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Fisheries Minister defends himself of accusations

Minister Esau has been accused of 'favoritism' to Paragon Investment in exchange for his trip to World Cup. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)

Click on the flag for more information about NamibiaNAMIBIA 
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
In statements to the press, Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernard Esau claimed he was being sued by three fishing firms in an attempt to politically harm him.
These three companies -- Namsov Fishing EnterprisesEmeritus Fishing Limited and Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia Limited – took the minister and the Government to Court for the cuts to their horse mackerel quotas. And Esau threatened to withhold their fishing quotas in response to their accusations of favoritism and conflict of interest in issuing fishing quotas, New Era informed.
In this regard, according to The Namibian newspaper, Minister Esau had expanded fishing quotas to Paragon Investment Holdings in June and travelled as part of a delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Hage Geingob to watch the final of the World Cup in Brazil in July on a chartered government jet allegedly supported by that firm’s owner.
In his defense, the minister explained the initial allocation of quotas to all mid-water trawlers in the horse-mackerel industry was carried out “on a pro-rata bases.”
“The second allocation in June/July to all right holders and non-right holders was done based on my request to add value to our horse-mackerel,” he remarked.
“The issue of horse-mackerel is that it has a different value in the sea, when landed as well as when processed in our land-based factories. We want the landing process here and then the canning to be done here. We don’t want to export our fish in its raw form, we want processing, packing and canning to be done in the country to add value,” the minister added.
Esau further explained that a number of firms had already exhausted their allocated quotas but that if they made any new investment or added value and can prove that they have, he “would have treated them as such.”
However, an editorial published in The Namibian claimed: “IF Fisheries minister Bernard Esau and a few of his officials are not dishonest then they had better given good reason as to why they are withholding public information about how they've been dishing out state resources to individuals and their businesses.”
This editorial concluded that “the minister’s lack of transparency,” suggests that something 'fishy' is afoot. And it added that Esau's decisions “have only caused harm to the masses while favouring family, friends, political and business cronies as well as himself and his officials.”
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