Vienna, Austria – Bank of Maldives (BML) has signed a US$10 million private sector loan agreement with OPEC Fund for International Development.
According to OPEC Fund for International Development, the loan will be used for on-lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in tourism and related services in the Maldives that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the announcement of securing the loan, Bank of Maldives CEO and Managing Director Tim Sawyer commented saying that the funding came at an opportune time as BML was reinforcing resources for their COVID-19 response for the tourism and business sectors severely affected by the pandemic.
He also added that BML took the lead in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 for businesses and that the support from the OPEC Fund would aid their efforts as the country continues on its road to recovery.
OPEC Fund Director-General Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa also commented on the loan stating that Bank of Maldives is in a strong position to support the tourism industry and local businesses, who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that their loan will help to revive businesses and sustain jobs that are critical for the stability of the local economy.
This comes while the Maldivian government expects that favourable economical developments in 2022 and 2023 will result in overcoming the recession and a return to 2019 levels of economic activity.
At a media briefing held on May 23, 2021, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer stated that the Maldives is comparatively ahead in economic recovery in regards to countries in similar situations . He said this has been widely recognised by the global community.
The economy has recovered to some extent due to various disease management steps according to the Minister. He disclosed that one such step was the start of vaccination efforts, which was followed by a large boom in tourism.
Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) had also revealed that the occupancy rate in the tourism sector of Maldives has increased to 51% in April 2021 compared to the same period of last year. MMA revealed that in April 2021, both the tourist arrivals and bed nights increased in annual terms with a growth of 84% and 42% in March 2021, respectively.
While Maldives aims to achieve 1.5 million tourist arrivals in 2021 with vigorous promotional campaigns, the island nation currently has 162 resorts/marinas, 12 hotels, 696 guesthouses, and 159 safari vessels in operation.