Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is lying through the skin of his teeth, blatantly misleading cane growers and the people of Fiji about sugar cane industry on the face of indisputable facts which prove beyond doubt the sharp decline of the industry under his watch in the last 11 years.
Mr Bainimarama is sounding like a broken record. He should be ashamed because sugar industry statistics paint a very bleak picture and confirm the failure of the military regime and the Fiji First government to revive the industry.
The PM said the Opposition are not providing real solutions but making big promises like giving $100 per tonne and spreading lies. The opposite is the truth.
No other leader of our nation in our independent history has such an abysmal record as far as our sugar industry is concerned and the statistics confirm this.
In 2006 the four mills crushed 3.2 million tonnes of cane and produced 310,000 tonnes of sugar.
Since then, both sugarcane and sugar production has declined steadily after the military coup of 5th December 2006. In 2017 the industry produced 1.63 million tonnes of cane and 180,000 tonnes of sugar. Active cane growers declined from a little over 18,000 to almost 12,000 over this period.
These are official industry statistics. How can someone, let alone a Prime Minister mislead people on the face of this?
The problem with the Prime Minister is he just reads speeches penned for him by taxpayers’ funded Qorvis Communications. He should realise that Qorvis is misleading him.
It is clear that Mr Bainimarama was attacking the NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad as he has announced that the NFP will implement a minimum guaranteed price of $100 per tonne as cane payment and also announced that we would build a new sugar mill in Rakiraki.
A motion moved by Professor Prasad during debate on the 2016-17 Budget in July 2016 for Government to allocate $50 million annually was defeated by Fiji First Government.
Another attempt by the NFP leader last year to get parliamentary approval for the plan’s implementation by way of a petition was rejected by Parliament.
Further, a petition by cane growers of Rakiraki for Government to build a new mill at Penang was kicked out in March last year after strong opposition by the Prime Minister.
Mr Bainimarama is using taxpayers’ funds to campaign and malign the Opposition. Taxpayers’ funds are being abused to spread lies in the hope that his circus tricks influence growers and their families to vote for him.
We challenge him to a debate together with his Qorvis spin doctors that will prove once and for all how the industry has been run down by people who cannot differentiate the root of a sugarcane from its top and are leading growers up the garden path.
Authorised by: –
Kamal Iyer NFP Headquarters