SUGAR mills in the country will not begin crushing this year until they have been deemed fully operational and ready.
Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan reiterated this to The Fiji Times while commenting on the progress of mill maintenance works yesterday.
"Our aim is still to have the maintenance completed by May 31. This date may slip if we are unable to secure the delivery dates of some of the long lead items from overseas. We will have a better handle on this at the end of the month. In any case we will not start crushing until the mills are ready," he said.
Mr Khan said the mill maintenance program was not expected to exceed $22 million budgeted for the retrofit.
"We have budgeted a total of $22 million which includes both capital and maintenance expenditures through to the end of the maintenance period. These funds are being sourced from the $123 million allocation in the national budget but excludes what was used last calendar year," he explained.
According to Mr Khan the mill maintenance program which began on February 1 are by all measures progressing well and should be completed by the end of May.
The maintenance team is made up of mill staff, specialists from United Kingdom sugar buyers Tate and Lyle and some former FSC engineering personnel.
Barring any disruptions and the mill maintenance program being successful, Mr Khan said crushing was expected to resume in June.