Third cane payment should be over $13

March 9, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

The third cane payment is projected to be at least $13.28 per tonne and not $9.88. Cane growers should receive this amount in full without any deductions by March 31st. And there should be no deductions from this payment.

Cane growers today (Wednesday 9th March) received $5 per tonne and not $9.88 as incorrectly announced by the FSC Executive Chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation. Apart from $5 paid today the estimated outstanding amount of $8.28 should be paid without any deductions.

Mr Abdul Khan is therefore usurping the role and authority 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. We question whether 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. We believe it has not been certified.

What cane growers received today (Wednesday 9th March) is a sum of $5 per tonne of cane and not $9.88 as claimed by Mr Khan via the media.

This is not being told by Mr Khan and other industry stakeholders.

He has arbitrarily decided that the third cane payment will be $9.88. This is incorrect.

We have established the estimated third cane payment will be $13.28. But its verification and certification by stakeholders including the growers is questionable. Mr Khan knows this but is not telling the truth. He should be honest and say the $5 per tonne that was paid today is from the estimated or projected third cane payment of $13.28.

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 this payment.

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.

Biman Prasad

Leader