Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Resources Ahmed Shiyam has said that the administration is subsidising MIFCO by increasing the purchase price of skipjack tuna to MVR 25 per kilogram.

Speaking with local media, Shiyam said that the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration had increased the price for political convenience which is why MIFCO is currently having difficulty making payments to fishermen. President Solih had increased the buying rate, by a whopping 47 percent, from MVR 17 to MVR 25.

The fishing industry will only develop with both private and government interests contributing to the industry, he said.

“It’s really hard for MIFCO not to be able to pay. We’re talking about a huge price difference. This is not a convenient price to set even as a subsidy. The subsidy payouts have ballooned by millions. This is also public funds that are going in this direction [as subsidy payments],” the minister said.

He said the biggest challenges posed due to the state’s buying hike were to the private companies. Some are already at a standstill because they cannot match the price, he said, adding that there are fewer operational processing facilities and that many are losing their jobs.

“Private companies are struggling a lot. The state has responsibilities. We have to find solutions for the families whose incomes are impacted. It [the buying rate] should not have been fixed at a level where the state has no strength [to address the situation]. Something like this could destroy the whole industry,” he said.

Shiyam said that as the nation works to revive the fishing industry, both government-owned and private companies should have the space to operate. He said he would work to revise the buying price in line with President Muizzu’s promise of not less than MVR 20 per kilo. The minister said he would undertake revisions after consulting with all industry stakeholders.