Finance Minister: Last administration’s debt higher than ours

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

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has rejected claims the state had racked up more debt within three years of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih than during the full five years of his predecessor, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration. 

Ameer, who attended the parliamentary sitting on Wednesday morning to clarify details of the 2022 budget, said that various reports and charts were being manipulated to misrepresent the truth about the state’s debt. 

Ameer said that debts were usually recorded once it was dispensed, and that based on that, the former administration’s debt had been at an unprecedented level. 

According to Ameer, the state’s debt during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration had been MVR 6.2 billion, and the debt during President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration – up until his resignation in 2012 – had been MVR 11.3 billion, and the debt during President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s administration had been MVR 6.2 billion.  

He said the state’s debt during Yameen’s administration rose to MVR 39.6 billion. 

“They are making different articles, different charts. I just want to clarify this. We have recorded MVR 39.6 billion in debt directly attributed to President Yameen’s administration,” he said, adding that the debt included direct debt of the central government and sovereign guarantee debt. 

Ameer said that the state’s debt directly attributed to the current administration stands at MVR 34 billion. He said that the central bank has been directed to repay some of the debt. 

He also said that the signed loan debt was also higher during Yameen’s administration. 

“MVR 58.9 billion during President Yameen’s administration and MVR 51.1 billion during this administration. I believe it's very clear,” he said. 

Ameer said that the debt during Yameen’s administration had risen at a time when the global economy as well as the Maldivian economy had been performing well, whereas the current administration’s debt had risen at a time the world was experiencing an unprecedented pandemic. 

He said that the current administration’s debt had risen as a result of efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the debt would be put on a sustainable path with fiscal consolidation measures. 

Ameer said the administration was working on lowering the debt to 105 percent of the national GDP, and to 5 percent of the primary deficit GDP by year 2023.