Minister Ameer: Economic impact of Coronavirus, visible in a few months

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer during the Ministerial Questioning period of the Parliamentary session on February 12, 2020. (Photo/Parliament)

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has stated that the adverse effects of the Coronavirus on the economy will be evident after a few months.

The Minister was speaking in the Parliament today and answering a question by an MP when he stated that the Coronavirus now officially named as Covid-19 would indeed affect the Maldivian economy and that these effects would be visible after a few months.

Steps to reduce government expenditure have already been placed including curbing the recruitment of new employees, administrative and renovation costs.

The Minister stated today that the world economy would be affected by the outbreak citing economic experts. Even if the economies do not go into a recession, many countries would feel the economic impact of the outbreak on different levels. The Minister stated that it was difficult to predict what effect the virus would have on the Maldivian economy.

“I can estimate that the government income for this year would be lower. However, the picture would only be visible from the tax money after a few months.” said the Minister.

The Minister stated that China, where the virus originated, was the factory of world economies and anything that affected the Chinese economy, would, in turn, affect others. Since this does not exclude the Maldives, it had forced the government to cut down on expenditure, according to the Minister.

The Minister stated that the cost reduction steps would in no way halt any PSIP projects. The target was to lower the recurrent expenses such as administrative, transport and renovation costs, according to the Minister.

“We have no intention to halt any Public Service Investment Project. God willing, we will be able to continue with the budget the way it is.” said the Minister.

The Maldives is heavily reliant on its tourism industry, which has seen tens of thousands of bookings canceled due to the virus. Tourism Minister Ali Waheed last revealed that the number of bookings canceled stood at 24,000.

The Tourism Minister remained positive by saying that constructive efforts and steps by the government could see this loss recovered. The Minister also stated that he was still targeting 1.7 million tourist arrivals to the country in 2029 and 2.7 million in 2021.

Minister Ameer stated in today’s parliamentary session that the new bookings were being made as much as they were being canceled.