Heavyweight fishing company Namsov, which is owned by the Bidvest business empire, made more than N$1.2 billion in profits from state-related fishing concessions between 2012 and 2015.
The Namibian reports that while Bidvest Namibia has over the past few years been crying foul about being negatively affected by a reduction of its fishing quotas, the company’s fishing interests remain highly profitable and a major contributor to its profits, Bidvest Namibia’s latest annual financial results show.
Statistics compiled by The Namibian show that the fishing arm of Bidvest made a profit of N$280 million in 2012, N$211 million in 2013, and N$407 million in 2014.
Profits decreased by around N$62 million to N$345 million over the year to the end of June 2015, which is still considered a handsome return. More than 80% of the profits made by Bidvest Namibia come from the fishing sector through various fishing companies under Namsov.
With its fishing interests included, Bidvest Namibia, the main company, recorded a total trading profit of N$415 million in the year to the end of June.
Another report by Namsov shows that the company paid more than N$75 million into community projects, scholarships and sport events from1991 to 2015.
Fisheries Minister, Bernhard Esau and attorney general Sacky Shanghala have in the past claimed that Bidvest is bitter because a decision to amend the Marine Resources Act of 2000 to accommodate newcomers to the fishing industry would reduce the company’s dominance in the fishing sector.
Esau and Shanghala presented figures to the National Council two weeks ago to motivate amendments to the law on Namibia’s marine resources. This came after a business group went to the National Council in an attempt to convince councillors to block the amendments.
The minister has charged that companies who went to the National Council are greedy and have a sense of entitlement.
According to statistics, the ministry gave Namsov, the main company used by Bidvest for its fishing interests, horse mackerel quotas totalling around 1,2 million metric tonnes, with a total value of more than N$2 billion, between 1997 and 2015.
The figures also show that Namsov’s quota allocation of 33 600 metric tonnes of horse mackerel this year is the lowest for the company since 1997. Namsov has on average received an annual horse mackerel quota of 65 000 metric tonnes since 1997.
Esau has in the past said that he had advised Bidvest to add value to the fish before exporting it but his calls were allegedly ignored.
Bidvest admitted that large quantities of Namibian horse mackerel went to West Africa. Despite claims by Bidvest that they are being squeezed by the ministry of fisheries, top-level salaries in the company paint a picture that all is well.
Latest figures by Bidvest show that the company paid annual remuneration of N$7,6 million to three of their top executive managers while directors earned just over N$1 million.
Bidvest Namibia chief executive Sebby Kankondi earned N$2,3 million in 2013, which includes his salary and a N$400 000 bonus. Bidvest’s latest annual report shows that he now earns around N$2,5 million per year, including a performance bonus of N$460 000.
Kankondi declined to provide The Namibian the total value of fishing quotas of his company.
Asked about their massive profits, Kankondi said: “To make profit you need to invest. To invest you need to understand risk. Profit is therefore a function of risk taking. Entrepreneurs understand this game of risk and rewards.”
“It is simply saying invest, take risk in harvesting the resources and if you do it prudently you will be rewarded,” he added.
According to Kankondi receiving a quota is one thing, and harvesting that quota bis another, in which massive investments are needed.
“Fishing in Namibian waters is capital intensive. Therefore the bigger the quota the more money is required to buy vessels and also the more employment opportunities are created. I hope this economics is clear to the attorney general and the minister of fisheries,” he added.
He said Namsov has invested more than N$1 billion in Namibia and that their tax contribution is also over a N$1 billion.
Kankondi said previous fisheries ministers such as former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Abraham Iyambo and Helmut Angula were guided by the law in the allocations of quota.
“The administration was run competently, good governance and transparency prevailed. When transparency prevailed the fertility of corruption was extinguished and investors such as Namsov and any business could predict and plan their investments and their annual production with ease,” he said.
The Bidvest boss said Shanghala should assist the fisheries minister to make the register of fishing quota recipients public in order to promote transparency.
He said it would be a tragedy for the war on poverty if the empowered turned a blind eye on consultations since consultations included all people who do not have a voice in parliament.
“When we don’t consult, their voices are not heard. Thus the power will only remain with those that agree that laws must be passed in secrecy. This is exactly what we are saying when we keep quiet,” he added.
He said the harsh reality of combating poverty is to create a climate conducive to investors so that they can fuel the economy with their investments.
“It is not to dish out resources to people who only sell them and enjoy the conspicuous consumption of the material world, without paying taxes to assist government with the fight of poverty like Namsov is doing,” he said.
Esau told The Namibian yesterday that Namsov is being economical with the truth and that he is still pushing ahead with his plans to add value to the fishing sector. The minister said the fact that Namsov told him recently about their plans to build a new factory is proof that he was right all all long to urge them to add value to the fish instead of exporting raw fish.