The National Farmers Union and the National Federation Party are calling on the Government to honour its promise of a guaranteed minimum cane price of $85 per tonne as the final payment of $12.05 per tonne to be made tomorrow is $2.94 per tonne short of the $85 guaranteed price for the 2020 crop.
NFP Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says the growers would now receive only $82.06 per tonne for the 2020 season. He says growers have been betrayed and have every right to feel they have been cheated by Government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
Prasad says as far as the short-changing is concerned, it renders meaningless the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne as a guarantee is a unbreakable promise to fulfill the requirement.
Prasad says the Prime Minister’s daily overseas travel allowance of over $3,200 per day is more than most average producing growers will receive as net proceeds for their crop over a period of 16 months.
NFU’s General Secretary Mahendra Chaudhry says the growers have received $70.01 so far, leaving a balance of $14.99.
Chaudhry says the total amount paid per tonne for the 2020 crop comes to $82.06 and it was $82.88 for the 2019 crop with a shortfall of $2.12. He says the full $85 was paid only for the 2018 season which was incidentally the year the last general elections were held.
Chaudhry says if the growers were paid the full $85 per tonne in 2018, why were they not paid the same amount in 2019 and 2020. We have sent questions to the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Sugar, Yogesh Karan and the CEO of the Fiji Sugar Corporation, Bhan Pratap Singh. They are yet to respond.
Meanwhile, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had said in October last year that the $85 per tonne guaranteed cane price is a gross cane payment and from this amount, there are deductions like lorry transport cost and customs charges.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there are various master award recognized deductions and all these are deducted from the gross payment.
He says the Government is currently paying the cane farmers the difference between the world sugar price and the $85 cane payment and the final payment will have deductions as always done.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds in 2018, the FSC took care of these deductions.
He says people need to understand how deductions are made and not jump and say that government has betrayed the farmers.
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