2023 Budget, Q3 Profits, Record Arrivals

Wednesday, November 2

A joint project by Dhiraagu and UNDP to promote “drone technology use for community-based disaster resilience planning” was concluded in Addu City.

“This innovative project seeks to address the challenges faced by the Maldives when it comes to data collection, especially on disaster risk reduction, combining drone mapping with techniques to capture quality images in order to improve the GIS, accessed through Dhiraagu,” the telco explained.

Wednesday, November 2

State-owned enterprises posted earnings for the third quarter of 2022.

The State Trading Organisation’s net profit increased from MVR155 million (US$10 million) in Q2-2022 to MVR168 million for the last quarter. The country’s primary wholesaler is responsible for importing the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice, flour, and sugar. STO subsidiaries also trade in petroleum, cooking gas, construction materials, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, electronics, supermarket products and insurance.

A net profit of MVR367 million for the Bank of Maldives was 17% higher than the previous quarter. “Business volumes across all key sectors were robust whilst maintaining a quality loan portfolio. Capital and liquidity ratios are well above regulatory requirements and the Bank expects to close the year strongly,” according to the national bank.

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company’s net profit was MVR48 million, down from MVR77 million in the previous quarter as a result of higher oil prices and investments in minibuses and speedboat ferries. Of 112 ongoing projects – harbours, airports, roads, causeways, shore protection, dredging and reclamation – eight were completed and work commenced on 11 new projects during the quarter.

The Maldives Tourism Development Corporation made a profit of US$754,731, up from US$647,775 in the previous quarter. MTDC paid dividends in 2021 for the first time in 11 years. Its main income source is rent from two subleased five-star resorts: Anantara Kihavah Villas and Ayada Maldives. A new property is under development on Naagoshi island in partnership with Dubai’s R.A.W Galadari.

Tuesday, November 1

A new record for monthly tourist arrivals was set with 153,737 visitors during October, up 8.3% from the corresponding pre-pandemic period in 2019.

As last year’s total of 1.3 million tourists was surpassed by 26 October, the government remains optimistic of meeting its target of 1.6 million visitors for 2022.

India was the top market with 191,524 tourists as of 2 November followed by Russia, UK, Germany and Italy.

A monthly arrivals record was also set in May with more than 104,000 holidaymakers and arrivals exceeded pre-pandemic levels in July.

Tuesday, November 1

Monday, October 31

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer presented to parliament a budget of MVR42.7 billion (US$2.7 billion) for 2023.

Total government spending of MVR40.6 billion was projected to exceed estimated revenue and grants of MVR32.1 billion. The government plans to plug the fiscal deficit with the sale of treasury bills in the domestic market and “blue” or “green” bonds in the international capital market. The deficit could rise from MVR8.4 billion to MVR14 billion if parliament rejects proposed sales tax hikes.

Total public and publicly guaranteed debt is expected to reach MVR113 billion – 109% of GDP – next year, of which MVR40 billion is external debt.

With the presidential election due to take place in late 2023, MVR8.4 billion was allocated for infrastructure projects, including 1,211 ongoing projects, 790 projects in the tendering and pre-tender stages, and more than 200 new projects. Notable projects include the Thilamalé overwater bridge, Malé port relocation, regional airports, and land reclamation in Gulhifalhu and Addu.

Recurrent expenditure – subsidies, wages and administrative costs – account for 70% of the budget. Some MVR493 million was earmarked to increase the salary and allowances of workers in the health sector.

Monday, October 31

Sujatha Haleem, former Chief Operating Officer of the Pension Office, was promoted to Chief Executive Officer.