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Sugar fund abuse will not be tolerated: Vaniqi

December 31
09:34 2013

By JYOTI PRATIBHA

The Fiji Sugar Corporation will not tolerate any abuse of the $8.4million that Government has set aside as grants for sugar farmers.
While briefing Permanent Secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi on how the corporation intends the money to be spent, corporation manager Special Projects Mikaele Duikoto said the funds would be spent on land preparations.
From this amount, each farmer would get $1500 to prepare their land for farming.
However, Mr Duikoto poalleged that previously, there have been abuse of grants.
While land preparations had been undertaken and money paid, the corporation later found out that on that land other crops had been farmed and not sugarcane.
This time, farmers will only be paid out the money after the corporation sees that cane has been planted and germination has started.
Mr Duikoto said the corporation had learnt hard lessons from previous abuses and were going to ensure that this money was used for the purpose it is given out for.

Tractor bids
The corporation has already called expression of interests from those who own tractors and can assist in land preparation.
However, Mr Duikoto clarified that this was called just to gauge the response and to see how many people had the required equipment.
He said the corporation would not be dealing with tractor operators or be involved in this process.

Farmer assurance
He said farmers themselves will have to do all the groundwork and assure the corporation that their land has been prepared for sugarcane farming.
Sugarcane Growers Council chief executive Sundresh Chetty said some farmers were concerned that they were not consulted.
Lt-Col Vaniqi asked the Council to prepare their list of farmers who would be best suitable for this assistance.
Mr Chetty and Mr Duikoto will work to see that those farmers who will provide the quickest returns are assisted.

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