Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohammad Solih in a tweet said that “A landmark moment in Maldives-India cooperation today as we receive Indian assistance of USD250 million as budget support and USD500 million for the Greater Malé Connectivity Project. I thank PM @narendramodi and the Indian people for their generosity and friendship”
Yesterday, External affairs minister S Jaishankar over a virtual conversation with his Maldivian Counterpart Abdulla Shahid announced India’s decision to support the implementation of GMCP in Maldives, through a financial package consisting of a grant of USD 100 million and a new Line of Credit of USD 400 million.
EAM noted that this will be the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives, connecting its capital city Malé with three neighbouring islands. This landmark project will streamline connectivity between the 4 islands boosting economic activity, generating employment and promoting holistic urban development in the Malé region.
India has also decided to start air travel bubble between with Maldives to facilitate movement of people from both sides for employment, tourism, medical emergencies. Maldives is the first neighboring country with which an air bubble is being operationalized. The first flight under the Air Bubble is expected to commence on August 18.
EAM also conveyed the decision to renew quotas for supply of essential commodities to Maldives for the year 2020-21. The commodities include food items like potatoes, onions, rice, wheat, flour, sugar, dal and eggs as well as river sand and stone aggregates. The quotas assure food security, and the supply of essential construction items, and thereby provide certainty and price stability for such essential items in the Maldives.
During COVID-19 pandemic, when supply chains got disrupted, India continued to support the supply of essential food and construction materials to Maldives. In May 2020, India had also gifted 580 tons of essential food items through Mission SAGAR
India and Maldives have seen a dynamic and ambitious phase of the partnership in last couple of years. PM Modi and President Solih have met four times in the last one and-a-half years. EAM Jaishankar said that the ‘Neighbourhood First’ foreign policy of India and the ‘India First’ policy of Maldives complement each other and now demonstrate concrete outcomes. President Solih is likely to visit India later this year, subject to the Covid-19 related conditions.