Would not have taken some loans if not for the pandemic, says minister

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has said that the government was forced to take certain loans due to the COVID-19 pandemic and would not have done so under other circumstances.

The minister was responding to a question by PPM's Vice-President and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam at the Parliament's Budget Committee of the Parliament.

The minister said the government was working to generate MVR 30 billion in revenue when it faced the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The state received about MVR 14 billion in revenue that year, he said, adding that loans were therefore taken to cover the expenses.

The minister further said the government spent the loan money directly to meet the needs of the people and to meet the expenditure of the state. The minister did not admit to wasteful expenditure.

The minister also responded to criticism that the budget has included a salary increase for health workers next year while the economy is yet to properly stabilize. He said when a student who has been studying medicine for seven or eight years is paid a salary of MVR 25,000, their services are not usually received. Therefore, such persons should be paid an adequate salary for their services, and the salaries of health workers are being increased after relevant studies, he said.

The government has decided to spend MVR 8.4 billion on PSIP or development projects in next year's budget. Minister Ameer said the PSIP budget would provide funds for health projects in the atolls. He said that water and sewerage will be established in all islands next year.

“There will also be an increase in the Maldives' productivity due to the projects allocated for the PSIP,” he said.