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NFP issues challenge

Losalini Bolatagici
Saturday, July 30, 2016

NATIONAL Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad challenged Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Voreqe Bainimarama to tell members of the public what lies and misinformation NFP was accused of telling farmers about the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry and Sugar Cane Growers Fund (Amendment) Bills.

He made this challenge in a press conference yesterday in reply to comments made by the PM during the roadshow this week.

Prof Prasad accused the FijiFirst Government of feeding the canegrowers and ordinary citizens with "sugar coated" misinformation and quick fix solutions.

"What lies have we told farmers? They are the ones who are not being truthful," said Prof Prasad.

He said Government should stop the blame game and concentrate on improving the industry, adding the PM's consultations and "blame game" were a campaign stunt.

"I am not worried about the next election. I think he (PM) is worried. He is blaming everyone but them," he said.

Prof Prasad said of serious concern was the fact that the roadshow usurped the role and work of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs that was tasked by the Speaker to scrutinise the new sugar laws.

"The Bills are still before the committee, which has two rounds of public consultations and is yet to deliberate and finalise its report. Apart from usurping the role of the committee, Government is also pre-empting the recommendations of the committee. This is the unmistakable fact.

"If FijiFirst wanted to make submissions on what it preferred, it should have made submissions on the Bills to the committee. Once again the parliamentary process has been undermined."

Dr Prasad said it was wrong to blame former prime minister Laisenia Qarase's government for bungling an $85 million loan from Exim Bank of India.

Mr Bainimarama claimed this resulted in more than 50 per cent of it being wasted and 50 per cent used on failed upgrade works.

Prof Prasad said Mr Qarase had negotiated the loan in 2005 during his State visit to India, but most of the money was used by FSC under the stewardship of Mr Bainimarama's military government.

This, he said, could be easily verified from the FSC's annual reports. Questions sent to Mr Bainimarama remained answered when this edition went to press last night.

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