Chaudhry backs decision
THE National Farmers Union has welcomed an announcement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to suspend the Rarawai mill cogeneration plant in Ba and Penang syrup mill in Rakiraki.
Mr Bainimarama, in a statement to the International Sugar Organization last week in Istanbul, Turkey, said the projects had been put on hold to allow for further feasibility studies to be undertaken.
NFU general secretary and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry claimed the Government’s decision to suspend the two projects came in the wake of submissions made by the union to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs on the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill last month.
“We had questioned the colossal $217 million quote for the Rarawai project given by FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan when our inquiries from competent sources revealed that the 40MW plant at Rarawai can be installed for less than $90m,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“This would include the cost of installing the 2x20MW turbines, building costs to the factory, as well as the cost of transporting bagasse from the mill to the cogeneration plant.”
The two projects were part of diversification plans announced by Mr Khan a few years ago.
Mr Khan said diversification was critical to the industry’s viability especially in light of the EU’s decision to end preferential quota access from next year.
Fiji, as a member of the African Caribbean Pacific group of sugar producing countries has enjoyed high sugar premiums from the EU since the mid-70s.
This arrangement ends in September next year.
Source fijitimes Thursday, June 02, 2016