FSC’s losses had doubled and trebled under its expatriate managing director who enjoyed a salary package of $1/2 a million dollars, Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.
Chaudhry warned Parliament that John McFadden would have to go as a non-performing managing director in any move to rescue the financially strapped sugar milling company. Indeed, he called for the sacking of the board and top management of FSC.
“What do we see as his contribution to the industry? The loss in 2000 was $11 million when McFadden took over. It doubled to $22 million in 2001. For 2002, although the audited accounts are not out, the budgeted loss I am told is around $25 million.
“This man is paid, I am told, something like half a million dollars, his total package. Do we pay him half a million dollars to double, or maybe, and treble our losses? Any chief executive of a company would be sacked immediately on such a record, by the board.”
The Fiji Sugar Corporation is technically bankrupt. It has no cash flow and has been kept afloat on government grants and government-guaranteed bank loans. Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Laisenia Qarase, is on record as saying that no bank would lend to FSC without a government guarantee.
The corporation’s financial position is so bad that it had no money to buy the 2003 cane crop without government bailing it out.
Mr. Chaudhry said he was reliably informed Mc Fadden had business interests outside. “I am told that he is out of the country virtually every two weeks and he has hardly been in the factories.”
“His management style is very arbitrary and very dictatorial. He has annoyed our local people. The problems in mill transportation everywhere is because of his arrogant attitude to our local people.
“Until such time as this cancer is removed from the industry, I do not think the local people in the mills will co-operate at all because they have a genuine grievance.
“We have seen this man’s performance. We brought him here to turn the industry around, but he has done exactly the opposite,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
He said the board and senior management of FSC were responsible for the “dire straits in which Fiji Sugar Corporation finds itself today” and they must go.
“If we continue to keep these people there, I am afraid that whatever system we introduce be it the quality cane payment or any thing else, the industry would not come right,” Mr. Chaudhry said.