Response to issuing of trawler licenses

A few weeks ago, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Member of Parliament for the APNU/AFC asked in the National Assembly of the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Mr. Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, several questions relating to the grant of trawler Licenses. 

Among the questions asked, were to whom two new trawler licenses issued for the years 2020 to 2021, by the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.  The Honourable, Minister of Agriculture answered all the questions posed with as much candour and frankness as possible but did not disclose the name of the recipient of the licenses, in keeping with extant Parliamentary practices which have been sustained and upheld by repeated rulings of different Speakers of the House.  

Unfortunately, certain sections of the media have wrongly interpreted the omission of the name of the recipient of the Licenses, as a deliberate non-disclosure by the Honourable, Minister of Agriculture, failing to recognize that the Honourable Minister was simply complying with extant parliamentary practice and procedures of not disclosing names of persons in answers to questions posed in the House. 

In order to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability, the Government wishes to disclose the name and address of the recipient of the Licenses: Rampersaud Sookhdeo, La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara. 

Records indicate that Mr. Sookhdeo has been in the fishing industry for over fifteen years. Additionally, he was operating under the name Haseed Enterprise in Trinidad and Tobago. He owns four trawlers (shrimp, red snapper, cage fishing, long liner fishing). He employs a number of Guyanese in his operations but was forced to relocate from Trinidad to Guyana because of Covid-19 restrictions and regulations. 

Furthermore, Minister Mustapha met with members of the GATOSP on January 22, 2021 during which a number of issues were raised. Both parties decided that there should be a committee established to properly resolve issues and determine the way forward. Members of the committee, which will be convened by the Ministry’s Director General, Madanlall Ramraj, include Ruben Charles, Leslie Ramalho, Dawn Maison of the GATOSP, the Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts and the Chief Technical Officer, George Jervis.

The Minister is committed to working and consulting with all stakeholders in the industry to ensure the sustainable development of the sector.