Query on promise

Fiji Cane Growers Association general secretary Bala Dass (left) with Sugar Industry Tribunal commissioner Tim Brown. Picture: FT FILE

THE Fiji Cane Growers Association (FCGA) is asking the Government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) for the 300 trucks and 20 mechanical harvesters that were promised last year.
Association general secretary Bala Dass said growers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the trucks and harvesters.
“During the 2017-2018 Budget Appropriation Bill, the Attorney-General announced in Parliament on June 29 that the Fiji Sugar Corporation would buy and operate 300 trucks and 20 mechanical harvesters, starting in the 2017 season,” he claimed.
“The same thing was announced by FSC during consultations with farmers in the Western Division.
“We are about to kick off the 2018 harvest season and there is no sign of these trucks or harvesters.
“From the day the announcement was made until today, no details were given on where the trucks would be purchased from, who would bring them in, how they were going to recruit drivers, who would be responsible for the maintenance costs and how would these trucks be utilised in the sugar off-season.
“These are important questions because canegrowers are the biggest stakeholder in the industry at 70 per cent.”
The corrected Hansard from Parliament June 29 records Mr Sayed-Khaiyum as saying that beginning in the 2017 season, the FSC would bring in 300 new trucks — 200 tipper and 100 flatbed vehicles — to improve efficiency and reduce transport costs for farmers.
He also said 20 mechanical harvesters would be brought in by FSC to provide better pricing and improve efficiency and FSC would be exempt from paying the 5 per cent importation tariff.
Questions sent to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum last week Friday on the issues raised by Mr Dass remained unanswered when this edition went to press yesterday.
The FSC said it would respond to queries on the issue today.