World Bank awards $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 totaling $34 million (MVR 524 million) to strengthen the pension and security schemes of 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 Malé by the Honorable Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance, and Faris H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The Maldives and the World Bank have enjoyed a strong partnership for 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 the Maldives. “As we envision a brighter future for our country and our people, the two grants will give us the fiscal space to launch social protection programs and leverage new technologies to accelerate our growth and development.”

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

A $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 national identification systems to facilitate services and online transactions. In addition, the project will improve climate-related data and analysis by tracking emissions, deploying modern technologies such as drones, and more effectively using existing data for policy-making. The project will help government and businesses make informed decisions in managing and protecting the coral reefs and marine ecosystems of the Maldives.

“The World Bank is pleased to support the people of the Maldives with these two grants we signed today. This funding will help the government protect workers from future economic shocks and help those who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic re-enter the workforce,” Faris said. H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “It will also help harness the power of digital technologies to help protect the beautiful Maldivian 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 Maldives Communications Authority, National Information Technology Center and the Department of National Registration.

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Joel C. Hicks