Parliamentary committee finds Fisheries Minister Zaha neglectful of her duties

Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Parliament’s Regulations Committee has found Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed neglectful of her duties and responsibilities as a government minister.

The committee came to the conclusion following its review of the failure of the Fisheries Ministry to create many of the regulations which it is required to complete within 90 days under the Fisheries Act.

The committee report on the review states that the Fisheries Ministry had failed to create the regulations it was required to under the Fisheries Act.

The committee noted that the Interpretations Act established that where an Act prescribed a specific course of action, the fulfillment of the said course of action must be treated as an unavoidable duty or obligation.

“With this being the case, the committee finds that the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture has violated the Fisheries Act by failing to uphold the duty it had been clearly charged with under the Act within the mandated time, and by continuing to fail in fulfilling said duty even after the mandated time expired and to this day. And the committee members are in unanimous agreement that the Minister herself has been neglectful of her duties,” reads the committee’s report.

The committee said that when it questioned Fisheries Ministry officials regarding the reason for its failure to create the regulations, the officials responded that the Fisheries Ministry was engaged in creating a management plan, and would be engaged in the creation of the management plan for at least two years.

And that when pressed further regarding the progress of the management plan, the committee said it found the progress to be insufficient.

The committee said that the Fisheries Ministry officials had cited lack of resources and manpower as one reason for the failure creation of the regulations.

However, the Fisheries Ministry had not previously communicated any such obstacle to the Parliament, and neither had it reached out to the Attorney General’s Office or the President’s Office for assistance, noted the committee in its report.

“And when questioned whether the ministry had faced any political pressure in completing the crayon of the regulations required under the Act within the mandated time period, the ministry responded that it had not,” said the committee in its report.

The committee also noted that while Fisheries Ministry officials cited the existence of exclusive agreements as the biggest obstacle to opening up the market to the committee, it had not found any mention of exclusive rights on any agreement.

The report has been sent to the parliamentary floor for debate.