Wednesday 1st April, 2020.
The National Federation Party says it is highly unfortunate that cane growers will have to wait at least till this Friday or even early next week to receive the 3rd cane payment for the 2019 harvesting and crushing season.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad says he has spoken to the Permanent Secretary for Sugar Yogesh Karan on the issue after both he and the NFP Office were inundated with calls from concerned growers following no notification from the Sugar Industry Tribunal or Fiji Sugar Corporation about the amount and time of payment.
This is despite the Sugar Master Award clearly stipulating that the 3rd cane payment should be announced and paid to growers before 31st March every year.
“I spoke to Mr Karan and raised with him concerns of the growers. He said Government was processing the transfer of funds following the parliamentary approval of $50 million for cane payments as part of the supplementary budget”.
“Mr Karan told me he is hopeful everything can be finalised by Thursday so that the payment is processed and paid to growers on Friday or latest early next week”.
Professor Prasad says he understands the frustration of concerned growers as for the first time a cane payment is delayed and even its amount is not known.
“We know this is a gross violation of the Master Award. Growers have every right to be angry as they receive their total payment for their produce over 16 months. No business can afford this mode of payment and a slight delay to a scheduled payout raises the growers’ ire”.
“Growers are also experiencing difficulties due to these uncertain times and we ask Government to direct the Fiji Sugar Corporation not to make any deductions from the proceeds of individual growers for any expenses”.
“The delay in payment also gives government time to talk to banks and the Sugar Cane Growers Fund to defer deductions of loan repayments from this as well as the 4th payment scheduled to be paid in May to give growers some much needed relief”.
Hon. Prof. Biman Prasad