The funds are meant to carry out high-impact projects in Maldives through Local Councils

As a part of India’s neighborhood first policy, the country on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a grant of $4.5 million for implementing community development projects in Maldives.

The MoU was signed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid, who is also president-elect of the UN General Assembly. Shahid is currently on a three-day visit to India.

“To support decentralisation efforts of Govt of President @ibusolih, an addl. grant of MVR 70 mn ($4.5 mn) has been extended to carry out high-impact projects in #Maldives through Local Councils. An MoU was signed during FM @abdulla_shahid’s ongoing visit to formalise this,” the Indian high commission in the Maldives said in a tweet.

In a tweet, EAM Jaishankar described the community projects in the Maldives as “Neighbourhood first in action”. He added that he had a “warm meeting” with Shahid and discussed the priorities of his presidency at the UN General Assembly.

The Maldives has benefited from large India-backed infrastructure projects worth $2 billion. These smaller high impact community development projects are a crucial part of India’s cooperation with the Maldives and the agreement signed by the ministers will lead to an additional outlay of MVR 70 million for projects to be implemented by local councils.

The Maldivian Foreign Minister tweeted that the high impact community development projects, funded with grant assistance from India, are “immensely impactful”. He added, “I am delighted that today, we paved the way for more projects to be funded under this scheme with the envelope being increased to MVR 155 million.”

Shahid, on his first foreign visit since his election to the UN post on July 7, also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The prime minister felicitated Shahid on his vision statement for a “Presidency of Hope”, and assured him of India’s full support and cooperation during his presidency.

The Prime Minister also expressed satisfaction that bilateral projects are progressing well despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and pointed to the importance of the Maldives as a “key pillar of India’s Neighbourhood First policy and vision of SAGAR”.

The Maldives was the first country to receive made-in-India vaccines in January, and this was preceded by health and humanitarian aid in 2020, including 12 tonnes of medicines, and a soft loan of $250 million for budgetary support.