FCS deal with foreign investment makes waves
Fishing community fears agreement, lacking Sindh Cooperation Dept’s approval, will starve local industry
A recent agreement of the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) hinting at foreign investments, has caught the eye of the Sindh Cooperation Department.
The development, which has raised several concerns, came after the execution of a deal which resulted in a dozen fishing vessels arriving at the Karachi Fish Harbour.
The Registrar Cooperative Societies office, a supervisory body of the provincial government also responsible for the FCS’ audit and inspection, has expressed its lack of awareness about the agreement.
In this regard, the FCS has received a letter from the registrar’s office, seeking details of the said agreement, including its approval and execution.
According to the registrar, Suhail Baloch, who is also an official FCS member, he had no knowledge of the agreement and a letter stating his primary concerns has been issued to the department.
“The agreement talks about launching fish processing units and related projects, all financed by Chinese investments. Any agreement such as this requires a formal approval of the FCS board of directors,” he informed The Express Tribune.
In response to the registrar’s letter, the FCS has directed the issuance of the agreement’s details and proof of approval by the FCS board of directors.
In addition, the FCS management has also been asked to furnish details of the notice, agenda and minutes of the board meeting, as well as directors’ attendance and details of the firm with whom the agreement was signed.
Further, the organisation is also required to confirm whether any authority from the Sindh Cooperative Department had approved the said agreement.
As per FCS manager Shaukat Hussain, the agreement was signed upon the board of directors’ approval.
“FCS bylaws authorise the board of directors to take such decisions and make agreements. The company with whom the agreement is signed will introduce modern fishing and processing plants in the country. This will boost Pakistan’s fish exports, worth 1,000 million dollar annually,” he said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Yousuf Baloch, an elected director on the FCS board, said that the FCS management had misguided its elected directors about the agreement. According to him, they were kept in dark about the agreement’s details and were only informed that a foreign company would establish ice plants at the fish harbour.
“Only a select few members of the FCS board were taken into confidence about the agreement. The management has yet not shared its details with the majority of the elected directors,” he said.
“Moreover, even the objections raised by some elected directors at board meetings were not made part of the proceedings. They have also lodged complaints with the registrar in this regard,” Baloch claimed.
On the other hand, the local fishing community has also expressed apprehensions about the agreement, fearing a disastrous impact on their livelihood.
According to a fishermen’s spokesperson, Saeed Baloch, the agreement is against their interests as it could potentially deprive them of their catch.
“The FCS has granted fishing licences to over 100 foreign vessels. These modern vessels are called factory ships and are equipped with entire processing plants. If allowed to function, they will not only deprive the local fishermen of their catch but also kill thousands of jobs associated with the industry,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2020.