Ramadan Prices, Agriculture Insurance, Dhiraagu Dividend

Wednesday, March 22

A shipment of mature coconuts ordered by the State Trading Organisation to bring down prices is due to arrive on 27 March, according to STO managing director Hussain Amr.

Earlier this month, the price of mature coconuts soared to MVR1,600 (US$104) per bulk bag (burlap sack). The price previously ranged between MVR250 and MVR300 at the local market in Malé, where individual coconuts could now cost up to MVR15. 

The fivefold increase was blamed on a shortage of supplies from other islands, which was caused by a plant disease outbreak in the north and the declining number of Maldivians who pick coconuts. Foreign workers who have taken up the job demand higher pay, vendors at the market complained. 

As part of its efforts to keep food prices stable during Ramadan, STO also imported 2 tons of fresh limes this week after market prices spiked above MVR100 per kg. The price dropped after STO started selling for MVR60 per kg.

The price of chilis from Kandoodhoo island – also an essential item in high demand during Ramadan – was reported to have fallen from MVR1,200 per kg last Ramadan to MVR330 this year.

Wednesday, March 22

Tuesday, March 21

The Housing Development Corporation opened a studio for ceramic art and pottery in Hulhumalé, the first of its kind in the Maldives.

The Clay Studio can be used from “solitary sessions and seminars to team-building exercises and birthday celebrations,” according to HDC. It is located in the Raincrest Tower A.

Tuesday, March 21

The Maldives became the first small island developing state to launch an Integrated National Financing Strategy, “a comprehensive plan to mobilise resources and scale up existing public and private financing towards delivering on climate and social sector needs.”

Monday, March 20

Allied Insurance Company’s Islamic window Ayady Takaful introduced an insurance scheme for farmers for the first time in the Maldives.

The shariah-compliant Crop Takaful offers protection against “the loss of cost production.” The plan covers damage from natural disasters such as flooding.

Monday, March 20

A dividend of MVR7.33 (US$0.5) per share was approved at Dhiraagu’s annual general meeting at the Crossroads resort. The telco decided to distribute MVR557 million, including MVR1.66 per share as interim dividend and MVR5.67 per share as the final dividend.

Dhiraagu posted a profit of MVR909 million for 2022.

Last year, Dhiraagu paid MVR6.20 (US$0.4) per share after earning a profit of MVR813 million in 2021.

Bahrain’s Batelco owns a majority stake of Dhiraagu with 41.8% of shares held by the Maldives government and 6.2% by the public.

The Maldives Islamic Bank opened its first U.S. dollar ATM. Customers with U.S. dollar accounts and platinum cards can use the ATM to deposit and withdraw dollars with a daily withdrawal limit of US$1,000 and daily deposit limit of US$12,000. The monthly withdrawal limit is US$5,000.

The ATM is located in MIB’s 24-hour self-service centre on Orchid Magu in Malé.

The Agro National Corporation expects to supply 150 tons of watermelon during Ramadan in a bid to keep prices low. The government company sells wholesale to businesses at MVR18 (US$1.16) per kilo.

Watermelon juice is a popular choice for the fast-breaking meal and demand peaks in Malé during Ramadan.

AgroNat – which buys from local farmers and supplies to resorts and wholesalers – will also sell other fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, banana, pumpkin and papaya to cater to Ramadan demand. Since its inception in 2020, the company has partnered with more than 800 farmers from across the country.

Sunday, March 19

Briefing the press on operational changes for Ramadan, CEO Shahid Ali said the Maldives Ports Limited is aiming to clear foodstuff and perishable items on the day of arrival at the Malé commercial harbour. The MPL has formed a special task-force to speed up clearance, he added.

Four new reach stacker vehicles were added to MPL’s terminal fleet in January “to accommodate the high demand and traffic” during Ramadan. Temporary sheds were also set up to keep food items in the shade.

Sunday, March 19

The first lady opened a childcare centre established for staff of the Maldives Ports Limited.

“The MPL Kids Care Center supervises the children of the company’s staff during its working hours in a safe and quality childcare setting,” according to the president’s office. “Twelve children are currently registered with the centre located on M. Omadhoofannu. Designed to accommodate 30 to 40 children, the centre would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding Friday.”

Saturday, March 18

Dhiraagu signed a US$30 million facility agreement with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank to fund investment in the SEA-ME-WE 6 (SMW6) Submarine Cable System

“Dhiraagu’s investment in SMW6 will connect the Maldives to the global internet superhighway, further strengthening the digital infrastructure of the company and helping make the Maldives a global digital hub,” according to the telco. “It will also help reduce latency, improve quality, and reduce the cost of Dhiraagu’s internet services. 
The second facility brings the total funding from IFC and ADB to $55 million which will support Dhiraagu’s investment in digital infrastructure and strengthen connectivity across the Maldives.”

The first facility agreement of US$25 million signed last year was intended to support “Dhiraagu’s working capital and capital investment programme to meet the increasing data and broadband needs of customers by expanding 5G services, providing high-speed fibre broadband to more islands and supporting the company’s Domestic Submarine Cable expansion project.”

Saturday, March 18

Several state-owned companies decided to hand out a monetary ‘Ramadan gift’ to all employees on top of the mandatory MVR3,000 (US$195) Ramadan bonus.

The Maldives Airports Company and Maldives Ports Limited decided to give an additional MVR2,000 whilst the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company approved MVR1,000 per employee. The Malé Water and Sewerage Company gave an extra MVR3,000 and the State Electricity Company deposited MVR2,500 in addition to the bonus

The employment law entitles all Muslim workers to the Ramadan bonus.

Both private and government companies also handed out gift packs to staff with dates and canned tuna.