Sale of FSC's Prime Properties means Bankruptcy
Monday 15th February 2021
Government should direct the Fiji Sugar Corporation not to sell any of its assets and institute an independent and forensic inquiry into operational and financial aspects of FSC, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad
Professor Prasad said it is now abundantly clear that the FSC is on the verge of bankruptcy because of its ill-conceived decision to sell off prime properties that will result in displacement of hundreds of people.
“It also confirms that over the years when FSC did show profits, it was profit on paper only created by government grant of taxpayers’ funds”.
“A recent advertisement by FSC on 6th February called for expression of interest on many prime residential, industrial and commercial and residential properties including land and buildings used for offices and homes that are mostly occupied by workers”.
“FSC and government must immediately stop this irrational move.
“As the largest and almost sole owner of FSC, government has a moral and social responsibility to uphold the welfare and livelihood of its citizens”.
“This is like selling one’s soul for 30 pieces of silver. This is lunacy”.
“For example, mill compounds of Lautoka, Rarawai and Labasa mills have been offered for sale. So is agricultural land. In Yaladro, Tavua, the sector office and land is being put in the market”.
“It is also clear that both government and FSC have no intention whatsoever to build a new mill in Penang, Rakiraki. All remaining properties including the site where the old mill once proudly stood is being offered for sale”.
“Basically, with past sales and the latest one, the signs are clear that FSC will only own the actual mills and nothing else”.
“It means FSC is on the verge of bankruptcy and is desperate to sell off its remaining assets despite the fact that its liabilities $144.4 million more than its assets as noted by the Auditors in the Corporation’s 2020 Annual Report”.
“Worse, FSC and government are not considering the impact of this ill-conceived move on the lives of residents. In Ba alone, around 400 people will be displaced if land in Rarawai and the mill compound is sold off”.
“The same will happen in Labasa and Lautoka. What is FSC and government up to?”
“This is most unhealthy and counterproductive to any effort being made to improve the sugar industry by raising sugarcane production and improving milling efficiency because it creates a perception that FSC only cares about its survival and not the welfare of workers and cane growers”.