In his maiden address today to the UN General Assembly, President Mohamed Nasheed pledged to undertake major economic reforms in the Maldives.

He said that the scale of the economic challenge faced by the country was enormous and that it needed to be addressed directly and firmly.

“The new government is determined to address the economic challenge with honesty and vigour; in consultation with the IMF and World Bank, we have embarked on a programme of major economic reform designed to reduce the bloated public sector, privatise public utilities and promote private enterprise and trade,” said the President in his address to the UN.

The President said that a better economic environment would facilitate the strengthening of democracy in the Maldives and appealed for the help of the international community.

“The scale of the problems we face means that we cannot succeed on our own; we therefore look to you, our friends in the international community, to help us get back onto our feet,” he added.

President Nasheed that the dire economic situation faced by the Maldives was the result of the current global recession, bad fiscal policies of the former regime aimed at political patronage, high prices of oil and food, and the pressures of the efforts to recover from the tsunami of 2004.
The Maldives is set to graduate from the UN’s list of least developed countries at the end of 2010, and the President cited the consequent loss of benefits granted to LDC countries as also compounding the short-term economic outlook of the country.