THE National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) has resorted to selling the remainder of the government’s share of the annual total allowable catch to stay afloat financially.
The Chairman of Fishcor’s temporary board of directors, Mihe Gaomab II, during the first public engagement since the Fishrot corruption scandal was exposed to the world admitted that the state-owned company is fighting an uphill battle to stay afloat financially.
“The sale of 3 000 tonnes of hake to the highest bidder over the past few weeks did put the company back on an even keel. Our bank accounts are still frozen which made the payment of salaries to our employees a bit difficult but most of the challenges are being addressed,” he said.
Gaomab indicated that the sale of the 3 000 tonnes of hake generated approximately N$39 million and that after all overheads and salaries in arrears were paid the company managed to still bank N$21 million.
With regards to the way forward with the company’s partner in the Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) joint venture, Africa Selection Fishing Namibia, Gaomab said that the matter is currently before the court and that he will not be able to comment.
He said that he is not sure if it would fall to the taxpayers of Namibia to bail Fishcor out of the obligation of N$170 million it still has towards its partnership in SPP.
Gaomab said that the company is currently busy implementing a turn-around-strategy and that it aims to appoint a substantive Chief Executive Officer as a matter of urgency. He added that the strategy is in line with the Ministry of Public Enterprise directive of developing an Integrated Strategic Business Plan (ISBP) for 2020/21.
The expectation is that the ISBP will offer an analytic insight into the enterprise, its ambitions, and plans to achieve such. Fishcor will report against the ISBP on a periodic basis to the Minister of Public Enterprises, explaining deviations against financial and non-financial targets, and as and when necessary propose for approval by the Shareholder representative the adjustment of targets in a well-motivated, informed, and transparent manner.
“The ISBP will instill the much-desired discipline in the management of public enterprises whereby results-reporting is against clearly defined strategic objectives and targets to facilitate long-overdue accountability management,” he said.
Gaomab said that the temporary board has started consultation and engagement with the Ministry of Fisheries and Public Enterprises to secure quotas also for the current fishing season that started at the beginning of January 2021.
“The Board has continued and on a consistent basis during these trying times, remained committed to addressing challenges faced at Fishcor with a compassionate and humane understanding of the situation at moment, whilst cognizant of addressing the strategic, executive, and operational challenges currently faced with respect to the company.
With regards to the appointment of a substantive Chief Executive Officer Gaomab said that the position was advertised in November 2020.
“The Board is conscious that the Search of the CEO search process is not hastened nor slowed, and taking into account the December 2020 and early part of January 2021 season, the board has met on the 14 January 2021 and has appraised the full list of all those employed and is busy in process of the psychometric assessment of nine candidates and only then will the Board develop a shortlist where an interview is scheduled to be held later this month. The Board aims to complete the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer by March 2021,” he said.
About the freezing of the state-owned company’s bank accounts, he said that the Board will offer its full cooperation with the relevant authority and the applicable laws on the provision of the requisite information to ensure the completion of the investigation.
Gaomab said the Board assures the public that it is reorienting by putting in place transparent and integral effective corporate governance at the company and is now in process of recruiting new people for management positions as well as providing continuous strategic oversight to Fishcor as mandated by the Ministry of Public Enterprise and indeed from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.