Namsov’s questionable figures

19 September 2014 Author  

FURTHER investigations into the alleged loss of jobs by Namsov workers due to quota cuts have revealed that the company appears to have provided misleading information in order to depict a bogus crisis. Last week the company claimed that it had to lay off 120 workers from Trachurus Fishing, a subsidiary of Namsov Fishing, because of the way the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau allocated horse mackerel quotas.

However, in their audited annual financial results for the year ended 30 June 2014 Bidvest Namibia, to whom Namsov belongs, declared a trading profit of N$407 million from fishing alone.

This has raised questions about how the company can claim to have incurred such a financial burden after a reduction of its quota in 2012 that it had to retrench over a hundred workers, when it declared healthy profits.

Even in the event that one isolates Trachurus Fishing as an entity and take into account that the ministry reduced its quota between 2012 and 2014 by 20 percent, Trachurus nonetheless declared an N$42 million dividend for the year 2014.

An in house Bidvest publication under the Bidfish section quotes Bidvest Namibia Fisheries Holdings MD Jan Arnold acknowledging that the company had done well.

He stated that the company’s fishing division had actually benefited from the strong US dollar-rand exchange rate, despite the price pressures in the horse mackerel industry.

The publication further stated that the group’s pelagic interests benefited from stronger market prices.

Mystery still surrounds Trachurus Fishing’s claim that it had to retrench 120 employees.

A Namsov crewmember, who preferred to remain anonymous, disclosed that the company in fact had to call in workers to come and carry out maintenance and repairs of the vessels.

“Yes some are at home, but the company called in others to work together with the non-Namibian crew to do repair and maintenance work,” he said.

The employee said the company explained that it opted to retain foreign crew workers and retrench Namibians, because the contracts of the foreign workers were more binding and that the company had no other alternative.

Sources in the industry point out that to maintain its high profits, Namsov and its subsidiaries harvest their quota in the shortest possible time to reduce the cost of paying crew on their fishing vessels.

Namsov again chose not to respond, despite having received a detailed set of questions about the total number of Namibian workers Trachurus Fishing employed and how many workers it had retrenched.

The company gave a very evasive answer about why the company signs different contracts with their Namibian and foreign workers, and the time span in which the company harvests in order to make such high profits.

“It would not be in the interest of Namsov Fishing Enterprises to comment on only one aspect of its operations.

“As a company that is a part of a listed entity we comply with listing governance. This means that we are open to and encourage professional independent audits by accredited firms covering amongst others your questions pertaining to employment and the Namibianisation component thereof; and so in the context of the horse mackerel and wider fishing industry,” Tuna Willem responded.

Willem is the Chief Sustainability officer and Namsov Community Trust Administrator.


Fishcor politics


Minister of Fisheries Bernard Esau in an interview on Wednesday dismissed claims that he had acted in contravention of the law when he appointed James Hatuikulipi as the chairperson of the Fishcor board.

A report in a local daily this week quoted the Fishcor Act of 1991, which states that directors of Fishcor would appoint one of their members as chairperson of the board.

Esau, however, said that one had to read the Fishcor Act in conjunction with the State Owned Enterprises Governance Council (SOEGC) Act, which states that the line minister has responsibility for the appointment of the board chair of an SOE.

“I have in no way acted in contravention of the law and to bring clarity to the matter I consulted with the Governor’s Trust, in particular its chairperson Samuel Nujoma, before making the appointment of the board chair and its members.

“I also consulted the governor of the Khomas Regions Laura McLeod-Katjirua, and many various things were taken into consideration when these decisions were being made,” he said.

Esau also said that although he knew Hatuikulipi, he was not related to him and even if that was the case, he appointed him because of his competencies and the contribution he could make.

Ironically, a certain governor known to the Windhoek Observer apparently attempted to sway Esau into making his sister a director on the board of the Namibia Fish Consumption Trust, but did not succeed.

The very same governor although he was unsuccessful also approached the fisheries minister to appoint Swapo Youth League Member Alec Boois as the acting CEO of Fishcor.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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