Clark: No politics

FIJI Sugar Corporation CEO Graham Clark says he will not be drawn into any politically motivated discussion on the Penang mill closure issue.

He made the comment during a press conference at the Rakiraki factory last week where the media asked him if he was aware of comments being made by political parties and canegrowers organisations about the mill closure.

“I’m a commercial person and I am purely focused on the financial viability of this industry and my message is a commercial one — and that is that this industry has a viable future but its viability lies in its strength and unity,” he said.

“Therefore, everybody should be preaching the same message and that is — do the right thing for the farmers to produce more cane and for us to produce more sugar so we all have a better result.

“I’m getting a bit worried about misinformation passing around the community and I am happy to straighten people’s perceptions to try and help them.

“So my message is purely commercial — there is a very good viable financial future if we all stick together and stick to the plot.”

Mr Clark said before making politically-charged comments about the decision to close Penang, people needed to be aware of the facts.

He said the mill was 137 years old and the total cost of reinstating factory operations at the site had been estimated at between $40 and $50 million.

Cane supply at the mill had declined from 210,000 tonnes in 2010 to an estimated 175,000 this season.

Area under production had declined from more than 6500 hectares in the late ’80s to just over 3500 ha last year.

The Penang mill has recorded cumulative losses in excess of $37m.

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