Govt wrestles quota mandate from Fishcor
25 August 2020 | Fishing
Government has to find a transparent and credible system to replace the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) as the beneficiary of its “development objectives” fishing quotas, as the parastatal finds itself the subject of a high-profile police investigation following the Fishrot bribery scandal.
This is according to information minister Peya Mushelenga, who was responding to criticism of government auctioning off fishing quotas to raise much-needed funds for its Covid-19 response. This, he said, is “to achieve accountability that the proceeds, unlike in the past, will directly be paid into the state revenue account, with a view to prevent any further abuse and to ensure that the proceeds from this quota are made part of the budget tabled in parliament” to enable the legislature to have oversight over the executive.
Mushelenga added that the auction process will enable government to test the market with a view to ascertain the true value of natural resources reserved for governmental objectives.
According to Mushelenga, for the current fishing season, 95% of the hake quota is destined for commercial companies, while 4.3% is allocated for governmental objectives.
He added that 87% of the horse mackerel quota is for commercial companies, while 13% is for governmental objectives, and 95% of the monk fish quota goes to the commercial sector and 5% is to be used for governmental objectives.
“The new method of disposal of the governmental objectives quota has been approved in good faith and it is not intended to disrupt the normal operation of the sector, including employment created by the sector, as the commercial quota is still the largest quota that directly benefits the Namibian economy through value addition that creates the most employment,” he said.
Mushelenga's comments come after fisheries minister Albert Kawana took on critics who said the auction will create another corruption scandal.
Most viable option
Last week, the fisheries minister said the auction is not an ill-informed, ad hoc idea, but rather the most viable option proposed by President Hage Geingob's high-level panel on the economy.
Kawana added that the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the tax revenue shortfall from the tourism sector motivated the sale of the quotas.
“Tourism, which used to bring foreign currency at short notice, all but dried up. It is on this basis that fisheries had to be classified as an essential service so that fish can be sold in the international market to quickly generate foreign currency for our country,” he said.
Kawana said the portion reserved for locals will be divided into two streams, namely a 'wet' quota allocation that would make up 30%, and a 70% frozen component.
“The 60%, open to both local and international applicants, will have a different reserve price,” he said.