Canegrowers voice their concern at public hearings on the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill.

Sugar Talks Queried
By Felix Chaudhary. 
The Fiji Times. Saturday May 14, 2016

THE Fiji Cane Growers Association says the Government’s attempt of holding consultations on the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill was a disrespect to farmers in the country.

The association also said the manner in which the submission process was being conducted called into question the Government’s ethos of common and equal citizenry for all.

“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs scrutinising Bill No.19 will devote only around 20 hours of its time in receiving submissions from growers and the public in eight canegrowing districts over a period of six days,” said association president Attar Singh.

“And that too when growers are lacking knowledge on the more than draconian features of the Bill which hasn’t been publicised and not even translated into the iTaukei and Hindi languages.

“Is this Government’s version of common and equal citizenry that is supposed to provide equal opportunities to all?”

Mr Singh said having studied the Bill and taking into consideration the views of stakeholders who had made submissions, it was clear that sugarcane growers would be further enslaved.

“They will be at the mercy of Government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation and everything they do as part of sugarcane farming.

“This Bill affects the livelihood of 200,000 people in our nation who are directly or indirectly dependent on the sugar industry.

“Worse, it will subjugate around 16,000 growers, 12,872 of whom are active, under the FSC and Government.”

“This is reminiscent of their darkest days during the 93-year- old stranglehold of the industry and the nation by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and its subsidiary, South Pacific Sugar Mills.”

Farmer voices concern on reforms

By Felix Chaudhary
. The Fiji Times. Saturday, May 14, 2016

THE Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill is designed to give the present Government absolute control of the sugarcane industry.

This was the comment made by Davendra Naidu, a farmer from Varavu Sector, Ba, while making submissions to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs on the Bill.

“Every now and then the Prime Minister has said that the sugar industry before was politicised but looking at the present Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill 2016, it is very clear that the FijiFirst government wants complete control,” he said.

“So the sugar industry is politicised by the present Government.” Mr Naidu said many details in the Bill went against the principles of democracy, especially in the rights of growers.

“The Sugar Cane Growers Council belongs to sugarcane growers, full stop.

“We want elected growers councillors from the 38 sectors to look after our interests, we don’t want the Sugar Minister to pick and choose members from the cane producer associations.”

Mr Naidu also said farmers had issues with the Bill in terms of the sections corresponding with the Sugar Cane Growers Fund.

“The fund does not belong to the Government, the growers will decide what to do with the fund.”

Standing Committee chairperson Lorna Eden said the views expressed by Mr Naidu had been noted.