Fishermen’s Payment Delays Expose Government Failures

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Despite President Muizzu’s assurances that payments would be settled within 48 hours, the amount owed to fishermen by the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) has ballooned to nearly MVR 80 million.

The last payment made by MIFCO to the fishermen was early last month, and the outstanding debt has since surged. The primary issue stems from MIFCO’s inability to disburse funds promptly due to delays in receiving government subsidies.

As the Eid holiday approaches, the frustration among fishermen grows, with many voicing complaints about the delay in receiving their due payments. MIFCO’s media officer, Ibrahim Saeed (Keydu), stated that efforts are ongoing to resolve the issue swiftly. “We are working to pay the money as soon as possible,” he said, emphasizing the challenges MIFCO faces in securing the necessary funds.President Muizzu had pledged a 48-hour payment turnaround for fishermen, a promise that remains unfulfilled.

During a recent press conference, Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam acknowledged the government’s struggles, stating that both he and the Finance Minister are seeking ways to “breathe financially” and meet the payment obligations. Shiyam suggested that a resolution was on the horizon but provided no concrete timeline for when fishermen could expect relief.

Since President Muizzu took office, MVR 881 million has been disbursed to fishermen, yet this amount is overshadowed by the persistent payment delays and the reduced price of fish, which has dropped from MVR 25 to MVR 20 per kilo. This reduction, combined with the delayed payments, has sparked protests among the fishing community. Notably, in February, fishermen took over the Kooddoo fish factory, demanding immediate payment, and only ended their protest when a significant portion of the owed money was paid.

The current administration’s failure to deliver on its promises is evident. The fishermen’s plight continues unabated, highlighting the government’s inability to effectively manage the fisheries sector and provide timely financial support to those whose livelihoods depend on it. The repeated delays and unfulfilled promises are a stark reminder of the government’s shortcomings in addressing the critical issues faced by the fishermen.