SUNBIZ

Over $8 Million Loaned To Cane Farmers in 2019

Fund chief executive officer Raj Sharma said good governance and risk management had been the cornerstone of the Fund.
17 Jan 2020 16:40
Over $8 Million Loaned To Cane Farmers in 2019
Sugar Cane Growers Fund chief executive officer Raj Sharma.

The Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF/Fund) last year approved 2322 loans to cane farmers which totalled $8,279,660.97.

This was noted during a review of the Fund for its operations in 2019.

Fund chief executive officer Raj Sharma said good governance and risk management had been the cornerstone of the Fund.

This was driven by the versatile board, led by Chairman Ariff Ali with other Board members who have diverse knowledge and background,” Mr Sharma said.

Board members included Pradeep Lal, Sundresh Chetty, Uday Sen, Tevita Madigibuli and Professor Anand Chand for the year ending December 2019.

Mr Sharma said: “The Board has explicitly provided a strong oversight on stewardship of SCGF in charting the direction, strategic and financial objectives for SCGF.

This has improved in the implementation of policies, strategies and financial objectives.

“In the year, SCGF got total of seven policies approved and in the main being, Finance & Administration, Information Technology, Human Resource, Customer Complaint and most important was revision of the Lending Policy,” said Mr Sharm.

“The financial results also look good subject to final audits.

“The external and internal audit programmes and implementation have been top priority, reporting to the Board.

Overall Board reporting and action thereon has improved.”

Mr Sharma said he was thankful to the Chairman and the directors for the robust oversight and guidance and with their support lot of pending items have been cleared in the 12 months, when we look back.

Lending Portfolio

The Fund engaged in granting loans under its Act to the sugar cane farmers continues to reposition itself after the change of board and appointment of the management team.

The board with different background and composition of skills sets has set the tone at the top with stronger governance and oversight. It has become more vibrant and prudent industry player for the farmers and the people.

SCGF continues to improve its services and products, including process improvements and documentation.

In addition a Memorandum of Understanding signed by SCGF has strengthen and deepened its relationship with major stakeholders TLTB for the lease administration, renewals and payments and the Fiji Revenue & Customs Services for the taxation and share of information in perfection of security documents under the new Personal Property Act (2017).

All those security documents as of 30 November 2019, SCGF successful loaded.

This PPSA platform improves the credit access and collateralisation with no major cost to the growers.

For loan disbursements and payment, SCGF has signed agreement with Vodafone’s platform for M- PAiSA and rolled out the services in December 2019.

This is another modern and technological platform for our farmers to use like any other professional does, said Mr Sharma.

SCGF continues to upgrade its premises and outlook, and has upgraded its Ba office, giving comfort to the growers and the people.

Work planned in 2020

Similar work is planned in 2020 for other districts.

By February 2020, SCGF will launch a Government Grant Loan Facility for the first timers to purchase cane farms with part of the Government grant as either $10,000 or 15 per cent of the cost.

This is very new initiative by Government and SCGF with total equity of 30 percent and first farm for women (empowering women) and youth (aged up 35 years) can acquire loan at 6 per cent compared to normal base rate of 6.5 percent.

SCGF is also looking at reviewing its Subsistence Farm Loan product that would not only complement the sugar cane farm income and diversification, but intercropping to assist in better farm or soil management and yield.

“So the products and polices are embedded linking to sustainable development goal too,” Mr Sharma said.

Feedbackcharles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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