MVR 157 mln needed to bring Fonaddoo to operation

Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan has said the fish purchasing facility established in Th. Funaddoo can be brought back into operation by securing USD 10.2 million -- MVR 157.3 million.

Minister Hussain disclosed the information in a written response sent to Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz, who had inquired from the minister when government fish company MIFCO would begin purchasing fish from Funaddoo.

In his response, Dr. Hussain said the biggest challenge faced in bringing Fonaddoo to operation was that the island's port was extensively damaged. He said a large repair is required to fix the harbor, and the current state of the harbor causes significant challenges in buying and exporting fish from the island.

The minister said it would cost USD 10.2 million -- MVR 157.3 million to bring the factory back to operational status - this includes the cost of repairing the port and the entire facility, he said. However, there is no way to get the money from the state budget, and the government has therefore handed over the work to MIFCO to secure the funds from banks, he added.

"We have been in consultation with the Finance Ministry to raise funds needed to being Fonaddoo into operation. As per the ministry's recommendation, the funds for the project have not been included in the 2022 budget. The state's current cash flow situation makes it difficult to allocate funds from the state budget. Therefore, we have instructed Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO) to secure the required funds from banks," he said.

Dr. Hussain said it is expected to take another two months to arrange a loan from banks due to MIFCO's financial situation. Once the loan is arranged, Fonaddoo can be brought to operation within eight months, and the purchase of fish from the island will begin by May next year, he assured.

A fish purchasing facility was developed in Funaddoo in 2004 by former Home Minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali's Funadoo Tuna Products. The company stopped its fish purchase operation in 2008, and the Bank of Maldives announced the island's sale after the company failed to repay the loan taken to build the island.

After conducting a feasibility study, the government bought the factory and handed it over to MIFCO on March 6 this year.