It accounts for 28 per cent of the GDP of this tiny nation of three lakh people, and more than 60 per cent of its foreign exchange receipts. In fact, over 90 per cent of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. With the global financial crisis looming large, the tourism sector in Maldives has been badly hit.
Earlier in the day, in his first presidential address, Nasheed said: “The state of the economy is a cause for concern. However, we have always worked with tenacity and determination, qualities that have enabled us to secure many achievements.” The new President has also called for India’s help in the areas of energy (especially solar energy) information technology, science and technology, health and education.Nasheed conveyed to Ansari that he wanted to privatise public enterprises, build a school and two new hospitals. He also wants to build a robust public transport system — for which he invited bids from Indian companies, besides making a general appeal to Indian businessmen to make investments.According to Indian High Commissioner in Maldives A K Pandey, Nasheed wants to “deepen and develop” ties with India, and there will be “no pause, no interruption”.Ansari also met outgoing Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom — who did not attend Nasheed’s swearing-in — and talked about his role in the democratic transition. Pandey said “there was no valedictory feel” to the meeting between Ansari and Gayoom.Nasheed’s 90-minute swearing-in ceremony — held in Maldivian parliament, the Majlis — was attended by around a thousand people, including dignitaries like Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Jordan Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein. The elaborate ceremony was accompanied by a Quran recitation and a 21-gun salute.