Exorbitant increase to ‘bail out a bankrupt FSC’

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FILE

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad claims the exorbitant increase in the price of sugar with the concurrence of the FijiFirst Government is aimed at bailing out a bankrupt Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC).

He said the 90 cents increase per kilogram approved by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) was yet another example of a complete lack of compassion and empathy towards the people by a heartless government.

“This latest episode of heaping more misery on the people is similar to government’s refusal to remove the extra 20 cents per litre duty on fuel imposed from April 1, 2020, despite fuel prices hitting the roof and adversely impacting the cost of other services.

“The hike in the price of sugar will have a similar flow-on effect,” he said.

“It is totally ridiculous for the FCCC to camouflage this unjust and unfair action by saying it will boost the income of canegrowers.

“This is the kind of sugar-coating adopted by this government and its agencies to hide the mess they have created.

“FCCC doesn’t say that the FSC asked for the price hike to provide a financial lifeline to the technically insolvent corporation.

“FSC had also submitted that it was going to shut down a mill on Viti Levu, leaving only one operational mill to crush cane from six cane growing districts.”

In a statement, FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham said the beneficiaries of this price change were canefarmers who were currently selling high quality sugarcane at an artificially low price in the domestic market.

“To put it simply heavily subsidised sugar prices are bad for the industry, bad for growers, and bad for Fijian’s health,” he said.

“With volatility becoming the only constant in international sugar prices, our cane industry can no longer afford to sideline market solutions to address its challenges.”

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