Thursday 25th June 2020
The National Federation Party says the last minute deferment of crushing at the country’s largest sugar mill at Lautoka is a sham and yet another failure of the Fiji First Government to ensure the state of preparedness of the mil before the start of the season.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad has described the deferment as gross negligence and failure on the part of Fiji Sugar Corporation, Sugar Industry Tribunal and the Ministry of Sugar to ensure the certification of the state of preparedness of the mill before announcing the start date of harvesting and crushing.
“The decision has resulted in huge losses for cane growers and lorry operators who would have financially struggled to ensure preparedness on their part for a smooth start to the season only to see their hard work dashed by sheer negligence on the part of FSC and other stakeholders who are fully controlled by Government”.
“Growers will now have to fork out additional funds to ensure food and other basic needs of cane cutters hired to harvest cane are maintained”.
“Furthermore, will FSC bear the cost of cartage of sugarcane harvested and delivered to the mill on Tuesday by both rail and lorry, to Rarawai mill?”
“It must be borne by FSC because the non-start of the mill is nothing to do with growers’ operations. But many questions arise out of this debacle.
“We ask whether the Ministry of Sugar and the Sugar Industry Tribunal ensured certification of the state of preparedness of the mill before the Tribunal announced the date for the start of crushing?
“The carrying out of this exercise transparently is most important to determining the start of crushing at a sugar mill”.
“We also ask why did the FSC fail to carry out live tests to expose defects and deficiencies at least two weeks before the start of crushing as was normally done before?
“Why didn’t FSC use sugarcane harvested from its own Estates to carry out the live tests?”
“This is the scandalous state of affairs plaguing the industry since the usurpation of democratic institutions and annihilation of growers’ rights as the largest and most important stakeholders in the industry in institutions to ensure checks and balances”.
“It is the result of obliteration of transparency and democracy in the sugar industry by the current Fiji First government and its total rejection of bipartisanship through a parliamentary select committee on sugar that would have prevented such failures by ensuring full compliance to all measures”.
Professor Biman Prasad