The National Farmers Union has rubbished accusations against it by the General Secretary of Fiji Canegrowers Association Bala Dass, as outbursts of a convoluted mind.
It is obvious that Bala Dass and his mentor SCGC Chief Executive Jagannath Sami, have nothing to offer the farmers except continuous bickering about their own failures which they attempt to blame on others, said NFU General Secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry.
Mr Chaudhry was replying to accusations from Mr Dass that he did not abolish the sugar export tax when he was prime minister and that the Fiji Labour Party did not protest the increase of the tax rate from 3% to 10% by the SDL government in its 2003 Budget.
“Both these accusations are baseless and can only come from people who are not mentally capable,” said Mr Chaudhry.
Bala Dass should read the Hansard on the 2003 Budget debate to educate himself on FLP’s vehement objection to the increase in the sugar export tax. He seems blissfully ignorant of this as he is of most matters connected with the sugar industry.
On the sugar export tax, the 1999 election manifesto of the Peoples Coalition specifically stated that it will repeal SVT government’s legislation, supported by Bala Dass’s NFP, requiring farmers to pay back the $27 million cash grant and crop rehabilitation loan which a Peoples Coalition government would repay from the sugar export tax revenue, said Mr Chaudhry.
“We did exactly that and all farmers, including those who supported the SVT/NFP Coalition, applauded our action and the benefits they received.
“The Peoples Coalition did not at any time promise that it would abolish the tax. So there is no question of lying about it. If anyone is lying on the subject, it is Bala Dass himself,” said Mr Chaudhry.
It is time for Bala Dass to stop his lies and divisive tactics. Farmers need to unite to fight off the impositions on them by the SDL government, FSC and the sugar Cane Growers Council. They must reject selfish people like Bala Dass whose entire focus is his own survival, Mr Chaudhry said.
Mahendra P Chaudhry