No ‘transparency’ in allotment of subsidy

Locomotive lines up the carts loaded with sugar cane at the Lautoka mill. Picture:FILE/REINAL CHAND

The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) has not implemented a systematic and transparent method to allot grants under the Sugarcane Development and Farmer Assistance Grant initiative, states the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) in his Performance Audit on the Monitoring of Implementation of the Sugarcane Development and Farmers Assistance Program tabled in Parliament last Thursday.

The OAG found allotment of grants was made on a first-come first-serve basis.

“FSC officials informed audit that a ‘first-come first-serve’ approach is applied because grant funds are not adequate to provide to all farmers who apply,” stated the OAG.

“There is also a lack of appraisal procedures to target the available resources to targeted areas, as well as a lack of appraisal plans.

“No supporting documents was made available to us that indicates that financial appraisal has been performed to determine applicant’s ability to still continue with sugarcane farming without the grant.”

The Ministry of Sugar informed the OAG that no differentiation was made between farmers in terms of providing the assistance and since there was a large number of farmers, the only option was the first-come first-served basis.

The OAG recommended the FSC, in consultation with the Ministry of Sugar, consider developing and implementing an effective appraisal system which would be able to support the target group and meet the objectives of the grant scheme.

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