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PM clarifies reforms to Sugar Bills

July 23, 2016 9:06 pm

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday clarified the misunderstanding among farmers on the reforms being undertaken on the two Sugar Bills.

The views of cane farmers are being taken on the Reform of Sugar Cane Industry Bill 2016 and the Sugar Cane Growers Fund.

During a public consultation with the farmers in Penang Rakiraki, Bainimarama said registered growers will no longer have to pay a fee for having their farms registered or changing their records.

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Bainimarama says conducting elections for the Cane Growers Council has been detrimental to the interests of the industry, instead the government will expand the membership.

“I’m sure you will all agree that a Council that is not politicized will perform a lot better. So I will be increasing the membership of the Council by ensuring that each district will be represented on the Council. Furthermore, this expanded Council will be required by law to consult all the growers through their sectors and districts on a regular basis.”

Bainimarama says they will also remove the section on industrial disputes from the Bill.

“This means that if you decide not to plant or harvest your cane, that will be your choice. Whether it is a protest or not, we are empowering you to make the decision for yourself. If your neighbour wants to harvest and cultivate, that will be his choice.”

The Prime Minister has also clarified that the Sugar Industry Tribunal is independent as it is appointed by the Chief Justice.

One of the major functions of the Tribunal is to establish and regulate a master award to control the contractual relationship between FSC and the cane farmer.

Any changes to the Master Award will now require input from the Growers Council, the FSC and the public.

The Sugar Minister also has to get consent from the SCGC and the FSC before implementing any new Master Award.

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