Application forms will be available on April 1 for fishermen to register in the government’s scheme to provide MVR10,000 (US$648) during lean months, President Abdulla Yameen said last night.
Addressing supporters in Gaaf Dhaalu Thinadhoo at a rally held to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s victory in the parliamentary polls, President Yameen said the allowance will be released to fishermen before the end of May “when all the calculations and documentation are done.”
Marinas for fishermen would meanwhile be complete by the end of the year, Yameen said.
A MVR10,000 allowance to fishermen “regardless of catch” during lean months was a campaign pledge of candidate Yameen and the now-ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
In an interview with Minivan News in January, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainy explained that the allowance will be provided through an insurance scheme.
“If you look at the skipjack fishing statistics for last year, you will see three or four months which are very difficult for the fishermen. The real goal of this is sustainability,” he said.
“So the aim of the government is to ensure that even during these difficult months fishermen stay in the industry. For that reason, during those few months we want to give a payment so that they can do their basic necessities, so they can fulfil their daily obligations towards their family. The MVR10,000 scheme is a top-up system.”
He stressed that the MVR10,000 was not a subsidy as the productivity of the fisheries industry has been increasing since the downturn in 2004.
“So now we need to make the industry stand alone and be more vibrant and shock-proof to absorb these shocks. We need to devise a way to get people’s minds set on the idea that they can work in the industry. The real reason is the sustainability of the fishermen in the industry to keep them in the field during this low season,” he said.
According to the President’s Office, President Yameen also said that discussions were ongoing between the State Trading Organisation (STO) and the Indian government to arrange the supply of petroleum products.
When the talks are concluded, Yameen said the price of oil would fall during the next two months.
Duing Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to the Maldives last month, an agreement was reached to supply diesel, petrol, and aviation fuels “on favourable terms” from the Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd, a subsidiary of India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
Following President Yameen’s state visit to India in January – his first official overseas trip since assuming office in November – senior government figures described Indo-Maldives ties as being “as strong as they were during [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom’s time in power”.
Meanwhile, in his speech last night, President Yameen reportedly said that the government has undertaken efforts to attract foreign investors to the country, which would create jobs for unemployed youth.
Among the projects in the pipeline for Thinadhoo that President Yameen announced last night included road construction, land reclamation, construction of a sports arena, and broadening tourism.
With the prevailing political stability and the mandate given to the current administration by the public in the presidential and parliamentary polls, Yameen said he believed that the government could commence mega-projects and transform the Maldives to “this region’s Singapore.”