Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, has remained mum on the identity of an operator, who recently benefitted from trawler licences issued by the Department of Fisheries.
Zulfikar, in a written response to Coalition Member of Parliament (MP) and former Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, confirmed that two licences were indeed granted, but as to the identity of the licensees, the minister responded: “They were issued to a well-established Guyanese operator in the fishing industry who was duly qualified to receive the said licence, who complied with the requisite procedures and satisfied all the legal requirements in relation thereto”.
These questions posted in the National Assembly, come months after Ramjattan accused the government of being embroiled in nepotism; noting that the operator is a ‘friend’ of the administration.
Ramjattan is not the only one to have reservations about the granting of the licences, in fact, according to a Stabroek News article dated December 20, 2020: it was the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors (GATOSP) that brought the issue to the fore when it disclosed that the two licences had been granted.
According to the newspaper, the organization has since protested, saying that the approval of the licences is in contravention of sustainable fishing practices. It was further revealed that subsequent to that protest, the Ministry of Agriculture initiated a probe to determine the circumstances under which the approval was given, however, findings of that probe were never made public.