NEWS

Govt Moving Sugar New Way

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on local sugar industry critics to come up with their own viable solutions to improve the industry. Mr Bainimarama, who is also Minister Responsible
30 May 2016 10:43
Govt Moving Sugar New Way
Sugarcane labourers from Cakaudrove Province harvesting sugarcane for a sugarcane farmer in Wailevu, Labasa.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on local sugar industry critics to come up with their own viable solutions to improve the industry.

Mr Bainimarama, who is also Minister Responsible for Sugar made the call in a statement delivered on his behalf by Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan at the 49th Session of the International Sugar Organisation Council.

He said because the industry played such a key role in the Fijian economy, his Government was keen to get the views of as many people as possible through a public consultation process.

“Yet instead of coming forward with constructive ideas to improve the Bills and help make the industry more efficient, a few politically motivated individuals and organisations turned the hearings into a circus, he said.

“We had a conga line of failed politicians and other naysayers attacking our reforms without putting forward a cogent alternative blueprint, a single fresh idea,” he said.

“Other than throwing good money after bad; short term fixes rather than long term sustainability,” he said.

He said it was the mentality that brought the industry to its knees in the first place.

“No business sense; no idea how a modern economy works; no concept of innovation or embracing new technology; just the same old crude politicisation of the industry,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said the same old grandstanding and the same attempt to instill fear in ordinary Fijians about their futures when as Franklin Roosevelt famously said; “all we have to fear is fear itself”.

He said his Government intended to maintain a healthy sugar cane industry in Fiji and was giving it a healthy future by doing things differently.

“By thinking outside the box; by embracing new ways of doing things,” he said.

Earlier this month he said the Fiji Sugar Corporation, which owned the four sugar mills, launched its Strategic Business Plan for 2016 – 2020.

“This gives the industry the platform it needs to prosper after October 2017. The overall strategy is to reduce the cost of production while maximising revenue,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“And I urge the entire industry to embrace it with the confidence and optimism I believe it deserves.”

He said Government was also eagerly awaiting the findings of the study funded by the EU “on Current and Forecast Market Developments for ACP Sugar Suppliers to the European Market” carried out by LMC International in April.

Fiji was one of five sugar producing countries in the ACP group that participated in this study, he said.

“And we expect that it will give us some strategic options in terms of finding alternative markets when the EU quotas end next year,” he said.

Two new diversification projects – the proposed Syrup Mill for Penang and the proposed Cogeneration Project in Rarawai – were temporarily on hold pending independent feasibility studies, he said.

He said while Fiji was behind schedule in the initial start-up dates for these projects, they intended to do them properly in the interests of credibility, transparency and the long term benefit of growers.

Despite the setback of Cyclone Winston, he said the overall outlook for the Fijian industry was positive. “We are not only producing more cane but more importantly, producing more sugar from less cane and approaching international benchmarks.”

 

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper