NFP leader hits out at FSC

National Federation Party leader Dr Biman Prasad during a press conference. Picture: FT FILE/RAMA

THE National Federation Party has called on the Fiji Sugar Corporation to stop lying to canefarmers.

In a statement issued last Friday, party leader Professor Biman Prasad said cane-growers and lorry operators were suffering as a result of breakdowns at the Lautoka mill and slow crush rate at the Rarawai factory in Ba.

He claimed the FSC was not being honest when it labelled the mill breakdown “a scheduled stop”.

The NFP has also accused the FSC of not paying the mill breakdown compensation fee of $3 per tonne to farmers.

Under a program which began in July this year, the FSC said it would pay $5 per tonne compensation for mill stoppages caused by mechanical issues of six hours or more. Under the scheme, farmers would receive $3 per tonne while lorry operators would receive $2 per tonne.

“We have been told by growers and lorry operators that they were not compensated,” Prof Prasad claimed.

“FSC had announced that it would pay $5 per tonne of harvested cane if any of its mills broke down.

“But we have been told that previously growers received only $3 while lorry operators got $2. But even this has not happened this time.

“We are told by growers that FSC restarts its mills just before the six-hour timeline that kicks in the compensation plan and then shuts it down to escape the payment to growers,” he claimed.

This newspaper has already reported concerns on the non-payment when farmers in Ba raised the issue last week.

Yaladro Farmers Cooperative president Rajendra Raglu claimed many growers in his sector had not received the $3 per tonne compensation while lorry drivers for the same mill breakdown period had been compensated $2 per tonne.

In response to questions sent by this newspaper about the NFP statement, the FSC said it would not respond to third party comments.

“During the course of this season, we have regularly released mill production facts and figures on a weekly basis, updating the industry and the general public at large,” said FSC in a statement.

“And in the event of mill stoppages, we have always been proactive in remedying the problem. Whilst all the while providing progressive updates. FSC continues to thank all stakeholders for their co-operation and looks forward to a strong finish for the season.”

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