Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to convey our appreciation to the Minister of External Affairs of India, Dr. Jaishankar, for convening this important event today.
On behalf of President Solih, Foreign Minister Shahid, the Government and the people of Maldives, let me congratulate Prime Minister Modi and the Government of India on a successful G20 Presidency. Hosting the 18th G20 Summit against a challenging global political landscape and ensuring its culmination in a consensus Declaration was, by any means, no small feat. We are happy that the Declaration itself reflects key areas that are of importance to developing countries.
As India is set to become the second largest global economy in the next 25 years, the world remains persuaded of its resilience and commitment. In this journey, India has also established itself as the voice of the Global South, bringing to the fore, challenges faced by the developing world to the G20 Summit and the UN.
The spirit of “One Earth, One Family and One Future” that shaped India’s G20 presidency is quite apt. India’s presidency was an inclusive one – welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20, and making the Group more representative, amplifying the voice of the developing world.
In the United Nations, India continues to walk the talk. The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is hailed by many as the blueprint to South-South cooperation. The result of this collaboration is before us today. In beneficiary countries, where there was a lack of balance in resource allocation yesterday, today, we see access to social and physical infrastructure. We are also hopeful that as the Chair the 62nd session of the UN Commission for Social Development, India will continue to emphasise issues that are vital to the Global South including climate action, finance, and Sustainable Development.
The Maldives as a Small Island Developing Country has reaped the benefits of India’s leadership in the Global South through its ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’. We are grateful for the assistance extended by India to propel socio-development in the Maldives under the High Impact Community Development Project scheme launched in 2019. At present, 39 projects are ongoing, and 8 projects have been inaugurated under this scheme. In addition, India has provided grant assistance to the Maldives which has contributed to our socio-economic development – a total of 21 out of 22 projects have already been completed and inaugurated. Important infrastructure development projects have also been provided under the Line of Credit extended by the Government of India through the Indian EXIM Bank. This includes the Greater Male’ Connectivity Project, building a Cancer Hospital, Water and Sanitation projects in 34 islands, and the expansion of 2 international airports in the North and the South of the archipelago. We also attribute a significant portion of our fast-paced recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to India- it would not have been possible without our closest partner and friend.
Many of the global issues we face today can be solved through global cooperation. The need of the hour is to forge partnerships that can convince us of this reality so that we can work in unison towards a common goal.
Once again, let me thank External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar and the Government of India for the invitation. We have every confidence that you will continue to be a leader of and champion for the Global South.
I thank you.