Commodore Bainimarama’s claim about a turnaround of the sugar industry is not supported by facts obtained from industry statistics, says FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
“In fact, the contrary is true. Cane production has been declining steadily since the military takeover of 2006 when 3.3 million tonnes of cane was crushed. Compare this with just 1.6 million tonnes crushed this year.
“Sugar production has fallen from 310,000 tonnes in 2006 to 160,000 tonnes in 2012. More than 3500 farmers have exited the industry since 2006, many just abandoning their farms or opting to grow other crops,” said Mr Chaudhry.
The regime’s replanting programme has failed to achieve targeted results. Harvesting and transportation costs have soared in the last three years, forcing many farmers to switch to other means of livelihood.
Overall the industry has declined by 50% compared to its performance in 2006.
The annual audited accounts of FSC have not been published for the past two years and it is believed that the Corporation is having difficulties in discharging its liabilities in time.
The forced government buyout of private shareholders has not been completedas yet raising serious questions about FSC’s delisting from the Fiji Stock Exchange. Moreover, shareholders’ AGMs have not been held since 2011.
All in all, the industry today is in a state of semi paralysis because of inept management and the authoritarian practices of the Sugar Ministry.
“The least Commodore Bainimarama could do is to learn to speak the truth,” said Mr Chaudhry.