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Two fishermen deported for urging protests against new auction regulations

KUWAIT: A large crowd of people are seen at the main fish market in Sharq on Thursday. – Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh

KUWAIT: Two Egyptian fishermen were deported due to violations at the fish market, informed sources said. They were also refusing to go to sea, and urged other fishermen not to fish in protest against the commerce ministry’s decisions with regards to organizing fish auctions, the sources added. The commerce ministry sought the help of the interior ministry to deport the fishermen, and provided names of another group of fishermen, who are awaiting deportation, the sources further indicated.

The sources said the commerce ministry coordinated with the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources and the Public Authority for Manpower to check violations by expat workers as well as fishermen at the fish market. They said names of all fishermen are accounted for and registered at the three government entities. Meanwhile, the agriculture authority is contemplating granting new fishing licenses to Kuwaitis, which is expected to be announced within two months. They said the plan is to accept National Assembly proposals to issue the licenses to Kuwaiti youth under the umbrella of supporting small business projects.

Kuwait Competition Protection Agency had said Thursday it was investigating alleged practices harmful to competition in the fish market, which were reported by newspapers and social media. The agency sent a team to monitor alleged illegal practices and to take action accordingly, the agency’s Executive Director Dr Abdullah Al-Uwaisi said in a statement. He asserted the agency was pursuing all measures to address monopoly in order to guarantee fair prices for all consumers. Uwaisi officially asked the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for documents related to the alleged violations monitored by the ministry’s inspectors at the fish market. The agency is a government department tasked with monitoring competition in markets in Kuwait.

The commerce ministry’s new circular released last week helped drop prices before a reported fishermen strike caused prices to soar back to their original high rates. Ministry inspectors were present at the daily auction to monitor the implementation of the new circular, which was imposed with hopes of preventing alleged manipulation of prices. The circular had been released in response to complaints that auctioneers, who are mostly expatriates, allegedly raise the prices to increase their profits. The circular stipulates that expatriates are not allowed to enter fish auctions unless authorized.

In other news, Director of Public Relations at the Social Affairs Ministry Abdullah Al-Hamdan said there is joint cooperation between his ministry and the interior ministry with regards to checking donation collecting violations. He said in case any person is found collecting donations personally, he will face consequences. He said the social affairs ministry received applications for donation collection for the udhiya (sacrifice) project in April, and the number of participating charitable societies reached 37 for projects outside Kuwait and 22 for udhiya inside the country.

By A Saleh

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