No guaranteed price allocation for 2022 cane harvesting season - Massive betrayal of cane growers
July 18, 2022
The Fiji First Government, by drastically slashing the allocation for guaranteed price of $85 for a tonne of sugarcane in the 2022-23 budget, has massively betrayed cane growers who will not receive the guaranteed price for the 2022 harvesting season, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said this is a massive betrayal of growers and proves that the Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum misled both Parliament and the people of Fiji when he announced last Friday night of the continuation of the guaranteed price in the 2022-23 final year.
The NFP Leader said the Budget Estimates show that only a sum of $8 million has been allocated for Sugar Stabilisation Fund to be administered by the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
He said this sum is enough only to ensure growers receive the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne for the 2021 season when the final payment is topped up for last season, to be paid in October.
“In fact, the Budget for Ministry of Sugar has been reduced by over $38 million from $83.3 million in the Revised 2021-22 budget to only $45.3 million in the 2022-23 budget”.
“In the Revised budget, a sum of $46.984 million was allocated to cater for guaranteed price. With the allocation of $8 million, this means that guaranteed price support has been slashed by $38.98 million”.
“Despite knowing this fact, the Economy Minister misled Parliament by saying”:-
“We would like to also finally assure cane growers that sufficient funds have been allocated to the Ministry of Sugar to ensure the guarantee cane price of $85 will continue in this financial year”. – Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum
“By deliberately misleading the nation, the defacto Prime Minister has kicked the growers and their families in the guts”.
“Under the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility, the Prime Minister who is also the Minister for Sugar would have known this fact because budgets are presented with full concurrence of Cabinet”.
“Then we have many Ministers whose roots are entwined with the cane belts and voting results of the November 2018 elections show that they primarily received their support from these areas aside from the PM. Were they oblivious to this massive betrayal of growers?”
“By the time the 2023-24 budget is handed down in June/July next year, growers will have already received 4 cane payments. And these would be meagre amounts with no top-up”.
“If this is not rectified before the financial year kicks in on 1st August, it will result in the death of an already staggering industry”.
“The NFP will move a Motion during the Budget debate to increase the allocation by $38.98 million so that the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne is assured as this will give some stability to the livelihood of growers”.
“Of course growers deserve much more in terms of price support and measures aimed at increasing cane production but this will only happen after the elections”.
“We also serve this as notice to those Fiji First MPs who seek their votes from growers and their families because we will inform growers how they were betrayed if these MPs vote against this righteous and just Motion”.