million (US$233,400) to more than MVR4.8 million.

Monday, September 19

Sunday, September 18

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company inaugurated its new cutter suction dredger Bodu Jarraafa for the land reclamation project of Gaaf Alif Dhaandhoo. About 25 hectares is to be reclaimed to double the size of the southern island.

The latest model of IHC Beaver cutter suction dredger is reported to be fuel efficient, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and capable of dredging at a depth of 18 meters.

MTCC purchased a 3,700-cubic metre trailing suction hopper dredger in 2017. The Mahaa Jarraafu is capable of dredging at depths of 50 metres.

Sunday, September 18