Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cane farmers ‘unaware' of $6.5m deal

FCGA ‘unaware' of $6.5m deal - Wednesday, March 25, 2009
THE Fiji Cane Growers Association claims members were kept in the dark about the Sugar Cane Growers Fund's $6.56million loan to a fertiliser company at the expense of cane farmers.
Association general secretary Bala Dass said farmers felt cheated by Mahendra Chaudhry, the then sugar minister who gave the order in June 2008.
Mr Dass was reacting to the $4.02 per tonne third cane payment announced for growers, which also has deduction for the loan given to South Pacific Fertilizer Limited by the SCGF.
He said the remaining $2 was likely to be deducted in May but found it deceitful that farmers had been short-changed by $1.98 and were compelled to pay the part of the debt of the technically insolvent SPF.
"Mr Chaudhry directed FSC and SCGC that the money paid to SPFL be recovered from industry proceeds and this meant FSC pays 30 per cent of the $6.56m, which comes to $2m ($1.98m) and growers pay 70 per cent of the $6.56m.
"Growers' share of the deduction is therefore $4.6m ($4.592m) from cane proceeds or about $2 a tone from the third cane payment which has been confirmed by SCGC. The certified amount would have $8.02 a tonne as the third cane payment and $2 a tonne of cane has been deducted as repayment of $4 a tonne advance payment following the floods in January."
Mr Dass said farmers were demanding an answer from Mr Chaudhry and urged authorities to take those involved to task.
"The association calls on the authorities to institute an inquiry into this fraudulent activity. Worse still, the farmers are now learning that the directive to short-change them was given by none other than Chaudhry –– a man anointed with the task of protecting sugarcane farmers after having been installed as interim sugar minister."
Attempts to obtain a comment from Mr Chaudhry were futile yesterday after numerous calls to his mobile and home landline were not answered.

Investigate $6.5m advance: FPP
By MARY RAUTOMonday, March 30, 2009
THE Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) has been sought to investigate the $6.56million advance to the South Pacific Fertilisers Company, which farmers have to repay.
Fiji People's Party general secretary Charan Jeath Singh says a full scale investigation should be launched into dealings by the interim PM Voreqe Bainimarama, Mahendra Chaudhry, FSC chairman Bhoo Prasad Gautam and the entire FSC board of directors.
"...the farmers have been cheated outright, which is why my party is asking FICAC to get to the bottom of this issue and expose all the culprits who got the farmers into this situation today," he said.
* For earlier story, click on FCGA 'unaware' of $6.5m deal

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