NFP unhappy with sugarcane payment

The National Federation Party has questioned deductions from the final amount received by some sugarcane farmers.

Staff Writers

October 16, 2017 6:32 pm

The Fiji Sugar Corporation announced a final sugarcane payment of $9.59 per tonne over the weekend, bringing the total sugarcane payment for 2016 to $82.00.

According to the FSC, the payment would be made in two instalments, with a $6.54 paid before Diwali and a $3.05 in January before the commencement of the 2018 school year.

The final payment of $9.59 is composed of a $0.44 “wash-up” and a $9.15 “top-up” from Government, “in recognition of the ongoing difficulties faced by sugarcane farmers due to the massive damage caused by Category 5 Cyclone Winston.”

NFP leader Biman Prasad alleges they have cited “misleading” statements received by farmers.

“The deduction by FSC is listed as a reversal of 50% of FSC debt. In reality, this means that a grower has paid 50 percent of debt owed to FSC for fertiliser, rice, sugar etc.  Other deductions include rent to i-Taukei Land Trust Board, Sugar Cane Growers Fund and Fiji Development Bank,” said Prasad.

According to the FSC, sugarcane production (1,387,243 tonnes) dropped to an all-time low in 2016 “due to the widespread devastation caused by Cyclone Winston”.  As a result, sugar production also fell to 139,501 tonnes due to low and poor quality supply.

In the 2017-2018 National Budget, the Fijian Government allocated $60 million in various assistance to the sugar industry.

Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Voreqe Bainimarama said the top-up to the final sugarcane payment was part of a broader programme to grow the economy.

“Around 200,000 Fijians rely on the health of our sugar cane industry – it is a critical source of income and way of life in many regions across our nation…my Government will always support our sugar cane farmers and always fight for their best interests,” said Bainimarama.

PM Bainimarama said the assistance was provided to reduce production costs and give sugarcane farmers more significant profit margins.

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