Finance Minister says economy is on path of recovery, but warns there are risks

Tourists at Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Finance Minister Ibrahim has stated that the Maldivian economy is slowly recovering to the point where it was in 2019, before the pandemic ravaged the nation's economy. 

The Minister was speaking in a press conference today when he said that despite the positive recovery, there were still some risks ahead. Minister Ameer said that the current situation with COVID-19 was taking its toll on the tourism industry, however, based on the growth of the industry, it is projected that even more tourists than what was previously expected, would visit the nation in this year. 

The Minister said that it was previously assumed that just 600,00 tourists would come to the Maldives in 2021 when the budget was prepared. However, based on the latest projections, the figure has now been revised to more than a million tourists. 

"Currently, it is estimated that around 1-1.5 million tourists would visit the Maldives in 2021," said the Minister in today's press conference. 

The Minister said that it was estimated that the Maldivian tourism industry would recover to the point where it was before the pandemic, in the early days of 2022. 

Looking at the economic growth, the Minister said that the current growth figures exceeded previous expectations. It is now estimated that the economic growth would be between 13.5-34.1 percent, according to the Minister. 

The Minister attributed the positive figures to the boost injected into the tourism industry as the Maldives began receiving vaccines against COVID-19, in addition to the economic stimulus packages and relief loans. He expected the Maldives to fully overcome the recession in 2022 or 2023. 

Finance Minster Ibrahim Ameer during a meeting with the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee on August 27, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moos)

The Minister, in today's presser, also highlighted on unemployment figures of the Maldives. He admitted that the pandemic had caused unemployment figures to swivel upwards, but noted that the figures had once again dwindled down to the point where they were in 2019. He said that the figure of those registered to receive income support at the Job Center had also started to go down starting from November. 

"We have observed that the Maldivian economy is slowly recovering to the point where it was in 2019 before the pandemic," said the Minister. 

He said that the Maldives would be one of the first nations of its kind to bounce back from the pandemic, according to experts. However, he stressed that the current situation had to be maintained in order to bring this to fruition. 

"The Maldivian economy has now recovered even better since March. However, I will make an appeal. To sustain this, we have to manage the current risks. The most important one is to control COVID-19 and reduce the number of positive cases. Or else, we cannot save our lives or our livelihoods. So, the most important thing is to reduce the positive cases," said the Minister. 

The Minister was speaking during the height of a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the Maldives. Positive case numbers have skyrocketed since early May and there are more than 24,000 active cases. 150 people have died from the virus with more than 70 deaths recorded in this month alone.