Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday plastered the APNU+AFC government for not taking determined action to avoid the ban that has now been placed by the US on catfish imports from Guyana.
The US Embassy here has said that Guyana was notified since November 2015 of new regulations to take effect and was given an extended period up to February this year but was still not in compliance. By contrast, the US said that other countries have come into compliance. The embassy said that technical help had also been offered to Guyana for it to become compliant.
Neither the Ministry of Agriculture nor the Ministry of Public Health has explained the failure to ensure compliance. In the meanwhile catfish exporters have begun to complain about the impact of the ban on their livelihoods.
A statement from Jagdeo’s office follows:
I have noted with concern the silence from the APNU+AFC Coalition on the plight of hundreds of fishermen, following the ban on exports of all catfish species to the United States of America. I have also seen the arguments from government quarters that this is somehow a ‘protectionist move’ by the United States, but these have since been exposed as shallow and disingenuous arguments. Had it not been for the statement from the USA’s Embassy in Guyana, stakeholders would have maintained a misguided view.
I am of the firm view that the Coalition Government is fully responsible for the plight of local fishermen, given that they were notified of the USA’s pending changes to export regulations since November 2015. The Coalition Government, despite having received notice of these changes, failed to communicate effectively with the stakeholders of the fisheries sector, many of whom have invested heavily in this area. To make matters worse, the Coalition Government received an extension until February 3, 2018, to bring Guyana into compliance with the new export regulations and failed again. Failure, I believe, as we have seen with evidence of incompetence, continues to be the defining characteristic of the current Administration. I have noted the offer by the USA to provide technical assistance to the Government of Guyana to help Guyana fishermen and women to comply with the new export regulations. I call on the Coalition Government to immediately take measures to support compliance with the new regulations and also take measures to support the local fisheries sector in the meantime. The fisheries sector cannot be allowed to suffer irreparable losses, as we have seen in other productive sectors, since the APNU+AFC Coalition Government took office.