Fiji Farmers Concerned About Proposed Changes To 'Sugar Industry Bible'

Legislation allowing Sugar Minister to unilaterally change Master Award decried

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 4, 2017) – Serious concerns were raised by sugarcane growers about how a proposed piece of legislation could bring changes to the Master Award, the sugar industry bible.

Under the proposed Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill, the Sugar Minister will have the power to make amendments or changes to the Master Award after consulting the Fiji Sugar Corporation and Sugar Cane Growers Council.

While making submissions to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs at Tuva Primary School in Sigatoka on Tuesday, farmers expressed strong views.

Vikram Chand, a farmer from Lomawai, questioned the FSC's involvement in sections of the legislation that concerned growers.

"How can the miller be transparent and impartial in making decisions in terms of the Master Award?" he asked.

"FSC is the miller and it is there to make sugar."

Malomalo grower Velaydan Pillay said growers in Sigatoka were opposed to the proposed changes as suggested in the Bill.

"Any change must be done by the Sugar Industry Tribunal and not by the Sugar Minister as this Bill

proposes," he said.

"The Sugar Minister should also be someone who knows the industry from the ground up."

Standing Committee on Economic Affairs chairperson Lorna Eden said the concerns raised by the farmers would form part of their report that would be tabled in Parliament.

Fiji Times Online.
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