STO Profits, Housing Loans, Sichuan Return

Thursday, August 3

An import ban on plastic bags thinner than 50 microns was pushed back from January to June 2024. Sweet areca nuts (supari) in plastic bottles would also be banned with effect in January, according to a revised presidential decree on banned single-use plastics.

In December last year, the list of single-use plastics banned for import, production and sale was republished upon ratification of the new waste management law. The items banned with effect on 19 December are:

  • straws 
  • plates 
  • cutleries 
  • stirrers 
  • Styrofoam boxes
  • cotton buds with plastic stems
  • plastic bottles below 500ml (carbonated and non-carbonated drinks except water)
  • plastic water bottles below 500ml
  • toiletries in bottles below 50ml
  • drinking cups below 250ml
  • sweet areca nuts in plastic packing (supari) 
  • shopping bags smaller than 30 by 30cm 

The sale of plastic shopping bags below 50-micron thickness as well as shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion bottles from 50 to 250ml was banned on 1 March 2023. The local production and use of plastic water bottles below 1 litre is due to be banned on 1 March 2024. 

Thursday, August 3

Tuesday, August 1

After a hiatus of seven years, China’s Sichuan Air resumed direct flights to the Maldives. The Chinese carrier started operating thrice weekly flights between Chengdu and Malé’s Velana International Airport. 

The airport operator hailed Sichuan’s return as “a major milestone for our thriving tourism industry.”

Chinese tourists started returning in late January for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic struck in early 2020. By the end of July, China was the third largest tourist market for the Maldives.

The Maldives welcomed 91,555 Chinese tourists by 30 July, representing a market share of 8.6%.

A total of 1,070,765 tourists were recorded by the date.

China was the single largest source market before the pandemic with 284,029 visitors in 2019.

Tuesday, August 1

The Bank of Maldives extended its Home Purchase Loan and Home Purchase Financing tenor to 25 years for new applicants.

“In 2021, we reduced our Home Loan and Financing rates to 9% which remain the lowest rate in the country. Today’s announcement will further benefit home buyers with the extended repayment period of 25 years as well as an extended grace period of 24 months,” said BML CEO and Managing Director Karl Stumke.

The home ownership loans are offered at a rate of 9% with 20% equity.

Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo celebrated 18 years of operating in the Maldives.

On the occasion, Ooredoo rolled out special offers, conducted its annual fishing competition and CEO Khalid Ali announced plans to install 10 new solar sites.

Sunday, July 30

The State Trading Organisation posted a net profit of MVR303 million (US$19.6 million) for the second quarter of 2023, down 18% from the previous quarter.

Total revenue of MVR3.8 billion was down 14% as income declined due to reductions in fuel and diesel prices to reflect lower global oil prices.

However, total after tax profits of MVR671 million earned by June was MVR366 million higher than the same period last year.

Sunday, July 30

Customs revenue in June decreased by 12% to MVR347 million (US$22.5 million) as imports declined by 24% compared to the same period last year. But exports grew by 7% from June 2022.

The top five importing countries were Oman, China, India, UAE and Singapore. Nearly 60% of exports – chiefly unprocessed tuna – went to Thailand.