Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz told parliament today that the state would have to reduce other subsidies to issue Rf100 million (US$6.4 million) as oil subsidies for fishermen.
Responding to a query during Minister’s Question time at the first sitting of this year’s final session of parliament, Inaz explained that parliament had approved reducing amounts from other budget items to free up funds to subsidize oil for fishermen.
“It would have been easier if parliament had decided to reduce from a particular item,” he said, noting that potential items included subsidies for water, oil and foodstuffs as well as state benefits for persons with special needs.
“If we cut any of the [budget] items, we would be cutting basic needs,” he said. “The Majlis has not asked the government to cut any particular item so the government cannot cut any item and hasn’t been able to find a fair way to issue subsidies for fishermen.”
Inaz noted that there were other government policies geared towards assisting fishermen and developing the industry.
The Finance Minister added that the 2011 budget was structurally in deficit and oil subsidies could be issued after new tax revenue is collected.
The oil subsidy was added to the budget by parliament when it approved the 2011 state budget in December last year.
During today’s debate on a binding resolution proposed by MP Riyaz Rasheed to compel the government to issue the fishermen’s subsidy, opposition MPs insisted that delays to releasing the funds were “unacceptable” while the government was continuing its “wasteful and useless expenditures.”