Speaking at the close of the 2010 Maldives Donor Conference, Vice President Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan announced that the government has received pledges of support totalling US$313 million for a period of three years.
The crowded hall of donors at Bandos Island Resort and Spa included delegations from countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan and Norway, as well as international financial groups such as the International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank and the sovereign wealth Abu Dhabi Fund. A breakdown of the pledges is not currently available, Minivan News was told, as several donor countries had requested time to consult their home agencies before solidifying the figure.
In the run-up to the donor conference the government identified key priority areas for investment, alongside budgetary support: macro economic reform, public sector reform, good governance, social development and climate change.
“I am grateful for the confidence you have shown in our country,” Dr Hassan told the donors. “This conference has been an opportunity for us to listen to donors’ views, and we have identified ways to up our coordination and cooperation with the donor community,” he said.
The government had been aiming for US$450 million, he said, although several senior government officials later told Minivan News that they considered “60-80 per cent of that target” a major success. Furthermore, they claimed, a great deal of ‘behind-the-scenes’ negotiations over the two day event would likely lead to further commitments.
There was, Dr Hassan said in his address, “an abundance of goodwill and more assistance will be forthcoming with more follow up from our side.”
He promised donors the government would “work with you to strengthen our management system”, and said the participation of donors was “a vote of confidence in this government and our strong democratic mandate.”
“You have heard about many of the challenges over the past two days. The fact that drug addiction is the biggest problem among our young. The fact that clean water is still a challenge on many islands. The fact that reducing the soaring budget deficit has been painful in an economy over-dependent on government expenditure,” Dr Hassan said.
Furthermore, he said, “democracy remains fragile in the Maldives. We must work to guard the civil society and protect the freedom of the press. We must work hard to consolidate our hard earned freedom. Much progress has been made. But more work needs to be carried out, and we cannot deliver this vital thing on our own.”
In his closing comments, Dr Hassan acknowledged that the Maldives was known around the world less for its social and economic challenges, “and more for our commitment to confronting the issue of climate change – our commitment to carbon neutrality is the strongest in the world.”
“Although we are a very vulnerable country to sea level rise I should make clear that we are not going anywhere. Not yet.”
The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dr Peter Hayes said he commended the Maldives “on the significant progress it has achieved as a young democracy working in a challenging economic climate.”
“In an era where international partnerships are vital, I welcome the proactive approach to international engagement the Maldives has taken,” Dr Hayes said.