Government working on increasing freelancers’ loan limit to MVR 30,000

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has stated the government was working on increasing the limit on relief loans to self-employed individuals including freelance workers to MVR 30,000.

SME Development Finance Corporation (SDFC) had rolled out the COVID-19 Viyafaari Ehee, a loan product designed to aid SMEs and self-employed individuals facing cashflow constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic in April.

It is a component of the economic recovery package announced by Finance Ministry.

According to SDFC, people who are self-employed or work as freelancers are eligible to maximum MVR 18,000.

Only those who have worked for six of the last 12 months, and earned a verifiable income during that period are eligible for the loan.

Minister Fayyaz sat down for a Zoom meeting with photography and videography professionals on Sunday. The meeting was initiated by them to voice concerns of self-employed individuals in general.

At the meeting, Fayyaz acknowledged the MVR 18,000 loan limit to be low. He said that government officials had been discussing increasing the loan limit even prior to the lockdown, and were now discussing increasing the limit to MVR 30,000.

“We expect a decision to be finalized within this week,” he said.

Fayyaz added that self-employed individuals would also be eligible for the unemployment allowance announced by the government. The government has announced it will provide a monthly allowance of MVR 5,000 to people who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic for three months.

“The amount is low. I acknowledge this. But we want to offer something,” said Fayyaz.

Fayyaz said that he, however, was not support in support of providing unemployment allowance to those who had been granted relief loans.

He said the Maldives had some 100,000 self-employed individuals, and that the government was working on supporting as many and as fairly as they could.

However, the government also faces certain legal and other constraints, he said.

Fayyaz said the government had sought counsel from the Attorney General regarding easing the self-employed verification process.

He said the opportunity to apply for the government’s grant and loan schemes remained open to all.

The Zoom meeting was initiated following discussions within a Viber group with over 240 photography and videography professionals.