By Lazeena Yearwood
Distribution of the one-off $150,000 cash grants promised to the country’s fisherfolk by the government will commence as soon as next week following an ongoing period of registration.
Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha made the announcement on Wednesday during outreaches at East Coast Demerara locations – Montrose, Mon Repos and Annandale – where scores of fishermen gathered to meet with the minister.
The outreach follows President Irfaan Ali’s announcement on Tuesday that each of some 5,000 fishermen who are registered will receive the cash grant to support the fishing industry.
This one-off cash grant comes just weeks after the President announced that $1 billion was set aside by the government for the purchase of fertiliser for free distribution among farmers across the country.
The minister reminded that there has been an increase in prices for supplies and that the industry was affected by low catches for several months. According to Mustapha, the ministry is making a note of all the names of fishermen and will return to locations to have the list assessed before the final stages are completed within the week.
“When we finish that list, we will bring it back here and I want you all to scrutinize the list and say who are entitled. We will [strike] off their names and when we finalize the list within a week’s time from now, you will receive your $150,000,” Mustapha told the fishermen.
Further, he said that the persons registering should know that they will not receive more than one cash grant.
He emphasised that there have been several cash grants distributed by the government and it was found that persons often attempt to cheat the system. The Agriculture Minister warned people that this will not be the case with this cash grant.
“Let me give an example; if you have a boat that has eight persons or five persons, the five persons will receive, and the boat owner will receive… if you own 10 boats, you will not receive 10 times.”
Mustapha pleaded with the fishermen to be transparent and honest when registering.
Meanwhile, during the meetings, the fishermen raised concerns about the fishing industry.
Fishermen at Montrose said that for several years they have been displaced from working, explaining that the channel is not clear, preventing them from working at the site.
As a result, they have moved to a site at Ogle but there are challenges with their safety at this location as well, especially during the nights.
Mustapha promised to look into the situation.