Diplomacy Politics

After previous regime’s China-fueled debt binge, Maldives seeks India’s help

solih maldives

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (left) while taking the oath | Photo Credit: AP

New Delhi: Saddled with debt left behind by the previous Abdulla Yameen government, the newly-elected Maldives government seeks India’s help for its development goals. Maldives’ foreign minister Abdulla Shahid told TOI that the new government there is trying to assimilate the quantum of debt as official government figures do not “tally with that of Chinese estimates”.

Shahid said Male is looking for India’s assistance for initial management of any shortfall that the government might face. The Maldives is positive that India is equipped to help the former to deal with issues like fresh water scarcity, sewage and healthcare, Shahid was quoted by reports as saying.

The Maldives owes nearly 70 per cent of its debt to China, as per reports.

Shahid is expected to hold talks with his India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday and is expected to talk to PM Narendra Modi. Maldives’ newly-elected President Ibrahim Solih will visit India next month.

The previous regime gave sovereign guarantees to not only state entities but also private enterprises and individuals exacerbating the problem and the huge debt has not translated into projects, Shahid reportedly said.

PM Modi attended President Mohamed Solih’ swearing-in ceremony on November 17, 2018, in Male.  Modi hailed Maldives electoral process for embodying “the collective aspirations of the people of the Republic of the Maldives for democracy, rule of law and a prosperous future”.

Last week, Male pulled out of free trade agreement with China. The head of the largest party in the ruling alliance said such an agreement is not conducive given the gap in the massive gap in the size of the economies of the two countries. “The trade imbalance between China and the Maldives is so huge that nobody would think of an FTA between such parties,” said Mohamed Nasheed, head of Maldivian Democratic Party which rules the alliance. “China is not buying anything from us. It is a one-way treaty.”

Solih in his swearing-in ceremony said that the state coffers have been “looted” and said the country faces as financial hardship after accumulating huge debt from Chinese lenders.

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Source URL: Google News

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