THIRD CANE PAYMENT NOT CERTIFIED. FSC MISLEADING GROWERS

Media Release

March 17, 2016

The Executive Chairman of Fiji Sugar Corporation Abdul Khan has deliberately misled and deceived cane growers and the people of Fiji about the third cane payment cane payment for the 2015 season, which was supposedly paid out last week.

Last Wednesday’s payment was not $9.88 but $5. And the growers statement of account shows the $5 per tonne payment is specified as Special Cane Pay”. There is no mention of the proceeds being from the third cane payment. This is the second time in five months that Abdul Khan is deceiving growers.

In October last year he claimed growers received 71 cents per tonne as final cane payment being for 2014. This was totally misleading. Growers received the lowest final cane pay in history of 30 cents per tonne, which was topped up by 41 cents being growers share of proceeds from the liquidation of Fiji Sugar Marketing.

This vindicates the NFP’s view that the third cane payment was not duly certified by the Sugar Industry Tribunal and industry stakeholders including the Sugar Cane Growers Council at the time the payment of $5 per tonne was paid. Otherwise the growers statement of account or invoice should have stated the payment as proceeds from third cane payment.

The question then arises; Why did Abdul Khan pluck the figure of $9.88 from thin air and proclaim it as the third cane payment? Despite the silence of other stakeholders on the issue especially the Tribunal, we understand the process perfectly well contrary to Abdul Khan’s claim that the NFP does not understand the process of determining a cane payment.

In this regard the proceeds of all sugar sales prior to determining the third cane payment has to be audited and then certified. It seems Mr Khan has either deliberately ignored this procedure or has attempted to pre-determine the third cane payout.

The second question that Mr Khan must answer is; Is his figure of a third cane payment of $9.88 arrived at after deduction the balance of $3.40 advance to growers in two special payments of $4.80? The third question Mr Khan must answer; Why is he determining that reminder of $4.88 per tonne from his supposedly correct figure of $9.88 will be subjected to deductions when stakeholders in other sectors of the economy are being given reprieve and concessions in the aftermath of the destruction caused by TC Winston?

Mr Khan is therefore usurping the role of other stakeholders in the industry by claiming that the third cane payment of $9.88 has been brought forward as a result of destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Mr Khan is misleading and deceiving the people of Fiji and shortchanging the cane growers. No stakeholder including Mr Khan as FSC Executive Chairman has clarified that the third cane payment usually due before March 31st each year has been certified by the Sugar Industry Tribunal and the Sugar Cane Growers Council Accountant.

This is a simple question and it is a matter of concern that no other stakeholder apart from Abdul Khan as boss of FSC is publicly commenting and clarifying the issue. We wonder whether the Tribunal and its Industrial Commissioner as well as the SCGC CEO are being gagged by Government, which is in total control of the entire industry that is now deeply politicized like never before in our history.

All industry stakeholders should come out clean and reveal the facts that we have stated. Furthermore, FSC is planning deductions from the third cane payment including $3.40 outstanding balance from the two special payments totalling $4.80, from the estimated $13.28 per tonne, leaving growers with $9.88. This should not be done if Government is serious about alleviating the plight of growers.

Other cultivation expenses including loans also should not be deducted from The first form of real assistance will be the authorization of no deductions from the third cane payment. The full sum of a minimum projected third payment of $13. 28 per tonne should be paid to all cane growers so that they are able to start rebuilding their lives and livelihood.

Bala Dass

NFP General Secretary

FSC October 2015FSC March 2016