Fisheries Minister accused of hindering parliament works

Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan speaking at the official function to celebrate Maldives’ 42nd Fishermen’s Day in GDh. Faresmaathodaa. (Photo / President's Office)

Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, on Wednesday, has accused Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hussain of hindering the parliament’s works in light of the minister’s failure to respond, in writing, to questions posed to him by lawmakers.

Central Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed (Bonde) has requested response to three questions in writing from the minister. They seek information regarding the rejected number of fish from those exported to Thailand by Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO).

In this regard, he has requested the details of reject rates of fish sold by MIFCO to Thailand and the rates of fish dispersed for free as per the company’s invoices from 2016 to 2017. He also sought to know what happens to skip-jack tuna and yellow-fin tuna rejected at Thailand’s harbor or the local buyers’ cold storage.

Responding to the question, Minister Hussain said he is not privy to that information. He, underscoring MIFCO is not a company under ministry’s oversight, said MIFCO will be privy to these details.

“The Ministry does not oversee these records. MIFCO does. The information pertains to the company’s business,” his response read.

Speaker Nasheed who was presiding over Wednesday’s sitting, expressing anger over the response, said that a minister’s responsibilities are not decided by the individual holding the post. He detailed each authority is bestowed certain responsibilities by the parliament while cabinet ministers are mandated to oversee the implementation of these responsibilities. He added that Fisheries Minister Hussain is standing on the ‘wrong road’ if these responsibilities dictated maintaining the records.  

Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed presides over a parliamentary sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Speaker Nasheed, underscoring the parliament’s earlier probes into cases related to Maldives fisheries export, said these probes uncovered rejection is carried out in a manner that leads to corruption.

“As I believe, the rejection rates are statistics that must be maintained. If they are not, it is likely there must be something unlawful happening. The minister is hindering the parliament’s works,” he said.

Speaker Nasheed has alleged corruption in the rejection of fisheries exports since the inception of Fisheries Project Implementation Division.

Speaker Nasheed, who is working against the government, has recently criticized cabinet ministers for their responses in the parliament, often interrupting them as they speak to demand further details or state his own opinion on the minister's response.