The Fishermen’s Union has called to arrange income support to deep sea tuna fishermen under the Income Support Allowance for those affected by COVID-19.
A press statement issued by the Fishermen’s Union said that from April to July 2020, the tuna caught by fishermen is being sold under MVR 35 as opposed to the normal prices between MVR 40 to MVR 50. And with this drop collapsing the average to about half, fishermen have not been making a monthly average of MVR 5,000.
The Union also raised concern that the government leased money for those buying fish from fishermen thus disqualifying fishermen from the income support allowance.
Income Support Allowance program began on 20 May 2020 as part of the MVR 2.5 billion relief package to assist the economy. The regulations state that only those who either lost their jobs, had a significant pay cut, as well as those who were forced on no-pay leaves along with freelancers, will be eligible for the allowance.
It also states that those who have been suspended and are on no-pay leave with receive an allowance of MVR 5,000. For those who had a pay cut, if their salary is below MVR 5000, the amount they receive now will be deducted from MVR 5,000 with the remainder being their allowance. In addition to this, freelancers with zero income will receive the MVR 5,000 allowance.
A research conducted by the Maldives National University said that five in ten Maldivians had their employment affected by COVID-19.