PNG COPRA BOARD CHECKS PAID TO GROWERS BOUNCE

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By Veronica Hatutasi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 20, 2000 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---Immediately following the K 100 (US$ 34) per ton price assistance this week to copra growers throughout the country, checks paid to growers in Madang for the sale of their copra by the Copra Marketing Board bounced back, according to a source.

The source said after selling their produce and collecting their checks from the Madang Copra Marketing Board depot, the growers proceeded to the PNGBC bank only to find out that there was no money.

He said the many disappointed growers then returned to the depot for an explanation from the authorities and why there was no money.

This was confirmed by another reliable source. But he said he could not disclose more information on it nor on any other issues relating to the K 100 (US$ 34) per ton price support or on the current politics of the industry where growers are calling on the termination of the board executives and management allegedly for mismanagement and operational inefficiency.

He said all information on the subject would only be released from the board's Port Moresby headquarters.

According to this week’s reports, an internal board memorandum circulated to all branch managers advised of the new price increase and that for every ton of copra sold, growers would be paid an increase of K 100 (US$ 34).

The price increase is said to be effective as of Tuesday, October 17 until the end of this month.

Growers will be paid K 340 (US$ 115.60) per ton for Hot Air copra, K 320 (US$ 108.80) per ton FMS, and K 300 (US$ 102) per ton of smoked copra.

Growers in the copra producing provinces have been hard hit since the issue came to the fore last year and they have been very vocal about the new management and executive, whom they want terminated allegedly for incurring the industry with the current problems.

In a heated meeting between the growers in East New Britain, the PNG Growers Association (PNGGA), Chairman Nalau and some board members last week in Rabaul, the growers proposed a rescue package aimed at saving the Copra Marketing Board.

Among others, they called for a change of the structure and the termination of the chief executive officer James Kiele and others.

A call was also made to MPs from the 14 copra producing provinces to contribute a half million kina (US$ 170,000) of their rural development funds in a bid to support copra prices.

For additional reports from The Independent, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Independent (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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