Male: – India disbursed an aid of USD 25 crores to the Maldives, on Sunday. India is providing this assistance to recover the Maldivian economy, which crashed due to the Coronavirus crisis. It was revealed that the Maldivian economy, entangled in the Chinese debt trap, was sinking. The Maldives fears that it will be in the situation similar to Sri Lanka if it fails to come out of this problem. Against this background, the Indian aid to the Maldives becomes essential.
On Sunday, a cheque for USD 25 crores was handed over in the presence of Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, Indian High-commissioner to Maldives Sanjay Sudhir and the Chief of State Bank of India in Male. The tourism business in the Maldives has crashed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has severely rocked the Maldivian economy, utterly dependent on tourism revenues. To recover from this crisis, Maldives had appealed to India for aid. Maldivian President Solih held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
Thereafter, India provided a loan of USD 25 crores to the Maldives. No conditions have been imposed by India for the loan. The Maldives has to repay the loan in ten years. India clarified that this kind of aid has been provided only to the Maldives. India has said that this assistance falls under the Neighbourhood First policy.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Shahid thanked India for providing financial assistance during the Coronavirus crisis. Foreign Minister Shahid said ‘India is an adorable friend for the Maldives. Coronavirus forced all the countries to take tough decisions like lockdown. Airline services were suspended. But despite the closure of borders, India proved that the doors to the heart could not be closed by the virus, through this aid in difficult times.’ He also reminded that Prime Minister Modi had said that the depth of the India-Maldives friendship is like the Indian Ocean.
Only two days ago, concerns were expressed in the Maldivian parliament, regarding the increasing Chinese debt burden. GDP of Maldives is USD 4.9 billion, and the loans are to the tune of USD 3.1 billion. The Maldives is entangled in the Chinese debt trap. Fears are being expressed that if this is not corrected in time, Maldives will go on the same track as Sri Lanka. The Maldivian economy has collapsed under this debt burden. In this scenario, the government headed by President Solih is looking at India with a lot of hope. The Maldives borrowed all these funds from China during the tenure of Abdulla Yameen, and the ill effects are visible now.
Meanwhile, India-Maldives cargo services are starting on Monday. The service will run from Tamil Nadu to Cochin to the Maldives. There will be two to three trips per month. Confidence is being expressed that this will increase tourism and connectivity between India and Maldives.