DUE to a struggling economy, the fishing sector may face increased levies to finance the management of Namibia’s fishing sector.
According to fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, investors were still running to the bank smiling because fish exports are at a high because of low fuel prices and a weak Namibia dollar, compared to other major currencies.
“While things are looking good for them, government is struggling. The sector will have to pay because government cannot afford the management of the sector now,” he stated.
Before any decisions are taken, however, consultations in this regard will first take place between the government and the industry.
“We do not want to tax the sector to death, but we do need a smart partnership,” he told the media.
Esau told more than 200 representatives from the fishing sector which comprises 358 companies yesterday at Walvis Bay that the current economic challenges, mainly caused by the economic situations in neighbouring countries and around the world, were made worse by the current drought, which is causing food security concerns in several areas of Namibia.
He reminded the industry of the times when the economic situation for fish exports was difficult when fuel prices were high and the Namibia dollar was strong, and that the ministry “always listened and intervened to ease the economic pain experienced by fishing companies”.
“Well, times have changed, and we have had at least 12 months of low global fuel costs and a weak Namibia dollar, which is good for exports.
As a response to the current economic challenges, the government is committed to cutting expenditure, especially in light of situations such as the downgrade by the ratings’ agency Fitch,” he noted.
Fitch last week revised Namibia’s economic outlook from stable to negative, which means there is a strong chance of a downgrade if the country does not do what the ratings agency recommended. Fitch also affirmed Namibia’s Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings at ‘BBB-‘, stating that Namibia has seen relatively strong growth, considering the prevailing drought; a weak performance in key trading partners (notably South Africa and Angola); and higher interest rates.
Esau said his ministry is responding to this situation by reducing expenditure across all its activities; and that he is committed to ensure (as per the Marine Resources Act) that all official services which are directly linked to facilitating the fishing industry are offered at the cost of the industry.
Such activities range from the issuance of control forms, to the setting of total allowable catches (TACs) and surveillance activities. He will also implement the provisions of a Cabinet-commissioned study on quota fees a few years ago, which recommended that the management of fisheries in Namibia be financed from the fishing sector’s coffers.
Credit: All Africa