The Maldives is to get a US$40 million (MVR616.8 million) concessional loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development, the government said Monday as a minister took a swipe at the European Union for approving targeted sanctions because of worsening rights in the country.
The loan will be used for harbour construction, airport building and setting up sewage systems.
It is not clear if the funding is new or is part of the US$159.6 million OFID project portfolio in the Maldives.
There are 15 projects listed in the portfolio and just four are ongoing: two are related to sanitation, one to regional hospital development and the fourth to the development of the Maldives’ main international airport.
The water and sanitation projects began in March 2013 and December 2014 with combined funding of more than US$73 million.
There is no record of a new US$40m loan from OFID to the Maldives. The harbour construction project was completed in August 2007 and no new harbour construction projects are listed.
The Maldives Independent has contacted OFID for clarification.
Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu told reporters that MVR13.5 million would be used for harbour construction projects.
“This is an example that proves how friendly organizations and states are helping our development projects, despite attempts by various groups to tarnish our image and impose restrictive measures,” he was quoted as saying by local media.
Government officials could face travel bans and asset freezes following the EU’s decision for restrictive measures if the situation does not improve.
President Abdulla Yameen has yet to directly comment on the EU decision – though he said last week he was warned about it – and is out and about showcasing government-led infrastructure such as sewage systems.
“The OPEC Fund for International Development is a funding agency that has been helping Maldives for a long time. They have also funded important projects in water and sewage system at the environment ministry over the last four and a half years,” Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim said.
He said his ministry would carry out projects worth a total of MVR19.5 million and that work on them would start this year.
There will be projects in Haa Dhaal Nellaidhoo, Neykurendhoo, Makunudhoo, Shaviyani Feydhoo, Gaaf Dhaal Vaadhoo, Fiyoari, Baa Dharavandhoo and Kendhoo.
Beach protection projects will be funded in Shaviyani Maroshi and Addu City Meedhoo. Money for harbour construction will be spent in Addu City Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Baa Kudariki,lu, Dhonfanu and Kihaadhoo.
The OFID loan will also be used to fund an airport project in Faafu Nilandhoo.
This article has been updated with additional paragraphs about OFID’s work in the Maldives.