WORKERS in the Namibian fishing sector will not be affected by the sale of the Namibian Government’s share of the annual fishing quota.
Albert Kawana, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, clarified the decision to auction off 60% of the Governmental Objective Fish Quota to foreign fishing companies to generate revenue in foreign currency to mitigate the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the National Economy.
He said that the process will be transparent and will not result in more corruption.
“It is most unfortunate to allege, without any evidence, that auctioning will result in another Fishrot. This allegation must be rejected. It is common cause that auctioning which complies with international standards promotes transparency and avoids the experience of the past,” he said.
According to Kawana, the money generated will be paid directly into the State Revenue Account as per the requirements of the State Finance Act of 1991.
He said that thereafter, a budget during the mid-term review will be prepared and tabled in Parliament.
“The other advantage, unlike in the past, is that there will be full accountability because all monies paid into the State Revenue Account should be audited by the Auditor–General. The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources or the Ministry will never handle the money,” he said.
Kawana indicated that it was decided to take this approach to promote transparency and accountability.
He added that all the requirements which are internationally accepted and applicable to the auctioning system will be complied with by the Technical Committee of officials from different Offices and Ministries that has been established to implement the decision of the Cabinet.
“We need to enhance more transparency in all functions of public affairs. As His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob President of the Republic of Namibia always says, transparency plus accountability equals trust. This is exactly what we are trying to do. We need to introduce more transparency in the fisheries sector in order to avoid the mistakes of the past,” he said.
With regard to the preservation of jobs in the fishing industry, he said that the Government is fully committed to preserving employment of Namibia’s citizens in all sectors of the economy.
He said the condition to reserve 40% of the quota for local companies was put in place to preserve jobs.
Kawana further noted that another condition is that only licensed Namibian vessels will be allowed to harvest the fish.
“This will mean that there will be more job opportunities for our people. We will never allow foreign vessels to come and operate here while our people, some of whom are well skilled, are without employment,” he said.
Kawana said that he believes that the government is entitled to generate maximum revenue from the natural resources of country with a view to address a number of socio- economic challenges such as provision of decent housing and the effects of COVID-19.
The fisheries minister appealed to citizens to come up with useful proposals on how to derive optimum benefits from the country’s natural resources, especially, the fisheries sector.
“I also appeal to our law enforcement agencies to strike a balance if we are to win the war against corruption. Both those who accept bribes, as well as those who offer bribes must be dealt with harshly without mercy. In this difficult time of COVID-19, I appeal for unity and understanding,” he said.
It was decided by Cabinet on 4 August that in order to preserve employment, 40% of the quota should be reserved for local operating companies.
The remaining 60% will be offered to the highest bidder whether local or international.
The quota reserved for local fishing companies will be divided into two streams.
Wet fish processors will be allocated 30% and freezer processors will be allocated 70%. Each category will have a different reserve price.
Kawana said 60% of the quota will be open to both local and international operators and will have a different reserve price.
“I must also state here that the quota that is to be auctioned to both local and international is not that significant,” he said.
Out of 154 000 metric tons of total allowable catch (TAC) for hake, only 6 600 tons or 4.3 % will be available to both local and international bidders. The rest is for local utilisation.
Out of 330 000 tons of the TAC for horse mackerel, only 43 200 tons or 13% will be available for both local and international companies. This leaves 87% for local utilisation.
The TAC for monk is 7 300 tons and only 392 tons or 5% will be available for both local and international. This means 95% is reserved for local utilisation.