NEWS

Prasad Plays The Penang Mill Tune

ANALYSIS: All roads seem to lead to Rakiraki recently for National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad. He was back there again on Saturday for a party working committee meeting.
08 May 2017 10:45
Prasad Plays The Penang Mill Tune
National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad (right) with party member Pio Tikoduadua Photo: Shahani Mala

ANALYSIS: All roads seem to lead to Rakiraki recently for National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad.

He was back there again on Saturday for a party working committee meeting. No so long ago he was there for a meeting of the NFP-linked Fiji Cane Growers Association

At both his message was the same. Vote for us and we will rebuild and reopen Rakiraki’s Penang sugar mill.

His promise obviously aims to stir and tap into local emotions about the closure of the mill. But how rebuilding and reopening Penang will be properly financed and how this can be viable for miller Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) has not been detailed by the NFP.

But FSC has. And it says the cost and the return on investment rebuilding Penang is not viable for the sugar industry as it works to rebuild for the greater good.

Penang, the country’s smallest mill, sits just outside Rakiraki town. It has played a significant part in the local economy since being reopened near a century ago.

But it was severely damaged and made nonoperational by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in February last year.

In fact Penang mill’s long term viability was in doubt even before Winston.

FSC has now developed plans to transport cane by road for crushing at the bigger Rarawai mill along the Kings Road in Ba. The FSC has explained these to the farmers.

No matter for Mr Prasad.

He is telling Ra sugarcane farmers to vote for him and NFP and if they win next year’s election their priority is to build a new mill in Rakiraki.

At the NFP Working Committee meeting at Rakiraki Village, on Saturday, Mr Prasad again promoted this.

This is also no doubt part of a wider old politics battle for the cane belt vote.

This had gone on for years between the NFP (original party of the canefarmers) and Mahendra Chaudhry’s more recent Fiji Labour Party and its allied National Farmers Union.

Same time Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s FijiFirst – with its strong service delivery and equal citizenry emphasis – has made significant inroads into this former powerbase of traditionally Indo Fijian parties.

n About 50 people attended the NFP’s working committee meeting.

Amongst prominent members present: Prem Singh, new convert Pio Tikoduadua, trade unionist Attar Singh, former NFP president Raman Singh, Parmod Chand and Jagindar Singh.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  shahani.mala@fijisun.com.fj

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