Opinion

ANALYSIS: Biman Leaves Chops, Goes Butter

Price of butter has sky rock­eted world over. There was a global increase in the price of butter by 60 per cent last year. World famous bakeries were still reeling
24 Feb 2018 14:55
ANALYSIS: Biman Leaves Chops, Goes Butter
National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad.

Price of butter has sky rock­eted world over.

There was a global increase in the price of butter by 60 per cent last year.

World famous bakeries were still reeling from it late last year.

Fiji is no exception and local peo­ple have also felt the pinch in the price of butter.

But, to blame the FijiFirst Govern­ment for this is not only childish but incorrect. This is exactly what National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad said in La­basa earlier this week that Govern­ment policies have led to increasing price of butter in Fiji.

Mr Prasad questioned people what the price of butter was in Labasa.

He went on to say that butter should not be a commodity that only the rich can afford.

That is true.

But he went on to say that it was the Government policies which were to be blamed for the hike in the price of butter and that only one company was given the conces­sion to import, which was why the majority in Fijians cannot afford to buy butter.

It is not as simple as that.

What Mr Prasad has not told the people is why there is a duty on im­port of milk and milk products.

That policy has been put in place purely to protect the local dairy farmers.

If the market is opened up to al­low other companies to import milk and milk products without any duty, who would buy milk from those thousands of dairy farmers?

It would not make any business sense to buy milk at a higher rate locally instead of importing it at a cheaper price from overseas.

And if the Government was so closed-minded about their policies, they would cut duty and allow other companies to import milk and milk products from overseas.

But, what would happen to our own dairy industry?

Mr Prasad would not be making the same comments in Korovou or Tailevu or Rakiraki where our dairy farmers are toiling very hard to make this industry stand on its feet.

But his comments call for a fact check.

Price of goods in outer islands is higher compared to Viti Levu given the freight cost that is added on.

Policy on imposing the duty on im­port of milk is there to protect our dairy industry.

Fiji is not the only country in the world which experienced an in­crease in butter price.

World market:

Butter prices world over have dou­bled since July 2016.

In the European Union (EU), but­ter production for the first 6 months of 2017 was about 5.5 per cent lower than during the same period in 2016.

In Australia, butter production has dropped by 18 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

But the demand had increased, which also led to a price hike.

But as seen from world trends, there is hope that price of butter will decrease.

It won’t be today or tomorrow but it will happen.

Will Governance play a part in it?

No. But by opening the market to allow anyone to import milk duty-free from overseas will most cer­tainly kill off our dairy industry.

Take for example the price of yaqona which shot through the roof post-Winston.

Two years later, the prices are yet to come down. Is it the Govern­ment’s fault? No.

Or the price of something as basic as long beans or chillies.

The people who managed to plant soon after Winston no doubt got a higher price for it.

Is that the Government’s fault? No.

Now take for example how world prices and demand and supply de­cide what our fuel price will be.

The role strength of the American dollar (USD) plays is also a reason for our fuel price.

When it is winter in Europe, the demand for gas for heating Euro­pean homes is higher.

Governments do not play a part in this. Demand and supply do.

And, NFP is not talking about that.

They are not making a full disclo­sure and not dealing with issues truthfully. Instead, they are being less than truthful and for what?

To earn a few votes?

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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