Bahrain: A new fund to support fishermen has been rejected by the Shura Council.
The proposal was approved by MPs last month despite concerns by the government that it would cost BD1 million to set it up.
The fund would have seen one per cent taken from profits of companies dredging sand from the seabed.
Council public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Fouad Al Haji said yesterday that fishermen were already receiving government aid through Tamkeen.
They were also getting fuel and other needs at subsidised rates in addition to benefiting from voluntary insurance under the Pension Fund Authority (PFA) as professionals.
“Fishermen are already getting the support they need, if not more, from the government. Under the fund, they would have been limited to what they would have got from it, which is a flat monthly payment between BD300 and BD500 depending on their fishing capability,” he said.
“The fund’s set-up doesn’t mention if the fishermen included are professionals or part-timers and whether the 1pc will be taken from the net profit of the companies or for each operation.
“What will happen if dredging is stopped; will the government be obliged to cover the payments?
“Bahrain’s two professional fishermen’s societies had opposing views on the matter. They back the fund but don’t know how it will operate and who will benefit from it.”
Committee vice-chairman Juma Al Ka’abi said the fund will end up destroying the profession as Bahraini fishermen will sit at home and receive payments from the government, while leasing their boats to expatriates and taking fixed monthly payments from them.
“We want Bahraini fishermen to continue respecting the profession and not having it end up in the hands of expatriates. It is not about the money. The profession is profitable as it is now. We want Bahrainis to continue running it for generations to come.
“The fund doesn’t serve the purpose. MPs may have wanted to do good but the move will do more harm to the industry.”