MPs voice concern over Gasim attending committee in Villa Chairman's capacity

Parliamentarians have voiced concern over Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim attending the Parliament's Economic Committee in the capacity of the Chairman of Horizon Fisheries company.

As per an agreement between the government and Horizon Fisheries, a 13.5-hectare land was allocated to the company 17 years ago to establish a fish factory in Ga. Hoadedhdhoo. While several years have passed since the land was allocated, the fish factory has not been established on the land. The issue was submitted to the Parliament by the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Madaveli MP Hussain Firushan.

According to his complaint, Gasim's main company, Villa, agreed to build a fish factory with a cold storage capacity of 3,000 tonnes in Hoadedhdhoo. A 160-tonne brine tank and a 50-tonne plant were also agreed to be installed at the factory.

In order to investigate the matter, officials from Horizon company and Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan, who is also a member of Gasim's Jumhooree Party, were summoned to the Parliament's Economic Committee on Tuesday. Horizon was represented on the committee by its parent company, Villa Group's Chairman Gasim Ibrahim, the group's Managing Director and Gasim's eldest son Ibrahim Siyad Qasim, Villa Group Secretary Ibrahim Rashid, and a Villa director.

While Gasim attended the committee in the capacity of Villa's Chairman, he himself is a member of the Economic Committee. The committee members were concerned that Gasim was representing his company at a committee he was a member of, which is a conflict of interest as stated in the rules of the Parliament. Some members said that Gasim should not have been able to take part in Tuesday's committee meeting.

Following the concerns of the members, the committee Chairman and Alifushi MP, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain (Bigey), decided to conduct the meeting behind closed doors and allowed Gasim to remain at the meeting. However, he will not be able to attend any committee meeting where decisions will be made regarding Horizon, he said.

Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain also asked for the committee meeting and the report to be prepared after the committee decides on the matter to be kept confidential.

Speaking to the committee, Gasim shared in detail the difficulties encountered in carrying out Horizon's work in Hoadedhdhoo. If the government wishes, the company is ready to give up its investment in Hoadedhdhoo and Sh. Keekimini, he said.

"Honestly, I'm telling. I don't want to be involved in this fight either," he said and went on to thank the MP who filed the Horizon case.

Firushan had earlier summoned Fisheries Minister, Dr. Hussain Rasheed, to the Parliament over the land issued to Villa and questioned him regarding the matter.