4 Nov 2003

Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council says propsed industry restructure will be disastrous

11:54 am on 4 November 2003

The Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council says the proposed sugar industry restructure bill will be disastrous if it is adopted.

The council's chief executive officer, Jaganath Sami, says the draft legislation is designed to protect the Government's interests and exploit farmers.

Opposition is mounting to the bill, which proposes to abolish the Sugar Commission, the Sugar Industry Tribunal and the Sugar Cane Growers Council as well as the Master Award, which governs all aspects of relations between farmers and state-controlled Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Mr Sami says the bill was drafted by the Corporation, which mills the product.

"If this restructure is pushed through by the government, it is perhaps the quickest means of bringing the industry down. This will not provide any peace or stability to the industry. It will not be a fair structure providing the stimulation of growth. We are making the miller a Goliath. The growers will be very vulnerable and would be exploited by the millers and will remain at the mercy of the miller."

Mr Sami says the council is angry because the Government has ignored the views of every other stakeholder in the industry.