Fisheries Minister accused of lying over 'Horizon Fisheries' issue

Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan responds to questions at the Parliament on September 27, 2021. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Hussain Rasheed has been accused of being untruthful while responding to a query by Madaveli MP Hussain Firushan.

During the Parliament session on Monday, MP Firushan asked the Minister about the time granted to Horizon Fisheries Company to build a fish factory on Gdh. Hoadedhdhoo. He asked to detail the dates and give the reasonings for deadline extensions as well.

The minister provided a detailed response, in which he said that the agreement between the government and Horizon was made in 2005.

“Our records stated that the land to develop a cold storage facility was issued on December 8, 2005. Hence, as per the work plan, the deadline to complete the cold storage in Hoadedhdhoo was December 6, 2006.”

He went on to note that after a request was made to extend the deadline, a total of 358 days were added, setting the next date in 2007 as per records.

The minister detailed that the deadline extension was granted on the basis that more time was needed to build the temporary quarters for the construction workers. He added that it was also due to a 35 percent hike in project expenses owing to an increase in steel and fuel prices.

The deadline was further extended to date in 2008 after Horizon failed to procure some items needed for the project. As per Horizon, prices for some goods increased while there were delays in receiving commitments from sellers. The company also noted difficulties in cement availability and construction workers.

The Minister stated that the sand mined from the lagoon and to be used to build a causeway between the islands of Madaveli and Hoadedhdhoo had been left on the cold storage site. He noted that the ministry was informed of delays in the project caused by the sand being left there.

“In the letter [sent by Horizon] they stated that it was difficult to provide an end date until the location is provided for the sand pile to be removed and dumped on.”

Fisheries Minister provided a detailed account of why the project has been delayed to date.

After MP Firushan was given the second opportunity to question the minister, he said that the sane pile in question was placed outside of the land issued for cold storage.

“Respected minister, [you] cannot provide answers here on behalf of them [Horizon]. You should respond here as the minister.”

In response, the minister said that his answer was based on the documents recorded at the ministry.

Subsequently, the MP objected and accused the minister of lying.

“The sand was not there. [He] is clearly being untruthful.”

During the past week also the MP had posed questions to the minister regarding this project. At the time he replied that the company was not proceeding as this would not garner any profits for them.

In May this year, the  Council of Gaafu Dhaal Atoll called to terminate the agreement made with Horizon and seize the land of over 13 hectares granted to them.