Law passed in the Maldives to Support Small Businesses
UNDP partnered with the Government to ensure the MSME Bill saw light of day
The President of the Maldives today ratified the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bill. The Small and Medium Enterprises Act governs the policies and principles for regulating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Maldives.
The factors inhibiting the MSME sector in the Maldives are many and varied, with access to finance and lack of business development skills being the most significant. The Ministry of Economic Development (MED), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided technical support to ensure the conception of the Bill that will ultimately lead to the setting up of an MSME Council.
“The SME Bill includes important provisions to address the main challenges facing the SME sector. The objective of the Ministry is to ensure effective implementation of these special provisions on financial assistance, market access and formalization of the sector such that these enterprises are given the opportunity to grow and make a meaningful contribution to economic growth,” said Abdulla Ameen, Minister of State for Economic Development.
Parliament passed the SME Bill in March, which seeks to provide access to finance; promote business skills, experience and market power of the MSME sector; coordinate Government policies and programs for MSMEs; and provide employment opportunities with MSMEs - to facilitate the sector becoming an innovative, resilient and locally and globally competitive force.
“In the Maldives, small businesses are the backbone of the economy and what upholds communities. It is important that mechanisms and plans are in place to create conditions to help them grow, and guarantee success for the MSME sector. They are the real drivers of economic growth that could reduce poverty and related vulnerabilities in the country,” said Azusa Kubota, Officer-in-Charge of UNDP Maldives.
MSMEs have been creating jobs and contributing to the GDP. Ms. Kubota stated that the Act comes at an opportune time, as despite the fact that they are a source of employment for a significant proportion of the population of Maldives, till today, there has been no legal system specifically tailored to regulate and support these enterprises.
Under the project ‘Gender and Economic Empowerment’, and later, ‘Employment and Enterprise Development for Women and Youth’, UNDP has been partnering with MED from the onset to conduct research in the MSME area; - from an SME mapping, a feasibility study to establish an SME Bank in the Maldives, as well as a legislative roadmap - prior to engaging professional expertise to draft SME regulation and the actual MSME Bill.
The successful implementation of this Act will pave way for formalizing the MSME sector and enable compilation of sector data to facilitate evidence based policymaking in the areas of economic policy, and assist in the economic diversification strategy.
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