Fishermen paid MVR 422m in dues; MVR 270m pending

Local fishermen carry their day's catch to the fish market for sale. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) has released MVR 422 million in dues owed to fishermen, while an additional MVR 270 million remains unpaid, according to Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam.

On September 16, 2023, the MDP administration – which lost re-election later that month - raised the fish purchase rate from MVR 17 to MVR 25. But the new administration has decided to lower the rate to MVR 20.

Shiyam was summoned to the Parliament for questioning regarding the decision on Monday morning. During the time allowed for follow-up questions, South Machangolhi MP Ahmed Haitham questioned the minister about pending payments to fishermen.

Shiyam said that the PPM-PNC administration - which took office in November 2023 - has paid MVR 422 million to fishermen, including credit for fuel and ice.

“This administration has paid MVR 422 million to fishermen. This includes credit for fuel and ice. As per our calculations, there’s MVR 270 million still pending,” he said.

Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam responds to questions at the Parliament on February 12, 2024. (Photo/People's Majlis)

“As you are aware, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu inherited around MVR 250 million in dues when he assumed office.”

Shiyam said that despite its decision to raise the fish purchase rate in September, the MDP administration had not paid fishermen their dues.

He said that the rate hike had been unresearched, and nothing but a “political ploy” to win votes.

He said that fishermen had yet to be paid MVR 270 million in dues, including the MVR 250 million pending when the new administration took office.

Shiyam blamed the former administration’s huge backlog for the delay in settling the dues.

“The reality is, we are finding it had to overcome this difficulty. But we will soon overcome this difficulty and clear the backlog of dues to fishermen,” he said.

Shiyam said his ministry was working to clear the backlog as soon as possible.