Fisheries Corporation faces financial drain of Rs.100 mn monthly due to alleged middlemen practices
Colombo (LNW): The Sri Lanka Fisheries Corporation is reportedly experiencing monthly losses of up to Rs.100 million, attributed to the procurement of fish through private traders instead of engaging in direct transactions with fishermen, a report by Dairy Mirror disclosed.
This practice, allegedly supported by influential bureaucrats, is believed to benefit middlemen with political connections, creating a perceived nexus of corruption that significantly impacts the Corporation’s financial standing, according to report.
With a market share of three percent, mismanagement has resulted in substantial losses, reaching Rs.6.8 billion by mid-year.
The Corporation, responsible for purchasing approximately 250 tonnes of fish, holds a three percent market share and serves as the exclusive fish supplier to state hospitals under an agreement signed 14 years ago during Nimal Siripala de Silva’s tenure as Health Minister.
However, concerns arise regarding pricing competitiveness, with allegations of overpricing involving bureaucrats from both the Corporation and the Health Ministry, who are accused of benefiting from additional pricing markups.
In the midst of a financial crisis, the Corporation faces outstanding payments exceeding Rs.600 million to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees Trust Fund (ETF).
The Corporation’s trade union collective has communicated to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, asserting that the supply agreement with health authorities is plagued by corruption issues, including overpricing and the provision of land-frozen fish instead of high-quality sea-frozen products.
The unions argue that hospitals should receive fish frozen immediately after catching to ensure patients are provided with seafood free of bacterial infections.
However, they accuse the current Corporation management of supplying land-frozen fish, disregarding potential health risks.