‘We had the proof’- Guyana’s Agri. Minister vindicated by revelations in Surinamese Parliament

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Hours after the Surinamese Parliament heard that much-needed fishing licences were indeed promised to Guyana, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha says that the local authorities are vindicated by the revelation.

“As I was saying all the time that we had the proof, that’s the proof.

“I don’t know how they got it but those were the letters and the commitment they made to us and we submitted all our documents and all the requirements,” Mustapha told the News Room on Wednesday.

The Surinamese Parliament on Tuesday heard that the Dutch-speaking country’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Prahlad Sewdien did indeed commit to granting fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen, based on an email correspondence between him and Mustapha.

That correspondence, seen by the News Room, stated that the Surinamese government will issue fishing licences to Guyana from January 2021.

Sewdien even proposed that a government-owned company be appointed to act as the business partner for Guyanese fishermen and to facilitate the signing of a “vesselbasing” agreement to simplify the process.

Apparently stemming from the deepening relations between Guyana and Suriname, Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced last year that Surinamese authorities will issue those much-needed fishing licenses directly to Guyanese.

This announcement was made during a joint press conference held at the end of Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi visit to Guyana in August 2021. Subsequently, it was noted that 150 special SK licenses would be provided by the Dutch-speaking country to Guyanese fisherfolk.

This was expected to end a longstanding, exploitative arrangement. To date, however, those licences have not been provided.

On Wednesday, Mustapha said that his Surinamese counterpart has not yet engaged him on granting those licences now. He also said that a promised meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers has not yet occurred.

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