Swedish Ambassador accredited to the Maldives, Lars-Olof Lindgren, has acknowledged that the Maldives’ 2011 graduation to the UN’s definition of a middle income country will affect its ability to seek financial development assistance.
Lindgren, who is based at Sweden’s embassy in New Delhi, observed during a brief meeting with local media yesterday that his own government “has very strict of GDP per-capita criteria and has decided to focus its aid elsewhere on least developed countries, particularly in Africa.”
The Maldives this year became one of only three countries to graduate from the UN’s definition of ‘Least Development’, since the introduction of the term. As a consequence, the Maldives loses access to both concessional credit, certain trade concessions, and some of the foreign aid upon which aspects of the country – such as civil society – have historically depended on for both skills and financial support.
A World Bank Economic Update Report released in November 2010 showed a per capita Gross Net Income (GNI) for the country of US$4090 for 2010, up from US$3690 in 2009.
“In one sense this graduation not been positive in this respect,” Lindgren said. “At the same time, certainly I think we have to look at other aspects of the Maldives – the fact the country taking first steps as a democratic country, steps towards getting the party system to work – that is one reason why the international community should support this – support not only government, but the whole society.”
There was also potential for countries such as Sweden with experience in high-tech renewable technology to work together with the Maldives on tackling climate change, Lindgren added.
Swedish involvement in the Maldives so far had been “not very impressive”, he admitted, “although Swedish companies do have investments in the country in things like logistics and domestic transport.”
“But I think we could do a lot more together on the environment, particularly with regards to renewable energy and energy efficiency. We have a lot of experience high technology, and a long tradition of doing these things with results. For example, we have done a lot to keep our homes warm using insulation – in the Maldives it is a matter of keeping the cold inside. There’s a lot to be gained by doing it efficiently.”