Tourism Masterplan, Foreign Proprietors, Startup Grants

Thursday, May 25

Formulated with support from the Asian Development Bank, the tourism ministry launched the Fifth Tourism Master Plan, setting out the “vision, policy priorities, and strategies” for the next five years and targeting annual receipts of US$6 billion by 2027, up from US$3.5 billion in 2021.

Achieving the goal would require increasing yields and occupancy rates (particularly in off-season months), opening new properties in the southernmost and northernmost atolls, significantly growing both domestic and international aviation capacity, and developing the human resources and skills needed for a multitude of new jobs.

The masterplan laid out 15 goals “to rally the industry and government for priority action”:

  1. Maximise the benefits of tourism to all atoll communities
  2. Communicate the full potential of Maldives to existing and new audiences
  3. Offer new products and experiences
  4. Build climate resilience and protect natural assets
  5. Enhance energy security and achieve net zero emissions
  6. Provide outstanding transport services
  7. Attract and retain a world-class tourism workforce
  8. Accelerate investment and innovative finance
  9. Regulatory reform to make it easier to do business
  10. Accelerate 360o digitisation
  11. Whole-of-government prioritisation of tourism
  12. Advance data analytics and insights
  13. Strengthen health, safety, and security systems
  14. Establish transformational tourism industry standards
  15. Ensure tourism is accessible for all

Thursday, May 25

The Bank of Maldives invited applications for grant funding to start or grow a business, offering MVR500,000 (US$32,425) each to two selected entrepreneurs.

The annual BML Startup Grant programme also provides “mentoring support for the winners to successfully implement their plans.”

The deadline for applications is 2 July and shortlisted candidates will be required to present a business plan to the bank’s evaluation committee.

Wednesday, May 24

The Maldives and Malaysia signed a double tax avoidance agreement, aiming “to enhance taxpayer certainty and avoid double taxation of income from residents of both countries.”

Wednesday, May 24

Monday, May 22

The economic development ministry enacted new regulations on sole proprietorships with harsh measures targeting retail businesses illegally operated by foreigners. Direct or indirect benefits to an expatriate were explicitly prohibited. A sole proprietorship found to have transferred money to a foreigner’s bank account in relation to a business transaction could be de-registered and fined MVR100,000 (US$6,485).

Several shops, cafés and teashops as well as guesthouses registered under a Maldivian’s name are operated by foreign workers. The registration loophole posed obstacles to solving the longstanding issue through legal action. The government hopes targeting the transfer of business profits could disincentivise foreigners and mitigate the problem.

Monday, May 22

The Bank of Maldives announced 10 winning proposals under the first phase of its annual Community Fund, which offers financial assistance for “NGOs to contribute to their communities through sustainable projects.” 

  • Skate Park – R. Dhuvaafaru, submitted by Dhuvaafaru Zuvaanunge Jamiyya 
  • Shaded waiting space for parents and children – Gn. Fuvahmulah, submitted by Dhadimagu Zuvaanunge Jamiyya 
  • Development of Olhamathaa Eco Park Phase 2 – G.Dh. Hoadedhoo, submitted by Hoadedhoo Sports 
  • Dhodhi picnic and camping area – B. Dharavandhoo, submitted by Dharavandhoo Ekuveri Zuvaanun
  • Development of Thinadhoo Kulhi – G.Dh. Thinadhoo, submitted by Huvadhoo Swimming Club 
  • Reading park at Mulak School – M. Mulak, submitted by Community Empowerment Linkage (CEL) 
  • Harbor waiting area – L. Kunahandhoo submitted by Kunahandhoo Island Nomination Group (KING)
  • Providing sports equipment to Nellaidhoo School – H.Dh. Nellaidhoo, submitted by Fato Sports Academy
  • Ocean education program – S. Hithadhoo, submitted by Maldives Manta Conservation Program 
  • Harbour waiting area and public restrooms – S. Feydhoo, submitted by Addu Eco Club

Sunday, May 21

The government spent 70% of the annual budget for subsidies during the first four months, according to weekly fiscal developments published by the finance ministry. Of MVR2.3 billion (US$149 million) approved for subsidies, MVR1.6 billion was spent by 11 May. The amount was MVR500 million higher than the same period last year.

More than MVR870 million was also spent out of MVR1 billion approved for the Aasandha health insurance scheme.

Expenditure on food and electricity subsidies exceeded budgeted amounts last year due to elevated global oil and commodity prices. The finance ministry forecast MVR2 billion as fuel subsidies this year. Whilst MVR341.5 million was approved in the 2022 budget, subsiding oil reached MVR1.7 billion last year.

Sunday, May 21

Medtech Diagnotics raised MVR20 million (US$1.2 million) in a month after listing the first sukuk (shariah-compliant bond) by a private company.

The bond issue was “strongly supported” by several of the 237 investors on the Viyana platform for private securities, according to First National Finance Corporation, the lead arranger of the seven-year sukuk.

Medtech is a top distributor of consumables, machinery and medical equipment.