Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has firmly denied allegations concerning the lack of transparency around foreign loans, made by Dr Mohamed Muizzu, the opposition PPM-PNC presidential candidate. The minister stated that all information related to such loans is shared with the appropriate authorities and is in accordance with legal requirements.

At a campaign rally last Thursday, Muizzu raised concerns over what he perceived to be excessive secrecy surrounding the terms of foreign loans, including interest rates. He suggested that even the Governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) was unaware of the details of these loans.

In response, Ameer highlighted that, “The information on any foreign loans is not kept secret. As per the law, it is already shared with the parliament and the MMA. Other information is on the ministry website”. He further noted that the previous government had withheld financial reports sent to parliament between 2013 and 2018, a point he felt it was hypocritical to overlook.

Additionally, Muizzu accused the current administration of mortgaging schools to secure loans. The Finance Minister categorically denied this allegation, which has been previously refuted by the government.

Ameer dispelled claims that the Maldivian government has plans to draw an MVR 3 billion loan from the Indian government, a report that was circulated by a media outlet last Thursday. According to Minister Ameer, no such discussions have been held with any party, including the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives.

In his speech, Muizzu expressed disquietude over the government’s stance that disclosing interest rates on foreign loans could potentially threaten national security and hamper the Maldives’ ability to procure essential goods like flour and sugar from India. The opposition candidate, campaigning under the slogan ‘Dhivehinge Raajje’ (‘Maldivian’s Maldives’), called for a shift away from party ideologies to think from a national perspective in the upcoming second round of presidential elections.

He declared his intent to lead a government that would be fair, just, and eliminate injustice. Muizzu stressed that the government’s actions were leading to what he termed as the country’s “economic enslavement”, and urged the electorate to make a considered decision in the days leading up to the elections.

During Muizzu’s tenure as Housing Minister, the Maldives saw a significant pivot towards China in its foreign relations, contrasting sharply with the current administration’s closer ties with India. Muizzu pointed out that almost half of the country’s debt is beholden to a particular country, hinting at but not naming India, which adds to the swirling allegations and counter-claims related to foreign loans.