Half of workers in Maldives are foreigners: Economic Development Minister

Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed has said that there are over 116,000 expatriates working in the Maldives, amounting 50 percent of the working population.

Speaking at an event held to celebrate the inauguration of a programme to train 2000 salespeople, Saeed said that 81,000 Maldivians are currently registered as employed at the pensions office – equal to 23 percent of the population.

The preliminary results of last year’s census officially recorded the number of foreign workers at 58,000, though the government has previously admitted the figure to be much higher, even after the removal of 8000 undocumented workers last year.

Saeed noted that while 81,000 expatriates in the Maldives worked with proper visa and documentation, approximately 35,000 were working illegally, reported Haveeru, costing the Maldivian economy MVR1.28 billion (US$83 million) annually.

The government’s drive to build the economy on ‘Maldivian work for Maldivians’ has seen a restriction on foreign photographers working in the country, while it will be illegal to hire expatriates as cashiers from April onwards.

Saeed is reported to have told those in attendance yesterday that Maldivians must be willing to work in all types of job.

“Maldivians need to make jobs a high priority. One can’t be a resort owner in one day,” he said.

“A road sweeper could become a manager of a big office tomorrow. You need courage to be successful,” said the waiter turned cabinet minister, sharing his personal story of success.

He stated that the economic growth for this year “stands at 10.4 percent”. Figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority estimate last year’s growth as 8.5 percent.

Youth employment has been a major focus of the Yameen administration, which has pledged to create 94,000 new jobs during its five year term.

Local youth-led NGO Democracy House states unemployment among the youth (aged 15-24) may be as high as 43 percent, with the group having highlighted a “disconnect” between the current school curriculum and life skills.

While the government has established a youth unemployment register with 13,000 individuals, youth minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal has reported complaints from businesses about individuals failing to attend interviews and quitting jobs within a few weeks.

Former Maldives Airports Company Ltd head Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem – dismissed last month – told a Majlis committee in December that difficulties with local staff had resulted in a dependence on foreign employees, to keep the international airport running.

Also speaking at yesterday’s ceremony, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad suggested that the government’s Special Economics Zone (SEZ) Act would also create large numbers of jobs.

“36 percent of the Maldivian population is the youth,” Haveeru reported Jihad as saying. “The SEZs is an example of how much the government prioritises the youth’s welfare”.

The controversial legislation, which promises to deregulate as-yet unspecified areas of the country in order to attract foreign investors was passed in August last year.

Despite a lack of investments having resulted as yet, governing coalition leader Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam claimed last weekend that the government would bring investments, the likes of which the country had not seen before.



Related to this story

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Almost 8,000 undocumented workers deported, says defence minister

Economic Ministry stops issuing work permits to foreign photographers

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11 thoughts on “Half of workers in Maldives are foreigners: Economic Development Minister”

  1. Pay peanuts and u get monkeys.. and why are you surprised that half the workers are foreigners.

    Lacking workplace democracy, why would Maldivian want work in their own country as slaves under corrupt systems.

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  2. Half of all workers in Maldives are foreigners because Maldivians lack the education and training required for skilled jobs.

    You can't seriously expect tuna fisherman to perform heart bypass surgery, teach advanced mathematics or programme a computer system. You need brains for that.

    Instead of constantly disparaging expats, be grateful for the skilled workers from India.

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  3. This is guy who is a political prostitute . He was appointed as Minister on JP slot then switched the party.

    This is a guy who got all his education from Gasim and turned a blind eye against the person who feeder him.

    This is guy who does not know basic principle economy and yet then Minister.

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  4. @Miss India ND

    So one a fakir in loin cloth can 'perform heart bypass surgery, teach advanced mathematics or programme a computer system'

    Thanks for enlightening.

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  5. @ thanks
    You don't need qualifications for repairing roads, cleaning toilets, organising parasailing, snorkelling and jetski activities, answering the phone, serving food and beverages, cleaning chalets, making up beds and removing the garbage.

    Maldivians are eminently suitable for these low IQ activities. Leave bypass surgery, teaching maths and computer programming to the Indians. I hope you are able to read this. If not ask an Indian to explain.

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  6. @MissIndia.
    why Indian are coming to work in Maldives. Answer is simple. They are getting better wages and salaries and they want a better life for their families .

    You should spend all your time to engaged those 60% of your population who are deprived from basic health, education . Those people have no access to clean water, toilets, education and health facilities .

    Those people contribute over 60% of your population and they are living in rural area where there is not electricity.

    Don't think we don't know that.

    no mater what the corrupt GMR and its associates thinks , MissIndia Thug Agrwal will not be allowed to bring GMR back to our soil.

    You can dream and you can keep on praying you God " Bloody Cow" who is completely useless to get help from .

    You sadist and brainless cow worshipers will not be allowed to operate our airport

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  7. What negativity from one country to another..no wonder the world is going to hell this way..hating is the only thing people seem to be good at

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  8. Wonder what this man can do as Economic Minister when he got his Masters in tourism something. However he is very qualified to be a boy of this government.

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  9. Maybe he was referring to Suntravel Shiyam who became a resort owner in one day. Well, Shiyam got hell of a lot of interest free money which he was allowed to pay back at his own sweet convenience, from STO while Yamin was the chairman there.

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  10. Unfortunately some Maldivians refuse to work because they see the job as 'dirty' and something they do not want to do, if you want to get jobs then apply and work your way up.... too true you cannot be a waiter one week and a resort manager the next just does not happen - unless you have connections within the government then it might!!!!

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