Maldives Ports Ltd. (MPL) has decided to institute a US dollar-based fee structure for all shipping vessels, effective April. This change was announced by MPL’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Wajeeh Ibrahim, during a recent press briefing.

Ibrahim stated that under the current system, ship agents levy charges on vessels transporting goods to the Maldives in US dollars and remit payments to MPL in Maldivian Rufiyaa. These agents have been engaging in transactions involving the sale of US dollars at black market rates, fluctuating between MVR 17 and 18, and subsequently remitting payments to MPL at the official exchange rate of MVR 15.42, he said.

“These transactions culminate in an annual total of US$ 30 million. The necessity for this transformation is imperative,” asserted Ibrahim. Consignees also remit payments to shipping vessels in US dollars, and if they were to transact with shipping companies in Maldivian Rufiyaa, they would incur an additional cost of 20 percent, he added.

Ibrahim contended that the existing system is inequitable, citing that even the charges imposed by airports on airlines are remitted in US dollars. He expressed the company’s conviction that transitioning to a US dollar-based fee structure for ship agents and shipping vessels represents the most equitable and transparent approach.

However, Ibrahim reassured stakeholders that this transition would not impact consumers or influence the prices of imported goods. “This fee is imposed on entities engaged in the importation of goods to the Maldives,” he clarified.

Until 2011, MPL levied charges on ship agents in US dollars. However, a policy shift by the then-government led to a transition to Maldivian Rufiyaa. Ibrahim, who served at MPL earlier from 2013 to 2022, was appointed to the role of CEO at MPL on 30 November 2023.