Fiji Time: 10:10 AM on Sunday 18 March

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Biman refutes claims on sector

Felix Chaudhary
Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE National Federation Party says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should stop misleading sugarcane growers and the people of Fiji about the state of the sugar industry.

Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said comments made by the PM during sugar industry consultations at the Sugar Cane Growers Council hall on Thursday that his Government had resurrected the sugar industry were simply not true.

Prof Biman claimed it was an indisputable fact that the sharp decline of the industry had occurred under Mr Bainimarama's watch over the past 11 years.

"In 2006, the four mills crushed 3.2 million tonnes of cane and produced 310,000 tonnes of sugar," the NFP leader said.

"Since then, both sugarcane and sugar production has declined steadily after the military coup of December 5, 2006.

"In 2017, the industry produced 1.63 million tonnes of cane and 180,000 tonnes of sugar.

"Active canegrowers declined from a little over 18,000 to almost 12,000 over this period.

"These are official industry statistics. How can someone ... mislead people on the face of this?"

During the consultation in Lautoka on Thursday, Mr Bainimarama said the industry had been in steady decline until his Government intervened to put it on better footing.

The PM had also said the Opposition was not providing real solutions but making big promises like giving $100 per tonne cane payment and added "securing a future for the industry isn't about smiles and sitting around the grog bowl spinning fantasies".

Prof Prasad said it was clear that Mr Bainimarama was attacking the NFP because of previous announcements that the party would implement a $100 per tonne minimum guaranteed cane payment and build a new sugar mill in Rakiraki if voted into power.

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