A resolution has been introduce to Parliament calling on the current administration to pay fishermen their dues as soon as possible.

The motion was introduced by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Addu Meedhoo, Rozaina Adam, on 5 February, and as such, she requested that the Speaker of Parliament expedite the matter.

Rozaina’s resolution calls on the Muizzu administration to appreciate fishermen’s worth and to ensure a decent income to those employed in the fisheries sector. A key objective of the Fisheries Act was to ensure adequate income to the fishermen in order to help them benefit from the sector, she said, going on to highlight that fishermen are undertaking a hard, important, job in building the nation’s economy.

The resolution states that fishermen have been complaining about not being paid for fish sold to a state-owned enterprise for a number of days, and highlights that fishermen have gone unpaid for their hard work for more than two months. Since fishermen have gone without payment for their hard work for such a long period, they were facing hardships, she said.

Rozaina also highlighted that President Mohamed Muizzu’s campaign pledges included arranging for the fishermen to receive money for their catch within 48 hours of being weighed and priced, adding that fishermen have the right to get paid for their work. It is the responsibility of the administration to ensure the rights of fishermen and deliver on its promises in such a significant matter related to the country’s economy, she said.

The resolution also highlighted that the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) has never before gone for so long without paying the money due to the fishermen and that, with the month of Ramadan around the corner, fishermen and their families are likely to face more hardships due to the delay in receiving the money they deserve.

Many fishermen are expressing concern that their basic needs are not being met and they are facing difficulties, Rozaina said, highlighting the resolution’s call on the administration to take immediate action to ensure the fishermen’s livelihood and be paid for their catch as soon as possible.

While the resolution comes at a time when fishermen are expressing concern over repeated delays in payments, the current administration has maintained that the delay began with the previous MDP-led administration.

MIFCO, in the lead up to the second round run-off of the presidential elections between the then incumbent President and MDP candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and current President Mohamed Muizzu, increased the per-kilo buying rate of skipjack tuna from MVR 17 to MVR 25; a 47 percent hike which many, even at the time, believed to be unsustainable given the prevailing market rates.

According to Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Resources Ahmed Shiyam, while MVR 250 million was budgeted last year for the purchase of fish, the change in purchase prices necessitated an additional MVR 250 million, which was not budgeted, thus leading to the current state.