Maldives Holds Underwater Cabinet Meeting About Climate Change
The President of Maldives and his Cabinet ministers held an underwater meeting on Saturday October 17 to highlight the threat of global warming to their country.
Underwater Cabinet Meeting held in the Maldives
President Mohamed Nasheed together with his Cabinet ministers wore scuba gear and dove 6 meters below the surface of a lagoon to gather around underwater tables. At the meeting, the Cabinet signed an agreement calling for global cuts in carbon emissions that will be presented in the upcoming U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
“We are trying to send our message to let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the Maldives if something isn’t done about climate change,” Nasheed said.
Maldives People are All Going to Die
According to the Maldives government website, President Nasheed was asked what would happen if Copenhagen fails. “We are all going to die,” he replied.
After the dive, the ministers signed their wet suits which are being auctioned to raise funds for coral reef protection in the Maldives, according to the President’s official website.
The Maldives archipelago consists of almost 1,200 coral islands, located in the south of India and southwest of Sri Lanka. Most of it lies just 4.9 feet above sea level.
Rising Sea Levels Endanger the Maldives
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has forecast a rise in sea levels of at least 7.1 inches (18 cm) by the end of the century.
President Nasheed is hoping to set aside billions of dollars to buy a new homeland somewhere between Sri Lanka, India or Australia.
The Maldives will convene a summit next month of countries suffering some of the worst impacts of climate change ahead of a global conference on the issue in Copenhagen, government officials said.
The low-lying island nation has become a leading voice on the issue of global warming, even staging an underwater Cabinet meeting this month to express concerns about rising sea levels.
Government officials said Tuesday that the two-day conference starting Nov. 9 is meant to forge a common position for some of the world’s most vulnerable countries ahead of global talks in Copenhagen in December.
Those talks aim to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the first global agreement requiring modest reductions by industrialized countries in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases widely believed responsible for changing the earth’s climate.
Wealthy nations want broad emissions cuts from all countries, while poorer ones say industrialized countries should carry most of the burden.
“We have chosen island states and countries suffering from deforestation, glacial melting and desertification,” said Ahmed Naseem, the Maldives state minister for foreign affairs.
The Maldives conference is expected to include Bangladesh, Barbados, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Tuvalu and Vietnam.
The Maldives comprises 1,190 islands, 198 of which are inhabited and 95 are exclusive resort islands.
Maldives population is approximately 300,000, 103,000 of whom live on the capital island of Male.
As well as the standard population, the Maldives is home to an extra 80,000 expatriate workers.
Tourist arrivals are more than 680,000 annually.
2008 GDP was around $1.2 billion, ($3,900 per capita), which far exceedes the average of about $700 in the rest of South Asia.
GDP growth over the last ten years averaged around 6% per year except for 2005, when GDP declined following the Tsunami. In 2008, GDP growth was 5.7%.
Economic growth has occurred thanks mainly to tourism, transportation, communications and construction. Fishing is also an important economic sector.
Income disparity remains high in the Maldives, particularly between Male and the more distant islands.
The number of people enrolled in education has increased in recent years; the primary education rate is close to 100%. Literacy rates are about 98%. Infant and maternal mortality rates are declining rapidly.
The Tsunami’s Effects on Business
The 2004 tsunami in December 2004 devastated a lot of the Maldives; damage was estimated at $450 million. Thanks to tourism, the Maldivian economy was able to make a remarkably fast recovery. The development of new resorts was a large boost to the economy. Despite significant recent growth, the development of the Maldives has come at the cost of extremely high budget deficits and mounting foreign debt. Since 2004, government spending has increased rapidly to a remarkable 70% of GDP in 2008 and the budget deficit has expanded to 10% of GDP. International organisations like the IMF have urged the government to return to fiscal prudence quickly to ensure economic stability.
2008: The Maldives becomes a Democracy
The Maldives underwent significant change in 2008. With the election of President Mohammed Nasheed, the country launched a new constitution and several new laws, including a new employment act. Other campaign promises of the new President included creating a transport network between the islands, improved financial and political stability, reduced cost of living, eliminate illegal drugs and provide more affordable housing and healthcare.
2009 Economic Forecasts for the Maldives
The Maldives Central Bank forecasts 2009 GDP growth to be around 4.5%, although with the global recession, it is probable that the growth rate will indeed be less. The country’s trade deficit has increased in the last few years, owing to increased oil and construction material prices. In 2008, the trade deficit reached an estimated $900 million. However, this deficit was partially offset by tourism and government borrowing. The current account deficit was $637 million. The balance of payments recorded a deficit of about $72 million in 2008. The Maldives’ total external reserves stood at $241 million in December 2008 (2.1 months of imports). External debt and debt service have risen rapidly in recent years. Total external public debt was $477 million in 2008 and is likely to surpass $750 million in 2009. A foreign exchange shortage affecting businesses was reported as of March 2009.
Doing Business in the Maldives
In the “Ease of Doing Business Index” created annually by the World Bank, the Maldives is ranked 69 out of 181 countries. The “Ease of Doing Business Index” investigates laws and rulings that enhance or constrain business activity. Within the index, Maldives ranked first in terms of paying taxes (Maldives has no income or sales tax), fourth in employing workers, and eighth in dealing with construction licenses. But in terms of registering property, getting credit, and closing a business, the country ranked lower, at 177, 145, and 123, respectively. Other rankings were as follows: starting a business 38, protecting investors 70, trading across borders 121, and enforcing contracts 90.
List of Least Developed Countries
The Maldives is scheduled to be removed from the list of the Least Developed Countries in the world in the year 2011, but the country is aiming to delay this event, since it will make it harder for the country to access foreign aid, concessionary trade and finance programs, and would also threaten the fishing export industry.
Tourism Main Industry in the Maldives
Tourism is expected to continue as the most important sector in the Maldives’ economy. Despite imposing sea levels, new resorts are expected to be constructed in the Maldives, with 2 planned openings in the year 2009. A five-year plan announced in 2007 outlines the “National Development Plan”, during which time the country aims to improve tourism and infrastructure, modernize education and improve social security.
Foreign Investment in the Maldives
Foreign investment in Maldives is governed by Law 25/79, which governs agreements between the government and investors. Investment agreements are for an initial period of 5 to 10 years for investments less than $1 million, and can be renewed thereafter. For larger projects, contract terms are negotiable.
The Maldives opened up to foreign investment in the late 1980s. Foreign investments in the Maldives have primarily involved resort management, but also include telecommunications, finance, banking, insurance, air transport, courier services, and some manufacturing. Foreign investments are required to pay annual royalty fees to the government. The royalty fee is 3% of gross income or 15 percent of profits, whichever is greater, for majority foreign-owned companies. For others, the royalty is 1.5 percent of income or 7.5 percent of profits, whichever is greater. At present, personal income taxes are not imposed. Banks’ profits are taxed and a corporate profit tax is under discussion. International arbitration is available for dispute settlement. Foreign investments within the tourism sector – such as resorts – are registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
The Ministry of Economic Development approves joint ventures in the following sectors within ten working days of submitting required documentation: financial consultancy, auditing, insurance, water sports, commercial diving, domestic air transport, airline catering, game fishing, technical support services, apparel manufacturing, water bottling, cement, agencies, spa operators, water purification, boat building, software development, ferry services, finance leasing, fish processing, traditional medicine, underwater photography, ice making, restaurants, valuation, flying schools and IT services. Proposals for joint ventures in other sectors and investments fully owned by foreigners are approved within 30 days.
The Maldives government hopes to privatize airports and harbors and develop basic services such as water, sewerage systems, harbors, roads and power utilities through public private partnerships.
The Ministry of Economic Development is looking for local and foreign investors in media and broadcasting, entertainment industry, utilities, infrastructure, health care facilities, hospital management, regional airport management, and the development of residential infrastructure (vacation homes).
The Ministry of Economic Development encourages investment projects which: (1) are capital intensive; (2) enhance technology transfer; (3) introduce new skills and offer training to local employees; and, (4) are environmentally friendly.
Maldives Foreign Investment Opportunities:
Opportunities exist in the entire range of services, including development and management of resorts, tourist activities, and land and sea transportation.
Fish processing is open to foreign investment, particularly for new technology and capital investment.
Financial, banking, accounting, and management consulting:
The FISB is interested in bringing in more global banks. (Only HSBC is currently present). The lack of adequate banking laws has deterred entry, however.
Transportation and Shipping:
Development of air and sea transport including inter-atoll transport services, bunkering, transshipment, and passenger cruises. Male’ International Airport is the main gateway to Maldives. In December 2007, the airport in Gan Island in the south was upgraded to accommodate international flights. Of the 198 inhabited islands in the Maldives, 105 have harbors. Other key priorities in the transport sector are the expansion of the Male’ Airport and the Male’ Commercial Harbor, the development of a transshipment port, a bridge connecting the capital city Male’ with the airport island Hulhumale, and a new commercial port in the Male’ region.
The government is planning two major development plans in the area of population consolidation. The first is a consolidation of the services and infrastructure of 20 atolls around five regional centers. The second is a project to alleviate overcrowding in Male’ by developing nearby Hulhumale Island, where Male’s international airport is located.
Telecommunications and information technology
Currently, virtually all electricity is provided by diesel generators. Tourist resorts consume about 60 percent of electricity used in the Maldives. There is scope to provide renewable sources such as solar, wind and biomass for energy needs; pilot projects in these areas are underway on some islands.
Ownership Regulations in the Maldives
There is little private ownership of land in the Maldives. Land reform currently under consideration may result in more trade and private ownership of property. Instead of being granted ownership rights, foreign investors are granted lease rights ranging up to 25 years, which can be later extended depending on the level of investment. It is possible that the lease term be extended from 25 to 99 years.
Maldives Capital Markets
The financial sector in Maldives is narrow and dominated by the banking sector. The banking sector consists of one publicly owned commercial bank — the Bank of Maldives — and branches of four foreign-owned commercial banks. HSBC, the only global bank present, set up operations in 2002. Non-bank financial institutions in the country consist of two insurance companies, a pension fund, and a finance leasing company. All financial institutions currently operate under the supervision of the Maldives Monetary Authority, which acts as the central bank. The Maldives Monetary Authority Act was amended in 2007 to ensure independence of the Authority.
Local sources of finance are limited in scope because of the small size of the capital market and the lack of instruments that are available in more developed nations. The government commenced treasury bill auctions in 2006. Other types of financial instruments are not offered to the public. The commercial banks provide short- and long-term credit to the private sector. No specialized financial institution exists to meet the investment needs of tourism, agriculture and fisheries. Non-performing loans fell to 2.4% of total loans in 2006 from about 6.7% in 2005 due to a recovery in tourism and to improved banking supervision. Most foreign currency loans are made to foreign currency-earning tourist enterprises. Banking supervision has recently been upgraded, moving toward international best practices.
Securities Trading in the Maldives
A small Securities Trading Floor (STF) opened in Male’ in 2002 and was licensed as a private stock exchange in 2008. In 2006, the government took several steps to enhance the capital market. The legislature passed a Securities Act in January 2006 and the government created a Capital Market Development Authority (CMDA) to regulate the capital market. The STF now functions under the CMDA. At present, the only investment opportunity available to the public is a limited number of shares in the Bank of Maldives and three other state-owned public companies. A leasing company, Maldives Finance Leasing Company (Pvt) Ltd (MFLC), was established in May 2002 as a collaborative venture between five domestic public and private sector entities and two international parties including the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). The MFLC aims to address the demand for long-term equipment financing from all sectors of the economy.
Corruption in the Maldives
Corruption is a serious problem in Maldives, and the new government has vowed to fight it. The World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index for Maldives shows a steady decline in recent years from +0.06 in 2003 to -0.15 in 2004, -0.32 in 2005, -0.51 in 2006 and -0.78 2007. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index surveyed Maldives for the first time in its 2007 index and Maldives ranked 84 with a score of 3.3 out of a possible 10. In 2008, Maldives slipped 31 places and ranked 115 out of 180 countries with a score of 2.8.
The law on prevention and punishment of corruption (2002) defines bribery and improper pecuniary advantage and prescribes punishments. The law also outlines procedures for the confiscation of property and funds obtained through commission of the included offenses. An Anti-Corruption Commission was created in December 2008 following the passage of the Anti Corruption Commission Act. The responsibilities of the Commission include inquiring into and investigating all allegations of corruption; to recommend further inquiries and investigations by other investigatory bodies; and to recommend prosecution of alleged offences to the Prosecutor General, where warranted. The Anti-Corruption Commission is empowered to handle cases of corruption of members of parliament. It cannot investigate corruption in the private sector.
In March 2007, the Maldives acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Maldives Employment Laws
Skilled and unskilled labor is scarce, and expatriate labor is allowed in order to meet shortages. There are an estimated 80,000 expatriate workers, mostly in tourism, construction, and social and personal services. Expatriate labor is equal to or more expensive than local labor. Even when salaries are set lower, travel and other benefits typically make it more expensive overall to hire expatriates. Since higher education options in Maldives are limited, young Maldivians from higher income families often travel abroad for education.
The laws covering labor were overhauled in 2008 with the enactment of the 2008 Maldives Constitution, the new Employment Act, and a subsequent amendment to the Employment Act. The new constitution recognizes the workers’ right to strike and establish trade unions, for the first time. Maldives is hoping to enact a separate trade union law providing rules for formation of trade unions and collective bargaining.
The Employment Act provides for the establishment of minimum wages, maximum hours of work, overtime, annual and sick leave, maternity leave and work place safety.
The Employment Act created a 48-hour/week with a compulsory 24-hour break after six days of continuous work. Resort workers may accumulate the weekly rest day. Overtime is available. Workers in tourist resorts may work additional two hours a day and paid at overtime rate. Employees are usually authorized 30 days of annual leave, 30 days of medical leave, 65 days of maternity leave, and 10 days of special annual leave to “attend important obligations.” Either parent of a newborn child is entitled to one year’s unpaid annual leave after the expiry of the maternity leave period. Employers are also required to provide a safe workplace. The law provides for entering into of agreements between the employer and the employee which guarantees the rights specified in the law.
Until recently, the government did not recognize the right to form unions or the right to strike. Hence, labor actions and disputes were rare. While no labor unions yet exist, collective bargaining involving employees’ associations in the tourism sector began within days of the new constitution taking effect. Labor disputes arose in some resorts when employees’ associations presented demands for wage increases and improvements in the conditions of work and stopped work.
Traditionally, wages in the private sector have been set by a contract between employers and employees and were based on rates for similar work in the public sector. The new employment law established a Pay Advisory Board to advise the Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Employment on setting minimum wages in the private sector.
The Employment Act granted workers the right to compensation if fired without cause. The government has established a Labor Relations Authority to implement the new employment law. The law requires the Ministry of Human Resources to issue specific rules for employment of foreign workers.
The Employment Act does not cover emergency workers, air and sea crews, executive staff of any company and persons on on-call duty.
Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Foreign Investment: US firms represented in Maldives include Western Union, FedEx, UPS, Hewlett Packard (HP), Dell, Compaq, Coca-Cola, American Express, Hilton Resorts, Sheraton, SeaTec, Ernst and Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and KPMG.
The Maldives is Popular Destination Among Celebrities
The Maldives, one of the most luxurious destinations in the world is also one of the world’s most expensive destinations. It’s not surprising then, that the Maldives is a popular destination among the rich and famous around the world. The following is a quick summary of the hottest celebrities that have been spotted in the Maldives in recent months and years.
Beyonce and Jay-Z Charter a Yacht in the Maldives
In 2008, Beyonce and Jay-Z chartered a mega-yacht and cruised around the Maldives.
Jay-Z and Beyonce Chartered a Mega-Yacht in the Maldives
Naomi Campbell Holidayed in the Maldives in December 2008
Naomi Campbell visited the Maldives in December 2008, where she vacationed with her Russian billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin.
Naomi Campbell Holidayed in Maldives with Russian Billionaire Boyfriend
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Honeymoon in the Maldives
After an elaborate wedding in Italy in 2006, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise jetted off to the Maldives for a romantic honeymoon.
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise Honeymooned in the Maldives in 2006
Katie Price, aka Jordan, Holidays in Maldives to grieve break-up with Peter Andre
Katie Price, or Jordan, as she is more commonly known, recently visited the Maldives after her break-up with Peter Andre. She stayed at the 5-star Conrad Rangali Island Resort, where she also got into serious trouble with the Maldivian authorities for sunbathing topless.
Jordan Grieved Breakup with Peter Andre at the Conrad Rangali Island Resort
In order to help travelers to the Maldives find out real answers about the Maldives, provided by real people, a new website called AskMaldives has been launched.
Ask Questions and Get Answers on AskMaldives.info
AskMaldives is a “Question and Answer” Style Website
All questions on Ask Maldives are created by real people who are looking to find unbiased, accurate information about points of interest in the Maldives, from liveaboard scuba diving holidays to luxury resorts, politics and everything else in between. Answers are then provided by other people who have first-hand experience in the Maldives, who can give answers quickly, accurately and best of all, completely free of charge!
Ask Maldives Question and Answer Categories
Questions posed on Ask Maldives can be about anything relevant to the Maldives, with these categories provided as a guide: Business in the Maldives, Cheap Maldives Deals, Fishing in the Maldives, Surfing in the Maldives, Safari Ships and Liveaboards in the Maldives, Scuba Diving in the Maldives, Maldives Weather and several other categories.
Ask Questions about Maldives Liveaboards at AskMaldives.info
Ask Maldives is a User-Friendly Website
Users posing questions and suggesting answers on Ask Maldives will find the site to be very user-friendly and quick to maneuver. Within minutes you will have created your own personal account and can start asking questions that will be answered quickly and accurately. You can create a personal profile, upload photos and start making connections with other people interested in the Maldives and knowledgeable about the Maldives.
Start Asking Maldives Questions Today!.
To get started with your Maldives questions and answers, go to Ask Maldives, and register as a new user. Then simply ‘Ask a Question’, or search through the questions that have already been asked and find one you would like to answer. Then, come back a few hours later, or the next day, and see if your question has been answered. It’s simple, easy and a great way of getting accurate, unbiased answers to your questions about the Maldives completely free of charge.
Maldives Moves Up 2 Spaces on UN Human Development Index
Maldives Advances on UN Human Development Index
The Maldives has been promoted 2 spots on the UN’s Human Development Index, which ranks countries on their life expectancy, country wealth and education.
Maldives Ranked # 95 on UN Human Development Index
Out of the 182 countries included in the UN Human Development Index, the Maldives is ranked number 95, just behind Samoa and just ahead of Jordan.
Increased Opportunity in the Maldives
In the last 10 months in the Maldives, people have been forced to migrate less, since there has been less repression regarding people’s personal beliefs, so Maldivians are now staying in the Maldives as opposed to moving to other countries.
Maldives Population Density
Despite moving up the UN Human Development Index, changes in the Maldives have not all been positive. Maldivians continue to move to the capital island of Male in search of better education, so the population density in the Maldives has increased from 458 people per hectare in 1997 to 540 in 2006 and one-third of the country’s 385,000 population lives on the 2 square mile island of Male, in increasingly cramped living conditions.
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Surfing Resorts Maldives are the up-and-coming holiday destinations in the Maldives. Where liveaboard ships have traditionally transported scuba divers around the islands and reefs, now it is time for surfers from around the world to get the same amazing experience at Surfing Resorts Maldives.
Surfing Resorts Maldives
Surfing Resort Maldives Anantara
One particular Surfing Resorts Maldives is the luxurious Anantara Maldives Resort, where there is a tremendous wave variety that creates the ultimate ‘Ticket to Ride’. The Anantara Resort Maldives is offering this impressive 5-star service which caters for beginner to advanced surfers who get the chance to exclusively ride the waves and experience this unrivalled Surfing Resort Maldives setting. White sand beaches and tropical islands are surrounded by clear turquoise oceans that produce immaculate waves that sweep over flawlessly curved coral reefs.
Anantara Surfing Resort Maldives
Anantara is the ideal Surfing Resort in the Maldives, since the waves in the Anantara region of the Maldives vary throughout the year, so if you’re a beginner, you will choose to surf between November and April, whereas more daring surfers will visit between April and October. A luxurious resort offering all kinds of activities, the Anantara is fast becoming the best surfing resort in the Maldives. Now, they offer a ‘surfing pass’ entitled ‘ticket to ride’ that includes a surfing guide, a boat and surfing equipment. The Maldives surfing resort package is only available to 8 surfers at a time, ensuring there will not be any over-crowding and that surfers get the optimum experience.
Maldives Surfing Resorts Lessons
People looking to get surfing for the first time in the Maldives can rest assured. The Tropic Surf company, who work in conjunction with the Anantara Maldives Surfing Resort, has a 10–grade progressive training program for novice surfers. Introductory lessons are given in the calm waters of the Anantara lagoon, guided by a qualified instructor. After mastering the techniques, surfers progress slowly out into the open water and waves.
Maldives Surfing Resorts Package
The Maldives Surfing Resort Package at Anantara includes the following:
• Two dhoni boat transfers per day (towels and bottled water provided)
Denmark Foots the Bill for Maldives to Attend Climate Change Summit
The Maldives, one of the countries most affected by the climate change crisis, had said earlier this week that they would be unable to attend the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, due to budgetary constraints.
Maldives Climate Change Victim
The Maldives’ low-lying topography means that it will be engulfed by rising sea levels within the next few decades, leaving the country with some serious decisions to make: Will they build or purchase new, “taller” islands onto which to move all their people and buildings? Will the Maldives’ residents be granted refugee status in other countries when the islands disappear into the ocean?
Climate Change Summit
The upcoming climate change summit is to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark this December 7 – 18. Talks will be held to discuss the things that can be done across the world to try and slow or reverse the effects of climate change on the planet.
Maldives Financial Problems
Some might find it hard to believe that the Maldives have financial problems with such a thriving tourism industry, but that seems to be the case. Just earlier this week, the President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheem, announced that he plans to levy a climate change tax on all tourists staying on the islands to try and raise more money, as well as a plan to save money to build more high-level lands in the near future. These future plans, however, do not have funds available now to pay for the President’s trip to the Summit in Denmark.
Denmark Pays Maldives Climate Change Summit
In order for the Maldives to be able to attend, the government of Denmark have announced that they will be paying the bills for the Maldives’ President to attend the summit. Denmark will also be paying for several other poor nations and low-lying countries to attend the summit. In total, Denmark will be paying 2.5 million euros for other countries to attend the summit.
The President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, declared on Monday that he plans to begin charging a “Green” or “Climate” tax to all tourists visiting the Maldives.
Traditional Maldivian Dhoni
Green Tourist Tax Purpose
President Nasheed said that the tax would be a fixed cost of USD $3 per day, charged to all tourists visiting the Asian archipelago, and the money raised from the tax will be used to convert the Maldives to a country that runs purely on renewable energy.
Other “Green” Taxes
According to climate change experts, the Maldives will be one of the first countries in the world to disappear due to rising sea levels. The country is made up of thousands of islands, none of which are more than a few metres above sea level. There have been discussions about the country purchasing or building other, higher islands, and moving the country to a new location. To this end, President Nasheed has previously discussed the idea of a relocation tax which would pay for such a transition.
Other “Green” Schemes in the Maldives
It is said that the Maldives is having a difficult time financially, and some people imply that all the new tax creation ideas are simply a way of resolving existing debt, rather than creating funds for future, environmentally-friendly schemes. There were talks a few months ago of the Maldives becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country, if investors could be found to fund such a move.