Friday, April 09, 2010

NFU rejects new Council of Sugar Cane Growers

Posted on Fiji Labour Party Website

8 April 2010

The National Farmers Union has written to the Sugar Ministry rejecting
the newly established Council of Sugar Cane Growers (CSCG) as a
representative organisation of the cane farmers.

A Ministry of Information (Minfo) release issued after a Cabinet
meeting last Tuesday stated that CSCG would be a successor
organisation to the Sugar Cane Growers Council (SCGC) which was
unlawfully disbanded by the regime last year, along with the Sugar
Commission of Fiji and the Fiji Sugar Marketing Ltd.

The NFU letter pointed out that the newly established Council cannot
be regarded as a genuinely representative organisation of the cane
farmers as appointments to it would be made by the authorities and not
the growers themselves.

The CSCG is to have 11 members, 8 of whom will be growers selected by
the Sugar Ministry from applications received in response to its
advertisement. The other three will be civil servants one of whom will
be the chairperson.

According to the Minfo release, the activities of the new body will be
funded by a levy to be paid by cane growers at the rate of 24 cents
per tonne of cane.

NFU has pointed out that the operating expenses of the CSCG should
rightly be paid by the State but, more appropriately its establishment
should not be proceeded with and the industry institutions referred to
above be reinstated as provided for in the Sugar Industry Act.

Provided below is the full text of the NFU letter to the Permanent
Secretary for Sugar:

8 April 2010

The Permanent Secretary for Sugar
Ministry for Sugar
4th Floor Government Building

Dear Sir

Council of Sugar Cane Growers (CSCG)

We refer to a Ministry of Information (Minfo) release notifying that
Cabinet has approved the establishment of a Council of Sugar Cane
Growers to administer the affairs of sugar cane growers and be the
“successor body” to the purportedly dissolved Sugar Cane Growers

We note from the Minfo release that it is the intention of the
Ministry to make consequential amendments to the Master Award “in
order to reflect the establishment of the CSCG…”

We also note from the release that CSCG is to be funded by a general
levy on cane growers at the rate of 24 cents per tonne of cane.

We have already drawn your attention in our previous letters to the
fact that the purported and forced dissolutions of the elected Sugar
Cane Growers Council, the Sugar Commission of Fiji and the Fiji Sugar
Marketing Ltd are all unlawful as these were done in contravention of
the relevant provisions of the Sugar Industry Act 1984.

The newly established CSCG, we note from the release, is to comprise
eight growers “representatives” to be selected by the authorities from
the applications received in response to its advertisement, and three
official representatives one of whom is to be the chairperson.

It is thus clear that CSCG cannot be regarded a genuinely
representative body of the cane growers as appointments to it would be

decided by the authorities and not the growers themselves. In the
event, it would be iniquitous and injudicious to impose its
operational expenses on the growers. This expense should rightly be a
charge on the consolidated fund.

I should remind you that one of the first acts of the military
government when it took office in December 2006 was to dismiss the
eight government nominees on the Sugar Cane Growers Council as an
affront to the democratic process. The interim government is now
reversing this earlier decision.

Furthermore, the High Court in Lautoka had ruled in a judgment
delivered on 17 July 2003 in the case of Silimaibau & Anor v Minister
for Sugar Industry… (HBC 155.01) that the purported nomination by the
Sugar Minister of 8 members to the Sugar Cane Growers Council was
“null and void and of no legal effect”.

The judgment found that the nomination of unelected members to the
Council reduced the rights of growers and changed the democratic
provisions by altering the results of the growers council elections.

The future of the Sugar Industry

The NFU is apprehensive about the sugar industry’s future judging from
its abysmal performance in the past three years (2007-2009), more
particularly the 2009 season. Whether the industry survives well into
the future depends very much on the growers being satisfied with the
financial returns as well as the administrative and technical
arrangements applicable to the cultivation, harvesting, transportation
and milling of their cane.

This can only be ensured provided the growers are left free to decide
on their own affairs and are not subjected to State patronage as is
the case today. It can be said without doubt that the industry is
headed for more problems under the prevailing conditions.

We urge you to take note of the above and reinstate the SCGC and other
industry organisations as provided under the Sugar Industry Act.

I shall be grateful for your response to the representations herein as
soon as possible.

Yours faithfully

Mahendra P. Chaudhry
General Secretary

Comments posted on Matavuvale .com

  • Mahendra Chaudary, the FLP and the NFU are now trying to climb out of the hole they have dug themselves into and this is what they get for playing politics with the sugar industry and for supporting the quest to topple the Qarase led coalition.
  • After all, did not Mrs Koroi the President of the Labour Party, uttered out some controversial statement urging the Military to seize power months before the actual coup happened? Such seditious comments should have warranted a jail term. To them at that stage, the end (overthrow of Qarase) justify the means (use of the Fiji Military).
  • The Indian Cane Farmers deserve all they are getting now for always believing in Chaudary. Unfortunately, their own prejudice and fear got the better of them where they were not able to choose with reasons and swayed to the militant extremes of Mahend's message rather then the rational and moderate views of NFP and the Kissan Sangh.
  • The next best thing the Fiji Labour Party and National Farmers Union can do now is genuinely confess their sin to the SDL and NFP and genuinely work with them for the restoration of freedom and democracy in Fiji. They can start by putting their money where their mouth is and send back to Bainimarama the parliamentary pension they are being paid in solidarity with the former SVT and SDL members of parliament who now are not paid any parliamentary pension.
  • In their devious vile methods, the unelected and illegal Bainimarama Government has only stopped pensions paid to former SDL and selected SVT people but kept on paying all FLP pensioners.

No comments: