NFP Leader tells FSC: Don't make excuses
Tuesday 12th January 2021
“Data transfer and processing of relief for cane growers in Vanua Levu should not be used as an excuse to breach the Master Award by delaying the pay-out of 2nd cane payment to growers in other two mill areas”, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad was reacting to a statement by Fiji Sugar Corporation Chief Executive Officer Graham Clark who said the 2nd cane payment of $12.83 per tonne to be paid end of this week was in accordance with the Master Award as it comprises 20% of the forecast price.
Clark said the payment was delayed due to data transfer and processing of relief for cane growers in Vanua Levu.
However, the NFP Leader said Clark was misleading the people by not quoting the Master Award in its entirety.
“Section 19.2 (ii) of the Master Award clearly states that the 2nd payment shall be made in respect of each mill, within five weeks of the end of crushing at that mill”.
“The Lautoka mill ceased crushing on Friday November 27, 2020, while the Rarawai mill ended crushing on Sunday November 29, 2020”.
“The five week deadline as stipulated in the Master Award ended on Friday 1 January, 2021 and Sunday 3rdJanuary 2021 for Lautoka and Rarawai mill areas respectively”.
“The 2nd payment for growers in Viti Levu from Rakiraki to Sigatoka suppling cane to these two mills have been delayed by two weeks. This is a clear breach of Master Award”.
“Therefore delays caused by data processing and processing of relief for growers in Vanua Levu is no basis whatsoever to delay payment to cane growers in other mill areas because the end of crushing season at all mills is not the basis for disbursement of 2nd payment”.
“Further, the statement by Clark that only 50% of other authorised deductions for Vanua Levu growers from this payment will be made is not good enough”.
“There shouldn’t be any deduction from the 2nd cane payment for all cane growers as they need the money to facilitate school preparations for children and meet other expenses”.
“This is the least FSC and industry stakeholders can do. This should be the role of the Sugar Cane Growers Council to negotiate a meaningful solution with FSC for growers, which has strangely kept quiet about the breach of the Master Award by the Corporation”.
Professor Biman Prasad