Student Loans, Bus Cards, Cross Subsidy

Thursday, January 12

The Bank of Maldives announced a reduction of student loan interest rates from 9% to 5% with effect on 1 February.

“This positive change will be extended to all Kiyavaa Loans, including all existing loans,” BML Chairperson Yooshau Saeed said at a function held at Crossroads to celebrate the bank’s 40th anniversary.

“All modern financial services that Maldivians are accustomed to have been introduced by BML, from ATMs to card services, internet banking, POS machines and cashless payment methods,” he added.

Thursday, January 12

The Housing Development Corporation unveiled plans to develop the Ruhgandu beach area in Hulhumalé phase two with cafés and water sports huts.

Tuesday, January 10

The Raajje Transport Link in partnership with the Bank of Maldives started accepting bus fare payments through MasterCard and VISA branded contactless debit and credit cards.

“Fare collection validators are installed in all our RTL Male City buses which allows our customers to simply tap their MasterCard and VISA branded contactless debit or credit card to pay for their commute on our RTL bus service network,” according to RTL, a subsidiary of the state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company.

“Our more than 300,000 customers can now use their BML debit or credit cards to make tap-and-go payments easily and securely on the RTL network,” said BML CEO Karl Stumke.

“As open loop becomes the most widely adopted payment method across smart cities worldwide, we are proud of our efforts which led to the Maldives being a part of this list,” said Sandun Hapugoda, Country Manager, Sri Lanka & Maldives, Mastercard.

Tuesday, January 10

The Maldives Inland Revenue Authority collected MVR2.58 billion (US$167 million) in December, up 27% compared to the same month in 2021.

The increase was “mainly due to the increment in collection of Lease Period Extension Fee, GGST, Income Tax from companies and non-individuals and Non-Resident Withholding Tax,” MIRA explained.

“Lease Period Extension Fee is one of the highest revenue contributor during this month. Pursuant to the Lease Period Extension Fee Regulation, resorts could opt to extend their lease period for 99 years. The payment option and rate being tied to the statutory deadline of 26th December 2022, and as the rate of extension increases after this deadline, most payers chose to pay before the deadline. This led to a significant increment in revenue.”

Sunday, January 8

The government has raised US$27 million for the reclamation of the Giraavaru lagoon to develop a new city, Dhauru reported.

The funds were raised through the 99-year lease of Dhekennafaru island and Dhigaru lagoon in Noonu Atoll to a Swiss company, which has paid US$6 million upfront with the rest to be settled in two months, an unnamed official told the online outlet.

The agreement was made under the government’s cross-subsidy policy, which offers designated islands, lagoons or plots of land for tourism without a bidding process in exchange for investment in key infrastructure projects. 

“The total investment proposed or committed under this model shall be set-off against the acquisition cost and/or the declared land rent of the island/land/lagoon allocated for tourism under this model,” according to the ministry of national planning, housing and infrastructure.

The government invited expressions of interest or proposals to develop a residential city in the Giraavaru lagoon near Malé on 16 December. A minimum financing requirement was set at US$5 million.

Awarding 2,000 plots of land from Giraavaru to native residents of the capital is a pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The Noonu island and lagoon were added to the cross-subsidy list on 25 December. The other islands on offer are Shaviyani Kudalhaimendhoo, Noonu Kunnamalei, Lhaviyani Meyyafushi, Thaa Dhiffushi, Thaa Kalhufahalafushi, and Gaafu Alifu Fulagi.  

In late December, the cross-subsidy rules were revised to hand over islands or lagoons after an initial payment of US$1 million. The regulations previously required full payment of a project’s funding.

The change was made after the infrastructure ministry signed financing agreements with four companies to build new domestic airports. A dozen contractor financing proposals were submitted after the minimum financing amount was reduced from US$5 million to US$3 million. The bid announcement was made for the third time last August.

New airports are to be developed on the islands of Haa Dhaalu Makunudhoo, Shaviyani Bilehfahi, Baa Thulhaadhoo, Thaa Vilufushi, Faafu Magoodhoo and south Raa Atoll (location to be decided upon).

Sunday, January 8

Saturday, January 7

Amid the peak season of the tourism industry, the Velana International Airport’s air traffic movement record was broken with 605 seaplane and 251 wheelbase movements.

A runway movements record after the opening of the 3,400 meter, code-F runway in October was set on 22 December with 104 international flights, 104 domestic flights, and 20 general aviation (private jets).

Saturday, January 7