Male, February 22 (newsin.asia): Maldives will be receiving US$ 3.4 billion in foreign investment in the tourist and non-tourist sectors in the next five years, President Abdulla Yameen told parliament here on Wednesday.
“In the next five years US$ 1.6 billion is to be invested, through 40 foreign investments registered last year in the tourism industry. And from industries other than tourism, 50 investments have been registered, representing an investment of US$ 1.8 billion over the next five years,” Yameen said.
The economic growth rate had increased from 6.2% in 2016 to 6.9% in 2017, “which is a testament to the speed at which our economy is growing,” the President said.
More than 76,000 new jobs have already been created for youth. “This has been possible due to the growth of the economy,” the President stated.
Expanding on tourism, Yameen said: “In the past year, tourist arrivals in the Maldives have increased by 8%, with more than 1.3 million tourists visiting. This is a huge achievement for our tourism,” he added.
2018 will see the inauguration of 24 islands which had been leased for tourism purposes. Together with two new city-hotels, the number of beds in the country will increase to more than 5,300.
As at the end of 2017, the per capita GDP stood at US$ 9,671. The national reserves stood at US$ 586.2 million at the end of 2017, but this is expected to increase to US$ 600 million this year .Yameen said.
A substantial sum of the US$ 160 million loan, given by the Governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, will be utilized to develop the fisheries industry, to the benefit of fishermen, including through modernized fishing vessels, the President said.
Mariculture business projects, such as the bait production project worth US$ 11 million launched last year, have been initiated by the Government to expand and diversify the fisheries industry, reducing its on one type of fishing.
The government has also decided to provide fishermen with vessel locating devices for their fishing fleets, free of charge, to ensure and ease their burden of compliance to our fishing regulations.
Fifty eight individuals have been granted loans to increase participation of young fishermen and captains in the fisheries industry. One hundred and fifteen individuals based in rural islands, have also received loans to start sea cucumber farming businesses.
Boost For Farming
Since last year, under the policy to reduce the number of imported goods to the Maldives, farmers are being encouraged to produce similar products. Work is underway to create a loan scheme, where up to MVR 6 million will be made available to farmers to farm these products.
“Hopefully, we will decrease the import of such goods by 25% by increasing production to 1,866 tons of produce which will make its way to our markets,” Yameen said.
New Roads, Harbors and Airports
Forty-five kms of roads are being constructed in the nine most populated islands in the Maldives. Road construction work will continue in 12 more islands until the end of this year.
The harbors of forty-eight islands have now been completed and the construction of harbors in 30 more islands will be concluded by the end of this year.
“This will solve the difficulties inherent to boarding and disembarking to and from sea travel vessels, for seventy-eight islands,” the President said.
Harbor development projects, including dredging projects, are also underway in 31 islands and these have been equipped with harbor entrance lights.
“Thus, over the past five years we have solved the problem of sea transport for 109 out of 187 inhabited islands,” Yameen said.
Work is on to establish airports at H.DhKulhudhuffushi, Sh. Funadhoo, N. Maafaru and G.Dh Maavaarulu to be completed within this year.
“We expect these efforts to ease domestic transport in the Maldives. Further, in order to create job opportunities for our youth and expand tourism to all regions, work will also commence to establish an airport near H.A. Hoarafushi this year,” the President said.
Social Welfare Projects
Turning to social welfare projects, the President said: that the ‘HIYA’ (‘Shelter’), the biggest housing project launched by the government this year, to be completed next year, is expected to provide housing to more than 160,000 people residing in the Maldives.
This project will cover part of the 240 hectares of land that was reclaimed under the Hulhumalé Phase II project. In addition to the expansion of the greater Malé area, 311 hectares of land have been reclaimed in 9 rural islands. This is an area equivalent to 20 islands.
Accent On Digital Education
Digital technology will be introduced to support teaching and learning ,Yameen said.
“By the beginning of the second term for this academic year, all schools will have Wi-Fi and all students from grades 1 to 12 will receive computer tablets. The Maldives will be the first country to educate all its students in this way. Students who graduate from our schools will be technologically literate. As such their odds of succeeding in the work place in the 21st century would be higher,” he said.
Facilitating Tertiary Education
The percentage of students in tertiary education has increased from the 19% ,4 years ago, to 32% ,the President said and added: “The government aims to increase enrolment in tertiary education to 60% by 2022.”
“ The percentage of students who sat for O’level exams and passed in 5 subjects last year, have increased to 77%. This is a percentage increase of 28% compared to 2013,” he said.
Better Health Facilities
In the past four years, up-to-date water systems have been established in twenty-two islands ,the President said. This year, work is expected to start on establishing such systems in twenty-four more islands.
The price of providing water in the atolls has been reduced and from 1 January 2018 we have equalized the price of water in the atolls with that of Malé. In the past four years, water storage facilities have been established in twenty-nine islands, while 2018 will see the establishment of these systems in an additional eighty-six islands.
Once this work has been completed, we will have a permanent
solution to the water shortage problems being faced by some islands from time to time.
More and Better Hospitals
The 25-storey ‘Dharumavantha Hospital’ will open this year. Inclusive of a diagnostic center and an increased bed capacity of 500, it will provide new and improved health care services for the country ,Yameen said.
Previously unavailable health care services in the Maldives have been introduced over the past three years. The National Cardiac Centre established in 2016 has now enabled 5,300 heart disease patients to receive treatment.
Since November 2013, the government’s renal disease treatment guarantee policy has seen the introduction of dialysis services in six atolls. 44 individuals have also had government funded kidney transplant operations abroad over the past four years.
Consultations with oncologists and chemotherapy services are available at the specialist cancer center established in Hulhumalé. Cancer treatment is also available at clinics in the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and the Vilimalé hospital.
The tertiary hospital to be opened in Addu City this year will have a bed capacity of 100. Thalassemia screening services will also be available this year in hospitals across the country
Maldives’ First Medical College
The first ever medical college in the Maldives will be established this year ,the President said.
Students will have the opportunity to do their medical internships at IGMH,allowing them to reside in their motherland with their families.
Over the past four years, sewerage systems have been established in twenty-one islands, while this infrastructure will be further developed in forty-two more islands over the course of this year, the President said.
“Thus, by the end of 2018, 75% of the Maldivian population will have sewerage systems,” he promised.
Drastic Reduction in Crime
The first-ever technical assessment of crime in the country, based on crime statistics for the past 9 (nine) years, was undertaken in 2017. The findings of this study show that the crime rate has reduced by 35% over the past four years, President Yameen said.
(The featured image at the top shows President Abdulla Yameen in parliament with the Speaker by his side)