Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [left] and National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad
The Minister for Economy has hit out at National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad for speculating about the budget support given to the sugar industry, particularly farmers in the 2022-23 financial year.
The NFP Leader, in a statement, claims the FijiFirst Government, by drastically slashing the allocation for the guaranteed price of $85 for a tonne of sugarcane in the 2022-23 budget, has massively betrayed cane growers who will not receive the guaranteed price for the 2022 harvesting season.
Professor Prasad claims this is a massive betrayal of growers and proves that Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum misled both Parliament and the people of Fiji.
He further claims that the Budget Estimates show that only a sum of eight million dollars has been allocated for Sugar Stabilization Fund to be administered by the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
In response, Sayed-Khaiyum says the NFP is so desperate that they are resorting to lies.
Sayed-Khaiyum says in fact, the $85 guaranteed price will continue for the fourth consecutive year.
“NFP was very quick to make this sort of incorrect statement hoping to somehow or the other capitalize but we have said $85 a tonne. $8 million has been allocated. The $85 a tonne guaranteed means – if the world market price is $62, we pay the difference. We pay the difference between $62 and $85. If the World market price is $82 we will pay the difference. We will pay the difference between $82 and $85 so obviously it will be lesser the amount.”
Sayed-Khaiyum adds that NFP forgot to inform farmers that an increased budget of $25 million is provided to cater for fertilizer subsidy.
The Minister says Professor Prasad should take his statement back.
“The public should ask Biman Prasad to withdraw his statements as it is intentionally setting out to confuse the farmers and other stakeholders in a so desperate struggle clasping a straw for political survival.”
Sayed-Khaiyum says NFP is trying to confuse the public but they confuse themselves in the process and they need to focus on policy.
He goes on to say that NFP has never provided an alternative budget in the past.
He says the farmers well know the assistance the government has been giving them.