Association airs concerns over reform of Bill

ISSUES are common for an industry as complex as the sugar sector, says the Fiji Cane Lorry Association.

However, president Jitendra Singh said the manner in which the reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill addressed issues or disputes criminalised farmers, lorry operators and labourers.

“Farmers and the lorry association are being threatened with charges if they are viewed as interferences to the harvesting and transportation of cane,” he said.

“Issues can and will come up but both parties can come to an agreement and resolve this through dialogue.

“The Bill also removes all freedoms from farmers. They cannot question the Fiji Sugar Corporation on cane planting or delivery issues.

“I say this because under the Bill, FSC will have the register of growers.”

Mr Singh said criminalising growers and imposing hefty fines for arbitrary acts was not the way to encourage farmers to remain in the industry.

“Once farmers understand the Bill and how it will work, they will move away from cane farming because nobody will want to plant cane under such conditions.”

Mr Singh is the head of an organisation that represents 1400 cane lorry operators in the country.

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