NEWS

Govt Wants Damaging Politics Out Of Sugar

Government wanted to eradicate politics from the sugar industry, Parliament was told  yesterday. Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, made the remarks during a debate on a motion to increase the
26 May 2017 11:00
Govt Wants Damaging Politics Out Of Sugar
Another good day...Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Acting Prime Minister, outside Parliament on May 25, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Government wanted to eradicate politics from the sugar industry, Parliament was told  yesterday.

Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, made the remarks during a debate on a motion to increase the existing guarantee of $120 million to $322 million to the Fiji Sugar Corporation Limited with an extension till May 31, 2022.

It was passed in Parliament yesterday.

The deterioration of the sugarcane industry, he said, started in 1987 when land leases weren’t renewed leading to sugarcane farmers losing confidence. In 1997, the number of sugarcane growers in  Fiji had dramatically decreased to 20,000.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the politicisation of the sugar cane industry was one of the main problems.

In the past there had been band-aid solutions after 1987.

He said the band aid solutions didn’t give a long term strategic plan nor did they pave a way forward.

“The landowners were brain-washed because of political reasons not to renew their leases. They were often given handouts not to renew their leases,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the sugarcane industry was at a crossroad.

The increase, he added, would assist FSC as it embarked on a new direction.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also said it would assist FSC with the development of some of its capital projects like the upgrade of sugar mills in the Northern and Western Division including the refurbishment of railways for carting sugarcane to the mills.

He added the capital projects would take four years to be completed.

The Bainimarama Government, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said, was focused on uplifting the sugarcane industry since 2006 and it would continue to do so.

SODELPA Opposition MP, Salote Radrodro said the way in which the issues of the sugar cane industry were highlighted by Government showed the industry was very sick.

National Federation Party Opposition MP, Biman Prasad said that Government expected Opposition to support every motion it brought to Parliament.

In his right of reply, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji the contribution of the sugarcane farmers in the gross domestic product was 14 per cent in 1994 adding that it further declined in 1996, its contribution further dropped to five per cent in 2006.

What the NFP didn’t mention, he said was the  causes of the decline of the industry and the number of growers between 1994 to 1998.

“The National Farmers Union is an extension of the Fiji Labour Party, the Fiji Cane Growers Association is an extension of the National Federation Party.

“It’s a fact, there are various political parties with these organisations,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

On a planned march in Labasa today by cane farmers, he said, they had been misled.

Edited by Paula Tuvuki

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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