World Bank Provides US$34 million in Grants to Improve Social Protection for Workers and Accelerate Digital Development

The Government of Maldives and the World Bank today signed two grant agreements totalling US$34 million (MVR524 million) to strengthen pension and safety nets for Maldivian workers and improve their employability, and to leverage digital technologies for development and climate resilience.

The grant agreements were signed at the Ministry of Finance in Male’ by Honorable Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance, and Faris H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The Maldives and World Bank has enjoyed a strong partnership spanning over four decades and across a wide range of sectors such as fisheries, renewable energy, education, financial management,” said Hon. Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance of Maldives. “As we look towards a better future for our country and our people, the two grants will give us the fiscal space to kick-start social protection programs, and to leverage new technologies to accelerate our growth and development.”

A US$24 million grant for the Sustainable and Integrated Labor Services (SAILS) project will help the government establish an unemployment insurance scheme and an employment services scheme. Employers and employees will contribute jointly to a fund that will pay unemployment benefits. Safety nets for workers are currently limited to pensions, leaving them vulnerable to external shocks. The SAILS project will also provide counselling, job search assistance, training and coaching to assist jobseekers.

A US$10 million grant for the Digital Maldives for Adaptation, Decentralization and Diversification project will help the government promote competition in the broadband market through regulation and modernize the national identification systems to facilitate online services and transactions. In addition, the project will improve climate-related data and analytics by tracking emissions, deploying modern technologies such as drones, and using existing data more efficiently for policymaking. The project will help government and businesses make informed decisions in managing and protecting the Maldives’ coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

“The World Bank is pleased to support the people of Maldives with these two grants we have signed today. This financing will help the government protect workers from future economic shocks and help those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic get back into the job market,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos, the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “It will also help harness the power of digital technologies to help protect the Maldives’ magnificent marine ecosystem on which so many Maldivians and their economy depend.”

The SAILS project will be jointly implemented by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Maldives Pension Administration Office. The Digital Maldives for Adaptation, Decentralization and Diversification Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, in partnership with the Communication Authority of Maldives, National Centre for Information Technology, and Department of National Registration.

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