NFP volleys back at PM

BLEAK sugar industry statistics over the past 11 years were testament to the government’s failure to the sector.

Responding to a statement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on Thursday, the National Federation Party said in a statement the sharp decline of the industry took place under the FijiFirst leader’s watch.

The PM said the Opposition was not providing real solutions but making big promises such as giving $100 per tonne and spreading lies.

The NFP claimed a sharp reduction in production in 2006 at all four mills was the beginning of a steady decline in both sugarcane and sugar production.

The statement said active canegrowers declined from a little more than 18,000 to about 12,000 over this same period.

“It is clear that Mr Bainimarama was attacking the NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad as he had announced that the NFP will implement a minimum guaranteed price of $100 per tonne as cane payment and also announced that we would build a new sugar mill in Rakiraki,” the party claimed.

“A motion moved by Prof Prasad during debate on the 2016-17 National Budget in July 2016 for Government to allocate $50 million annually was defeated by FijiFirst Government.

“Another attempt by the NFP leader last year to get parliamentary approval for the plan’s implementation by way of a petition was rejected by Parliament.

“Further, a petition by canegrowers of Rakiraki for Government to build a new mill at Penang was kicked out in March last year after strong opposition by the PM.

The NFP said they would welcome a debate on the state of the industry.