Government’s cash flow problems in recent years have often prevented the BVI Fishing Complex from promptly paying fishermen for their catch, officials said.

According to the agency’s 2010 and 2011 annual reports tabled Monday before the House of Assembly, the government-run body that supports the territory’s fishing industry has faced dissatisfied fisherman, who sometimes had to wait several weeks for payment.

In many cases the monthly cash amounts that government allocated to the complex to pay for fish weren’t sufficient, the reports stated.

“This posed a problem for us because when the monies were expended each month, … it prevented us from processing any new purchase orders until Finance allocated more money at the beginning of the following month,” the 2011 report stated.

Attempts to reach officials at the complex were unsuccessful as of the Beacon’s print deadline yesterday.

According to the reports, the complex limits the amount of fish it buys from fishermen during certain pre-scheduled times of the year depending on its customers’ needs.

When they know about the limits in advance, some fishermen use the time to repair their boats. But the cash flow issues meant that when the complex ran through its monthly allocation, it had to unexpectedly impose the limits. The 2011 report recommends that the Treasury establish a revolving account to pay for fish.

Freezer shortage

As well as the financing issues, the complex was operating with one working freezer in 2010 and 2011, according to the reports. New freezers were paid for but hadn’t yet been delivered, the 2011 report states, though it doesn’t offer further explanation.

Additionally, some of the complex’s employees exhibited “absenteeism and tardiness” in both years, but these human resource issues “did not seem to affect their overall performance in achieving the organisational objectives,” the 2011 report stated.

The complex’s revenue from seafood sales in both years exceeded the amounts the complex had budgeted to pay fishermen. Over $972,000 was brought in from sales in 2011, compared to the $950,000 budgeted. In 2010, sales revenues totaled more than $1.1 million, compared to the $1 million budgeted.

“Currently, pricing is set at rates that don’t meet minimum break-even return on the overall investment put forth by the budget,” the 2011 report states. “However, the prices are set sufficiently enough to break even on the investment made to purchase seafood.”

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