Enable more time for thorough consultations on the Sugar Industry Bills

CCF CEO Mr. Bulutani Mataitawakilai and Research Officer Mr. Aman Nath during the submissions at the Parliamentary Complex on Monday May 23, 2016. PHOTO: Gregory Ravoi (CCF)
CCF CEO Mr. Bulutani Mataitawakilai and Research Officer Mr. Aman Nath during the submissions at the Parliamentary Complex on Monday May 23, 2016. PHOTO: Gregory Ravoi (CCF)

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum urges the Government to enable more time for thorough consultations on the proposed Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill and Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Amendment Bill 2016.

“The two Sugar Industry Reform Bills needs major amendments pursuant to widespread consultations to ensure inclusivity of all voices in the spirit of active citizenry,” said Mr. Bulutani Mataitawakilai, the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum.

The CEO made the following remarks during the CCF’s submission on the two Sugar Industry Reform Bills to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs at the Parliamentary Complex on Monday May 23, 2016.

CCF’s submissions on the two Sugar Industry Bills are highlighted as the following:

o   Whilst the Government would eventually pay off the FSC’s debt, the Government as its guarantor must hold those responsible for the ballooned debt and mismanagement accountable since this is a travesty of good governance, accountability and transparency

o   Oppose the Sugar Industry Tribunal to be transferred to the Ministry of Sugar

o   Government to consider the findings of the impending Ratuva Report on any amendments to the Master Award

o   Government to reserve fines and penalties for genuine offenses, such as on labourers who abscond by taking advantage from cane growers and arsonists who burn cane farms. Instead, the Government is urged to encourage cane growers to plant more cane by offering innovative initiatives such as expanding the Cane Planting Grant schemes

o   Sugar Institute Research of Fiji to forge partnerships with the local universities in order to access scientific research advice on sugar from experts

o   Print copies of the two Bills in the two major vernaculars, Hindustani and iTaukei to enable all stakeholders to access the contents in these Bills in a familiar language so as to inform them prior to their submissions made over a longer period of time.

Mr. Mataitawakilai also revealed to the Committee previous CCF activities in the cane belt areas in the Northern and Western Division from 2001 to 2011 that included facilitating a series of Land Dialogue workshops between the iTaukei landowners and the tenants who are sugar cane farmers.

The CEO was accompanied by Research Officer Mr. Aman Nath and Communications Officer Mr. Gregory Ravoi during the submissions made at the Parliamentary Complex on Monday May 23, 2016.

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