Sugar support stays

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (2nd from left) with Fiji Sugar Corporation Chief Executive Officer Graham Clark (left) officiates at the launch of the 2019 Crushing Season at Lautoka mill in this file picture. Picture: FT FILE/REINAL CHAND

FIJI Sugar Corporation Lautoka Mill workers and the thousands of families who rely on the sugar industry for their livelihood were assured Government would not make any compromise in its support for the sector.

Officiating at the start of crush at the Lautoka factory yesterday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said this was evident in the fact that despite the national budget entering a period of fiscal consolidation, he has “not cut a single dollar” from the support given to the sector.

“This year, we’ve allocated another $70.4 million to support this industry, an increase of $8m from last year,” he said.

“Those funds will continue to fund the guaranteed cane price of $85 per tonne, giving farmers confidence and certainty in the future. “That figure is despite a forecasted market price of around $50 –– so we’re guaranteeing more than 30 dollars extra over that price –– all for your benefit.

“Our funding to sugar this year will continue to fund the cane payment grant, which assisted another 4500 farmers in 2018.”

Mr Bainimarama added that the fertiliser subsidy had increased by 50 per cent from 2016 and this year it would be increased to $25.59 per tonne.

The PM said the weedicide subsidy would also continue, $3m was for cane access road upgrades and duty for cane knives was reduced to zero.

He said the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission had been requested to regulate lorry cartage rates and Government was awaiting a report from the Indian government on the upgrade of the rail network system.

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