Sugar issues raised during party rally

FijiFirst Party Candidate Parveen Kumar (right) meet with residents of Lovu Seaside in Lautoka. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

THE state of the sugar industry and review of the Master Award were two of the issues raised during a FijiFirst rally in the cane farming area of Drasa in Lautoka on Wednesday night.

Jitendra Singh, the president of the Fiji Cane Lorry Transport Association, said mills often started late and this had cost a lot of money.

He also raised concerns about the canegrowers council. In response, FijiFirst general-secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said there had been many changes brought about in the sugar industry.

“As you know, there are a number of issues on the floor and we have now guaranteed a price of $85, remember one thing, you are no longer getting any subsidised rates or quota system into the European Union, it is now open market,” he said.

“Before the issue was different, so we obviously have progressed that, we now have a fixed price. So we now have a stabilisation fund so what that means is next year, if FSC is able to sell the sugar at world market price at $65, you’ll still get $85 because we’ve talked to FSC.

“The chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), Vishnu Mohan, is a banker and a commodities trader and he has dealt with commodities so FSC is actually selling some of its properties so the funding from that property will be kept in a fund in a stabilisation fund.

“If, for example, they get $65, they’ll still pay $85. If the following year, assuming they get $95 a tonne, you will still get $85 a tonne because the additional $10 will go back into the stabilisation fund. That’s how the system works.”

He said there were a number of issues pertaining to the canegrowers council et cetera and as you know, we’ve not had elections for that.

“Issues pertaining to that and related to the Master Award will also be dealt with. Obviously there’s talk about the quality of the cane too so there are issues pertaining to the penalty rates but also the quality of the payment system.”

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