SUNBIZ

Look Beyond Criticisms, Gucake Tells Sugar Industry Stakeholders

Sugar industry stakeholders were advised to look beyond the criticisms against them and try to see whether it has any merit or substance. Director of Sugar Viliame Gucake said this
05 Mar 2017 11:17
Look Beyond Criticisms, Gucake  Tells Sugar Industry Stakeholders
Director of Sugar Viliame Gucake, who will soon retire from his position, chats with FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark during the farewell function on Friday. Photo: CHARLES CHAMBERS

Sugar industry stakeholders were advised to look beyond the criticisms against them and try to see whether it has any merit or substance.

Director of Sugar Viliame Gucake said this in his farewell speech at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel on Friday.

Prominent guests included the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s new CEO Graham Clark and COO Navin Chandra, Registrar of the Sugar Industry Tribunal Timothy Brown, Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty, former Acting CEO Mikaele Biukoto, sugar mill general managers and senior staff members of FSC, Sugar Industry Tribunal and the Ministry of Sugar.

“One of the hardest lessons that I came to learn so quickly since joining the industry is to front up to criticisms,” Mr Gucake said.

“In the process I have learnt also to grow a thick skin.

“Criticisms will come, that is the nature of the beast, according to Gerald Barrack (former Chairman of the now defunct Sugar Commission of Fiji).

“But we have to look beyond the criticism and try and identify the motive and see if it has any merits or substance for you to do something about it. Then proceed to solve it or refer it to someone who can provide suggestions for solutions.”

Mr Gucake, who officially retires on March 16, joined the Ministry of Sugar seven years ago and after spent two years in the Office of the Prime Minister heading the Sugar Unit.

He began his career with the Fiji Development Bank where he spent 23 years before joining Government, where he spent 10 years with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mr Gucake said when he was appointed to head the sugar unit, a colleague from the Ministry of Agriculture remarked “why are you joining a sinking ship”.

“I told them there were two ways to look at it. You can either take that negative attitude or sink with it or you can look at the brighter side and see what positive contribution you can make to bail out the water and prevent the ship from sinking. I chose the latter.”

Mr Gucake said Government and the sugar industry had made great strides in the past nine years.

He said this included reforms in Rental Subsidy and Industry review in 2008, South Pacific Fertiliser, increase in Government guarantee for FSC and the Sugar Industry Strategic Plan for the 2013-2017 period.

He said this was contrary to the views of industry commentators who seemed preoccupied with negative comments on the industry.

“But there is still much to do in order to address the perennial and emerging challenges that constantly confront the industry year in year out,” Mr Gucake said.

“Despite the negative comments that some politicians and critics make, it is still the sweet industry.”

Mr Gucake reiterated Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s comments that the “industry was here to stay” and this was backed up by Government through financial resources over those years.

“The reforms that Government started since 2008 showed that it has the political will to bring about positive results in the industry.

“The provision of fertiliser subsidy to SPF in 2011 and 2012 are critical decisions that most critics either deliberately sweep under the carpet or do not wish to give credit to the Government for,” Mr Gucake said.

EDITED BY: IVAMERE NATARO

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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