New Delhi, December 17 (Mihaaru): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced financial assistance of USD 1.4 billion in the form of budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit to fulfill socio-economic development programmes in the Maldives.
Modi declared the decision following the meeting with Maldives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, currently on his first diplomatic mission since his inauguration.
He said that the USD 800 million allocated for government projects is a Line of Credit arrangement, to be loaned by the Export-Import Bank of India at an interest rate of 1.5 percent. He added that Maldives Monetary Authority can use the remaining USD 400 million of India’s financial assistance as a currency swap instrument.
The new government of recently elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has commenced great efforts to strengthen the ties with India which had soured during the previous administration. The South Asian neighbor had notably granted free aid of USD 25 million (MVR 385.5 million) to Maldives last week.
Minister Ameer assured that the government will utilize the loans and credit facility granted by India such that it does not increase the national debt. He expressed his belief that the USD 150 million granted as treasury bond, which is to be repaid over the next two years, will also become free aid.
– Agreement on the Facilitation of Visa Arrangements
– Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation
– Memorandum of Understanding for establishing Mutual Cooperation to Improve the Ecosystem for Agribusiness
– Joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the field of Information, and Communications Technology and Electronics
This is President Solih’s first state visit to another country since his inauguration on November 17.
The Indian government facilitated private air transport for the couple and their entourage, comprising of Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, and Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail.
Solih on Importance of Maldives-India ties
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Sunday, stated that it is important to maintain Maldives-Indian ties for regional security.
President Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed departed to India on Sunday for a three-day state visit. During a meeting held with Maldivians living in New Delhi, the President stated that while the number of locals visiting India for various reasons is increasing, it is fundamental to strengthen the bilateral ties of the two countries.
According to President Solih, the protection of a small state such as Maldives require the assistance of international bodies. Additionally, he noted that in terms of foreign policy, Maldives places its highest goals to protect the sovereignty and national security of the country, adding that the nation will reinforce diplomatic ties without jeopardizing foreign policy.
“Increasing Maldives’ economic prosperity is Maldivian foreign policy’s second mandate. We have always recognized and thanked the countries who provided economic assistance”, said the President.
Furthermore, President Solih stated that India was the first country to develop ties with Maldives and that India is the closest and most well-wishing friend of the Maldives. President Solih guaranteed that his administration will strengthen the soured diplomatic relations the two countries faced during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s rule.
President Solih revealed the details surrounding the new VISA agreements between the two countries.
Benefits from the new VISA agreement:
– A 90-day visa will be issued for Maldivians traveling to India for medical, leisure or business related purposes. Such visas will be issued once per every 6-month period.
– If an individual visiting India on a tourist visa requires medical treatment, they can attain a medical visa without having to travel back to Maldives. In such cases, family members can apply for medical attendant visas.
– For long-term medical treatment in India, the Indian embassy located in Maldives, may issue visas valid up to a one-year period. In such cases, two caretakers will be issued medical attendant visas.
– Multiple entry student visas will be issued to students for the duration of their chosen courses.
– Parents can qualify for multiple entry visas to visit their underage children studying in India.
– Dependent visas and elderly dependent visas will be issued to underage children or elderly parents of Maldivian students in India.
– In addition to elderly dependent visas, students carrying out research or pursuing higher education in India will be allowed to bring spouses on family visas.
“We believe that this is not about a financial gain for India but rather a generous gift. On behalf of all Maldivians, I extend a very heartfelt appreciation for the current administration, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, said President Solih.
Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid stated that the impending visa agreement will be among the most lenient visa policies India has ever opted for and that it will ease difficulties faced by Maldivians travelling to India.
The agreement will be signed by the two countries on Tuesday.
The President has pledged to establish free healthcare for those residing in neighbouring countries through the national healthcare scheme ‘Aasandha’. Additionally, the President plans to extend Aasandha coverage to more areas of the world.
The incumbent has pledged to introduce a low-interest loan scheme in his ‘100-day’ pledges. The President also plans to implement a mechanism to ease the repayment of student loans.
(Visiting Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih being greeted in New Delhi by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi)