Insight Online News
New Delhi, Aug 2 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Tuesday agreed to further deepen institutional linkages for cooperation in the areas of defence and security, investment promotion, human resource development, infrastructure development including climate and energy.
Both leaders welcomed the growth in people-to-people ties through implementation of visa-free travel, better air connectivity, exchange programmes, and growing cultural and economic links, the joint statement issued read.
India has emerged as the top source for the Maldivian tourism market, contributing to economic resilience.
The leaders acknowledged the role of the bilateral air travel bubble, created during the pandemic, in the expansion of tourism ties.
The two leaders welcomed the ongoing work to operationalise the usage of Rupay Cards in Maldives and agreed to consider further measures to boost bilateral travel and tourism and economic inter-linkages, the joint statement said.
They also acknowledged the valuable contribution of Indian teachers, nurses, medical workers, doctors, workers, and professionals in the Maldives.
According to the statement, they welcomed the recent launch of National Knowledge Network in Maldives and directed the officials to work towards expanding its reach within the country.
The two leaders also welcomed the engagement among business leaders from both countries during the visit, noting that fisheries, infrastructure, renewable energy, tourism, health, and IT among others were key sectors for greater economic linkages between the two countries through cross-border investments and partnerships.
Both leaders acknowledged India’s potential as a frontier market for Maldivian tuna products under the SAFTA.
Modi and Solih noted the operations of the direct cargo vessel service between India and Maldives since September 2020 and desired that the service become an enabler of increased bilateral trade.
The joint statement said that the two leaders reviewed the remarkable progress achieved in the development partnership domain despite the Covid-19 pandemic and other global economic challenges.
India-Maldives development partnership has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and covers large infrastructure projects, community-level grant projects and capacity building programmes which are based purely on requirements of the Maldives, implemented through transparent processes and in a spirit of cooperation between the two governments.
Both leaders participated in the virtual “pouring of the first concrete” ceremony of the $500 million Greater Male’ Connectivity Project being built under grant and concessional loan support from India.
The two leaders directed the officials to ensure timely completion of this largest landmark infrastructure project in Maldives – that will enhance mobility between Male’, Villingili, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi islands, cut down logistics cost and drive people-centric economic growth- which will be a symbol of enduring friendship between the two countries.
Prime Minister Modi announced offer of a new GoI line of credit of $100 million to finance infrastructure projects in Maldives.
Solih thanked India for this offer and expressed confidence that this additional fund would enable implementation of several large infrastructure projects that have been under various stages of discussion.
The joint statement further said that both leaders reviewed the progress achieved in the development of the 4,000 social housing units being built in Greater Male under Buyer’s Credit financing of Exim Bank of India.
These housing units are in line with the Government of Maldives’ focus of providing affordable housing for its citizens.
The two leaders also welcomed the approval of Exim Bank of India Buyer’s Credit funding of USD 119 mn for construction of another 2000 social housing units in Greater Male and exchange of a Letter of Intent to this effect between Exim Bank of India and the Government of Maldives.
Solih expressed appreciation to the Government of India for the generous assistance for additional housing units.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in other Indian funded projects including the Addu Roads project, provision of water and sewerage facilities at 34 islands, and restoration of Hukuru Miskiy (Friday Mosque).
The two leaders also welcomed final approval of the Indian side for signing of the Hanimaadhoo Airport Development project EPC contract and expressed happiness that implementation would commence shortly.
They noted with satisfaction the finalisation of the feasibility report of the Cancer Hospital building project in Laamu and its financial closure through India’s line of credit.
Both leaders also welcomed the positive contribution to island communities from the 45 Community Development Projects, being implemented through grant assistance from India.