Fisheries deputy minister Sylvia Makgone says there is no desperation on the part of government in terms of auctioning the governmental objective quota that was previously disposed of by the state-owned Fishcor, which is currently embroiled in an international fishing bribery scandal.

Government earlier this month announced its intention to auction the governmental objective quota to local and international bidders.

At least 40% of the said quota is reserved for local operators, while the remaining 60% is to be offered to the highest international bidders.

Fisheries minister Albert Kawana last week indicated that the auctioning of quotas was the only way Namibia could acquire foreign currency to help mitigate the costs of the effects of Covid-19 in the country, including procuring medical equipment and supplies.

The government plans to auction 72 000 metric tons of horse mackerel, 11 000 metric tons of hake and 392 metric tons of monk to both local and international players.

“This was usually done through Fishcor. Now we are exploring other avenues. There is no desperation here.

Fishcor used to dispose of the governmental objective quota in any manner they deemed fit. That is why we as a government have taken over the process,” Makgone explained during a panel discussion at the Covid-19 communication centre yesterday.

She added that proceeds from this specific quota in the past have been used to advance various government objectives, including social and economic development of the Namibian people.

Makgone dismissed suggestions that the timing for the auction was bad and that government was desperate.

She added the government would in fact be able to determine the true worth of its natural resources through the auctioning process.

Information minister Peya Mushelenga pointed out there is a misconception when it comes to the issue of fishing quotas, saying Namibians should understand that only the governmental objective quota is being auctioned. “There are three types of quotas in terms of the Marine Act. This includes the commercial quota which is reserved for allocation to local companies and is allocated to companies operating in the fishing industry,” he said. Mushelenga then said the second one is the non-commercial quota referred to as government quota, used to advance the governmental objectives. “The third is the reserved quota which is a small portion that may be allocated for commercial or government objectives, depending on the need,” he said. He added because of Fishcor’s involvement in the Fishrot scandal, the government had to terminate the company from the governmental objective quota and had to devise a transparent method, which is intended to test the market to ascertain the true value of the country’s marine resources. “We had to explore other avenues to ensure a transparent and credible method and to achieve accountability and that proceeds unlike in the past will be directly paid into the state revenue accounts and to ensure the proceeds are made part of the budget,” he said. Mushelenga further explained that 95% of the hake quota went for commercial companies and only 4.3% was reserved for government. In addition, he said, 87% of the horse mackerel quota was reserved for commercial purposes and only 13% towards government. The government objective quota only represents 5% of the total monk quota, while 95% was reserved for commercial purposes. “It isn’t only to procure medicine but includes, among others, decongestion of informal settlements, expenses on police activities such as roadblocks,” Mushelenga explained. He added that the government will continue to look for solutions that are acceptable to all stakeholders in terms of the fishing industry.