Muizzu’s Broken Promises: Fishermen Left in Financial Crisis Again as MIFCO Fails to Pay

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The Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) has once again failed to fulfill its promise of timely payments to fishermen, leaving them in dire financial straits. Despite President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s promise of settling payments within 48 hours, fishermen have yet to receive any payments since March 10 for catches weighed until March 7. This glaring delay, now spanning over two weeks, is just the latest in a series of broken promises by the Muizzu government.

This isn’t the first time fishermen have been left high and dry under Muizzu’s administration. After the formation of the new government, fishermen endured a harrowing two-month payment gap, which sparked protests and forced the closure of the fish factory in Koddoo until payments were eventually resumed.

Prior to the recent resumption of payments, fishermen had been reporting unpaid dues since December, attributing the delay to a staggering government backlog of MVR 250 million. Despite President Muizzu’s lofty promises to address payment issues within 48 hours of catch weighing, fishermen continue to wait in vain for their hard-earned wages since March 7.

Last month, tensions reached a boiling point as fishermen in Kooddoo took to the streets to protest the non-payment of fish catches, rebuffing the Fisheries Minister’s feeble pleas for more time to settle the MVR 298 million owed by the government. Their frustration, born out of two months of financial neglect, boiled over as they stormed the Kooddoo Fisheries Complex in a desperate bid for justice.

Despite hollow reassurances from the government, fishermen remain deeply skeptical, highlighting the crippling financial strain caused by these incessant payment delays. Many have been forced to take out loans to cover essential expenses, while others lament having to choose between paying electricity bills or facing internet disconnection due to financial constraints.

With each boat owed more than MVR 4 million, the protesting fishermen have vowed to maintain their stand in Kooddoo until a substantial portion of their outstanding payments is settled. Adding fuel to the fire is the government’s inexplicable decision to slash the fish purchasing price from MVR 25 to MVR 20 per kilo.

It’s abundantly clear that the Muizzu government’s handling of the fisheries sector has been nothing short of disastrous. From broken promises to arbitrary price reductions, fishermen are bearing the brunt of this administration’s incompetence and indifference. The livelihoods of Maldives’ fishermen will continue to hang in the balance, while the Muizzu government fiddles with empty rhetoric and empty promises.