November 2, 2021
Deduction of insurance from sugarcane proceeds without consent is "Fraud"
The deduction of premium for insurance bundle for cane growers from the final payment for the 2020 harvesting season without the growers’ consent is fraud, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said unknown to growers the short-changing by $2.94 per tonne of cane from the guaranteed price of $85 includes around 37 cents per tonne that has been deducted for bundle insurance scheme agreed between the Sugar Cane Growers Council and Fiji Care Insurance.
“What makes this fraudulent is the fact that the scheme is voluntary. It also doesn’t cover growers who are over the age of 65 years. It is not an authorised deduction permitted under the Master Award”.
“It means obtaining consent from growers. The SCGC Chief Executive Officer, who since his appointment this year hasn’t for once defended the rights of growers and instead has been vociferous in promoting anti-grower measures should tell the truth”.
“The yearly premium for the $10,000.00 cover is $52 per year or $1 per week. But all growers who have harvested over 141 tonnes of cane last year have had more than $52 deducted from their proceeds”.
“30% of growers who are above average producers have lost several thousands of dollars. For example if a grower harvested 500 tonnes, he or she had $185 deducted from the proceeds. If a grower harvested 1,000 tonnes, he or she lost $370”.
“This is sickening”.
“How many growers have actually signed up for the scheme in the last 3 years?”
“Who authorised the Fiji Sugar Corporation to make the deductions? Was it the SCGC? If it was, what powers has an unelected SCGC to heap financial misery on all growers, a vast majority who haven’t opted for the scheme?”
“And worse, why isn’t the deduction reflected on the statements provided to growers? "
“Why was this deliberately hidden from growers? Similarly, why weren’t deductions for industry costs and Sugar Research Institute (SRIF) shown on the statements provided to growers?”
“This is fraud. Growers who haven’t signed up for the scheme do not qualify for any insurance payments because they did not agree to the conditions of the scheme”.
“The SCGC knows this perfectly well. It is common sense. This is fraud and like a racket where unsuspecting growers without their knowledge and agreement have overpaid for something that they do not know about”.
“An act of fraud committed by an unelected SCGC that doesn’t give a damn to growers”.
“We demand that all growers be refunded immediately to reverse this illegal deduction by Friday, failing which we intend to report the matter to police."