Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Resources Ahmed Shiyam has assured fishermen that all money owed to them by Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) will be paid before Ramadan, aligning with President Mohamed Muizzu’s earlier commitment to clear the backlog ahead of the holy month.

Shiyam told reporters on Thursday that the biggest challenge in paying fishers was the increase in the per-kilo buying rate of fish from MVR 17 to 25 during the last presidential election by the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration. MIFCO was already losing money when the purchase price of fish was increased and therefore it has been increasingly difficult to pay fishermen, he said.

“The money is being released to fishers since the fifth day of this month. MVR 50 million has been released on that day alone. The hope is to clear the backlog before the start of Ramadan,” he said.

The minister said a total of MVR 650 million has been paid to fishers since the Muizzu administration took office, but there was still MVR 147 million outstanding.

“Now, the money has been released for the fish caught by the fishers up till 25 January,” he said.

The president, while addressing residents of Duvaafaru Island in Raa (R) Atoll on 3rd March, said that his administration was working to establish a system where fishers would be paid within 48 hours of weighing their catch with MIFCO. He also mentioned that efforts were underway to clear the current backlog of payments.

The current administration, on 11 February this year, reduced the per-kilo purchase price of fish from MVR 25 to MVR 20.