The National Federation Party has accused the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama of 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.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said Mr Bainimarama should be ashamed because sugar industry statistics paint a very bleak picture and confirms the failure of the military regime and the Fiji First government to revive the industry.
“In 2006 the four mills crushed 3.2 million tonnes of cane and produced 310,000 tonnes of sugar”.
“Since then, both sugarcane 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”.
During the consultation held at Lautoka on Thursday Mr Bainimarama said the industry was in steady decline until his Government intervened to put it on better footing.
The PM said the Opposition are not providing real solutions but making big promises like giving $100 per tonne and added “securing a future for the industry isn’t about smiles and sitting around the grog bowl spinning fantasies”.
Professor Prasad said it was clear that Mr Bainimarama was attacking the NFP as “we have announced that we 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”.
“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 influences 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”.