Bloggers, in todays Fiji Sun, an article quoted sugar cane growers representatives pleading with the interim government to have General Elections in 2009. For the first time in a long time NFU and the Fiji Cane Growers Association are in agreement on something.
What SV is wondering is why the deafening silence from that forked tongue snake and NFU General Secretary, Mahend Chaudary. He knew that there will be no election in 2009 so quickly got out so he can go and paint a different picture to those gullible sugarcane farmers.
The majority of those cane farmers themselves supported the 2006 coup and he as their representative happily joined as a cabinet minister to be a savior of the economy and pump money to the farmers.
If in the next election the FLP again gets a landslide result from the Sugarcane Belt, then the farmers basically deserve all the lies and false claims the FLP has been giving them since 1987.
from todays Fiji Sun
Sugar industry stakeholders have pleaded with the interim Government to hold elections next year for the sake of the ailing industry.
The pleas come after the European Union announced that it doubted the interim regime would meet its conditions for the resumption of its aid to the industry.The four-member delegation was from the European Parliament’s Committee on Development and were on a fact-finding mission.
Head of the delegation German European parliamentarian Gabriele Zimmer said their support for next year’s sugar crop was doubtful.
The 2009 Budget announcement supplement stated the sugar industry faced a lot of challenges since the December 2006 military coup.
This is after the EU withheld its aid package of $132 million for the 2008-2010 Multi-Annual Indicative Programme until progress on a number of commitments was achieved by the interim government, specifically the holding of elections in March, next year.
The programme focuses mainly on the improvement of on-farm cultivation, developing rural infrastructure and supporting agricultural diversification.
Fiji Cane Growers Association chief executive officer Mohammed Rafiq pleaded with the interim government to show some commitment to having elections sometime next year. He said the suspension of sugar industry development aid for another year could mean its collapse.
“If aid is suspended for another year it would be a big blow to farmers. We feel sorry for them as the industry could collapse if they suspend aid for a year,” said Mr Rafiq.
He called on the regime to do something positive for the sake of the farmers.
He said the whole country could be expected to suffer with the suspension, and highlighted that the northern division, which heavily relies on revenue from sugar, would be the hardest hit.
National Farmers Union president Sanjeet Maharaj pleaded with the State to show some commitment that would convince the EU in providing its sugar subsidies.
“The interim Government should hurry up and have elections as EU aid depends on this,” he said.
“They should show commitment by holding elections, if not by March next year then at the end of 2009.”
He agreed with Mr Rafiq that the sugar industry would not develop any further with the absence of such an aid.
“Unless the help is given (by EU) cane production will drop as this aid was meant for the planting of sugar cane and other development plans for the sugar industry,” he said.
In the 2009 budget the Sugar Industry Support Programme gets $5 million, an allocation which has drawn a lot of criticisms from sugar bodies.
FCGA general secretary Bala Dass said the allocation was “like pittance”.
He said the interim regime should just conduct the elections and put a stop to the suffering of cane farmers as a result of the suspension of aid for the development of their crop.
Sugar Commission of Fiji chairman John May said they met with the delegation on Saturday and briefed them on the challenges faced by the industry.
They were also briefed on the likely effect of the suspension of funds for sugar development.
He said the delegation was fully aware of the repercussions of the suspension on the further development of the ailing sugar industry.
At the moment they would go ahead with their programmes for cane development which included mills upgrade, cane development through available means, and a review of the industry’s transporting and carting system. They would also have to re-look at their marketing strategy.
However, Mr May said they would not comment on the conditions set by the EU or the interim Government.
“We can’t comment on that as the issue is between Government and EU as the aid package depends on any development between them,” he said.
Attempts to get a comment from former interim Finance and Sugar minister Mahendra Chaudhry were unsuccessful.
Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Deo Saran couldn’t be reached for comments too on the matter.