Singh: Downturn evident

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, and Leader of Government in Parliament Inia Seruiratu with Opposition MP Prem Singh during break between session at Parliament yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE downturn in the sugar industry over the past 12 years is evident in the reduction of area under cane from 58,000 hectares in 2006 to 39,000ha in 2015, says National Federation Party Whip Prem Singh.

He made the comment while speaking on the 2018/2019 National Budget in Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Singh said the Fiji Bureau of Statistics data showed a massive decline of 19,000 hectares.

He said this confirmed that the industry has taken a nosedive under both the military regime and the FijiFirst Government.

Mr Singh added that Government’s National Development Plan (NDP) also confirmed that FijiFirst would not build a new sugar mill in Rakiraki since its decision to close down the Penang mill two years ago.

He said cartage to Rarawai was projected to continue for the next five years. The NFP Whip said NDP stated that Government provided cartage subsidy to Ra growers for 175,000 tonnes of cane when the total production in Rakiraki last year was only 118,000 tonnes.

Mr Singh said it was “absolutely shameful” that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama launched the NDP during COP23 in Bonn last November when it was “full of false and unrealistic projections”.

Mr Singh said as Minister for Sugar, Mr Bainimarama should be concerned about the fraudulent statistics, because the buck ultimately stopped with him.