Martin Raiser, the World Bank Vice President for South Asia, has concluded a four-day visit to the Maldives, underscoring the World Bank’s ongoing commitment to supporting the nation’s development goals. The partnership, spanning over four decades, has witnessed significant strides in sectors such as health, education, housing, and public services.
During his visit, Raiser held discussions with key Maldivian officials, including President Dr Mohamed Muizzu, Finance Minister Dr Mohamed Shafeeq, Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim, and Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed. The meetings focused on the Maldives’ development achievements and upcoming challenges, particularly in terms of fiscal sustainability and environmental resilience.
Raiser emphasized the critical need for fiscal reforms to address risks associated with increased spending, limited foreign exchange reserves, high debt levels, and the impact of global interest rates. Urgent measures, such as containing non-essential spending, enhancing revenue generation, and managing debt more effectively, were stressed as essential for creating fiscal space needed for sustained investment in human capital, natural resources, and infrastructure.
The visit saw the launch of the first-ever Human Capital Review for the Maldives, revealing regional and gender inequities despite the country’s higher human capital index. Raiser highlighted the importance of shifting from overall spending increases to prioritizing and targeting expenditures based on need, while also improving service quality, especially in less developed islands.
Climate change was another focal point, with Raiser emphasizing the interconnectedness of economic and climate crises. Collaborative efforts with the government, development partners, and the private sector were advocated to identify investment opportunities with economic, social, and environmental benefits.
The World Bank’s ongoing engagement in the Maldives includes a portfolio of 10 projects, financed by the International Development Association (IDA), spanning various sectors such as renewable energy, competitiveness and growth, youth resilience and employability, digital development, urban development, solid waste management, COVID-19 response, fisheries, labor, health, education, and social protection. Additionally, the World Bank provides analytical support across areas like macro-fiscal monitoring, financial sector analysis, social protection, and poverty reduction.