Instant Payment, Addu Shangri-La, Indian Flights

Thursday, August 31

Urbanco signed an agreement with the sports ministry to allocate a 10-hectare plot of land in Thilafushi for the development of a motor sports arena.

Thursday, August 31

The SME Finance Corporation offered loans of up to MVR300,000 (US$19,455) to taxi drivers and creative artists with interest rates between 6% to 8%, a six-month grace period and five-year repayment plan.

The Maldives Fund Management Corporation signed an MoU with national carrier Maldivian to establish an international airline.

According to MFMC, the new carrier will “leverage the combined strengths and expertise” of the two state-owned companies and target tourist markets such as China, Russia and European countries.

The Fahi Dhiriulhun Corporation enlisted American company Structures Unlimited LLC to build 4,000 housing units for US$249 million.

“Under this contract, 750 housing units will be developed in Addu Atoll, 500 units in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Thinadhoo, 1000 units in Laamu Atoll Gan, 1000 units in Haa Dhaalu Atoll Kulhudhuffushi and 750 units will be developed in the Greater Malé region,” according to the government-owned housing developer.

Wednesday, August 30

Indian national carrier Air India announced plans to resume thrice-weekly direct flights to the Maldives from the cities of Mumbai and Bangalore on October 30.

Earlier in the week, India’s full-service carrier Vistara scheduled direct daily flights between Malé and New Delhi starting from 1 October. 

“We are thrilled to introduce direct connectivity between Delhi and Malé – our second route to the exquisite beach destination, in addition to Mumbai-Malé,” said Vinod Kannan, Chief Executive Officer of Vistara. 

“This new route will enable us to provide our customers with enhanced access to one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations while also imparting further momentum to the existing bilateral cooperation between India and the Republic of Maldives. With our state-of-the-art product and intuitively thoughtful services, we are certain that our customers will appreciate the choice of flying India’s best airline on this new route.”

India is the second largest source market to the Maldives with 131,926 tourist arrivals as of 23 August. 

Wednesday, August 30

Monday, August 28

Inflation stood at 2.38% in July in annual terms with a 0.06% rise from the previous month, down from 0.10% in June.

The Consumer Price Index for food and beverages remained high at 4.49% from the same period last year.

“Passenger transport by sea and inland waterway shows the largest price hike in this month at +13.57%, followed by Vegetables at +4.17%. Other notable increases were in Fruit at +0.93%, Fish at +0.33%, Passenger transport by road at +1.30% and Food products n.e.c at +0.36%,” according to the statistics bureau.

“The largest price drops in July were seen in Electricity at – 3.19%, Passenger transport by air at -2.78%, Mobile com- munication services at -1.17%, Water Supply at –1.10%, Furniture, furnishings and loose carpets at -0.47% and In- ternet access provision services and net storage services at -0.29%.”

Monday, August 28

The government divested its 30% stake in the Shangri-La Villingili resort in Addu City.

Speaking to the press after an amended lease agreement was signed with Addu Investment Pvt Ltd, Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom said the government hopes relinquishing its shares would facilitate the reopening of the resort.

The Villingili Resort & Spa in the southernmost atoll was shut down due to the pandemic in April 2020.

Built on one of the largest islands in the Maldives at 50 hectares, the resort comprises of 132 luxury overwater, private beach, tropical tree house villas and two presidential villas as well as six restaurants and bars, an award-winning spa, two tennis courts, three natural lagoons and a nine-hole golf course.

Villingili can be reached either via a 70-minute flight from the Velana International Airport or a five-minute speedboat ride from Gan International Airport in Addu

In February last year, Mausoom told parliament that the government was in the process of selling its stake in the resort.

“Under the agreement with Addu Investment Pvt Ltd, in a situation where the resort faces a loss, the government has to participate in the loan issued for financing the loss. As such, the government now owes US$68 million to the company as loan financing,” he said at the time.

Saturday, August 26

The Maldives Monetary Authority officially launched  the ‘Favara’ instant payment system, enabling quick domestic transfers between banks.

Favara – which also offers sending requests to pay, account verification to ensure the correct recipient and smart addressing for easy user identification – is currently available through the internet and mobile banking services of the Bank of Maldives, Maldives Islamic Bank and the State Bank of India.

More than MVR10 million (US$648,500) worth of transactions were recorded by Monday afternoon.

Connections to the national payment systems of other countries under the second phase of the project will allow the use of online payment systems such as Paypal for the first time, according to the central bank. 

Saturday, August 26