Why the delay in finalising the 4th cane payment?
May 30, 2022
The delay in finalising and announcing the 4th cane payment by the Sugar Industry Tribunal and industry stakeholders contravenes the Master Award and casts doubt on cane growers’ genuine need to receive at least $18 per tonne without any deductions made from the payment to help them prepare for the new harvesting season.
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad said $18 per tonne is needed but till now the Sugar Cane Growers Council hasn’t announced whether it has negotiated with the Fiji Sugar Corporation, other stakeholders including financial institutions to agree to no deductions to ensure growers receive the full amount.
Professor Prasad said the Master Award stipulates that the 4th payment must be announced and paid out on or before May 31st and by now growers should have received their statements showing how much proceeds they will get to help them prepare for the new harvesting season and cushion the effects of cost of living.
The NFP Leader said this delay increases the uncertainty surrounding the future survival of an industry and this is failing to inspire growers to have confidence and grow their crop size.
“So far a sum of $62.33 per tonne has been paid to growers. Growers are owed $22.67 from the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne. They need a minimum of $18 per tonne to help them in preparing for harvesting”.
“Because of the low crop size of 1.4 million tonnes last year, more than 70% of growers who produce an average of or less than 100 tonnes of cane will receive pittance or nothing at all if deductions are made”.
“But the decision to delay the announcement of the payment until the end only means that the FSC is looking for money to make the payment. One wonders what has happened to growers’ share of 70% proceeds from the sale of sugar until 30th April”.
“Growers want their just dues. And the sugar industry, which is being totally controlled by the Fiji First government, must respect the Master Award and not pay lip service to growers”.