Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Handicraftsmen versus Tourist Shops

The lucrative tourist souvenir business in the Maldives has always been controlled by a handful of shrewd businessmen, many of who have gone up in life to become rich resort owners. The artisans who create handicrafts and curios, on the other hand, have little choice but to sell their products to shops at a tiny fraction of the market price. But then this is how things should be in a free market economy. The rich will get richer and the poor could only hope to get a few crumbs thrown down at them –the so called treacle down effect.

Not satisfied with the overwhelming advantages they already enjoy, some shop owners have also been using unfair (? illegal) trade practices. They import cheap products from neighboring countries and palm them off to unsuspecting tourists as Maldivian products. This deprives local artisans of their already meager earnings. According to Miadhu Daily, Maizan Adam Manik, recipient of the 2008 UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicraft, has recently said that products of foreign origin are being sold in Maldives under ‘Made in Maldives’ label. He said shop owners often use misleading information in their sales pitch, sometimes with pictures of impoverished elderly people, to raise sympathy and sell foreign products.

Minister of State for Economic Development Adil Saleem has identified the urgent need for an authentication system for Maldivian products, Miadhu Daily reports. Considerable work has been done to produce an authentication logo, Director at the Economic Development Ministry Mohamed Luaiz has revealed. However the work has been delayed for various reasons.

This is not surprising since the long arms of businessmen reach the corridors of power in Male to ensure that no policy or regulation detrimental to their monopolistic practices is implemented. But again this is how things should be in a free market economy.


Stewie said...

It in deed is the way things will be in a free market capitalistic system. well said.

So what is the solution. is it time to seek another form of society system..

Anonymous said...

ya, this is how one-dollar guy started his business. guys like him who now have power will see to it that others don't get anything.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what the criteria for authenticity is?

If it's available from Najah shop, then only its authentic..

all of these are business deals..

Anonymous said...

@ 6:11,
Perhaps we could engage Najah as a control expert. We could then it the Najah Standard, NS for short.

zedzed said...

I met an old man who makes souvenir dhonis at kendhikulhudhoo. he sells those for the agent for just MRF 50.

These agents pay so little to the poor old people and sell them to dhonmeehun for a hefty amount.

there got to be a way island communities bypass the so called agents and make sure the craftsmen get what they deserve.

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

Zedzed, that is the crux of the problem. There are so many old men who get expolited like that. I know of a man in Himmafushi who makes coconut shell products, which he sells for between rf 30 and 50. The shops sell them for that much in dollars.

Anonymous said...

Maizan Adam Manik exploits our talented youngsters for his own profiteering. Shame on him.

Anonymous said...

Maizan Adam Manik helps other addicts produce craft. What’s wrong with it?