Resolution on fuel subsidies for fishermen sent to committee

A resolution (Dhivehi) submitted by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed ‘Kubey’ calling on the government to issue without delay MVR 100 million (US$6.4 million) allocated for fuel subsidies to fishermen from the 2012 state budget was sent to committee at yesterday’s sitting of parliament.

The resolution was accepted and sent to the Economic Affairs Committee for further review with 42 votes in favour and five abstentions.

On October 17, parliament’s Finance Committee approved guidelines for the Fisheries Ministry to issue the subsidy directly to fishing boat owners.

However, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim then questioned the legality of issuing the subsidy, suggesting that it could be in violation of the Public Finance Act.

Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shafeeu told Sun Online yesterday that legal issues remained to be resolved before releasing the funds.

“We requested the AG [Attorney General] for advice, because subsidies cannot be provided without a [specific] law. The AG said that if it’s identified as a basic right, it can be provided based on the former Supreme Court’s ruling. But it involves legal problems. We are prepared to provide subsidies, we just have to follow the legal procedures,” he was quoted as saying.

Shafeeu said that the subsidies could not be released until the legal issue was resolved but expressed hope that it could be done before November 15, leaving one and a half months for the ministry to release funds to 1,053 vessels registered for the subsidy.