Flats developed in Hulhumale phase 2 via loans. (Atoll Times Photo/Hussein Sunein)

MATATO urges pres candidates to avoid debt fuelling pledges

MATATO highlighted the importance of understanding the near, medium and long-term consequences and cost to the economy.

28 August 2023

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) on Monday raised its concerns to the candidates vying for the upcoming presidential elections in the Maldives. As the nation grapples with a growing debt crisis, MATATO emphasises the pressing need for responsible fiscal policies and a clear focus on the well-being of the economy and our citizens.

In a statement, MATATO observed with concern the growing trend of a “bidding war,” where candidates vie to promise more and more to the electorate. While the allure of free offerings is undeniable, MATATO highlighted the importance of understanding the near, medium and long-term consequences and cost to the economy.

"As politicians advocate for generous giveaways, the association urges them to consider the sustainable impact on the nation’s finances and the burden it may place on taxpayers, that can lead to economic disaster," the statement read.

"It is crucial for political leaders to recognise that the promises they make today have far-reaching implications for our country’s economic future. Income and expenditure must align, and the detrimental effects of inflation and socioeconomic imbalances cannot be overlooked. This pattern places an undue burden on taxpayers and particularly affects lower-income individuals and families."

MATATO underscored the urgency of the government introducing fiscally responsible solutions to raise and allocate MVR 30.5 billion needed to service the Maldives debt, including through issuing stringent fiscal laws that would prevent the rampant issuance of illogical promises that would further exacerbate the impending debt crisis.

Such laws would hold political candidates accountable for their commitments and ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the nation’s longterm financial health, the organisation added.

MATATO says that the Maldives can thrive under responsible leadership that prioritises economic stability and the welfare of its citizens. MATATO urges all presidential candidates to adopt a fiscally prudent approach, taking into consideration the consequences of their promises and their impact on our nation’s future.