Brown: No Plans to Revive quality payment project
The Fiji Sugar Industry Tribunal has no plans to revive a project that paid growers for sugar content rather than cane weight, a top official has confirmed. Timothy Brown, industrial commissioner and registrar of the tribunal, said the project was shelved after they could not afford to continue paying the growers.
“It is called the NIR project but it is actually a Cane Quality project system,” Mr Brown said.
“The industry had embarked on a journey to look at new ways of paying growers for the cane they produce and we wanted to pay them on sugar content than on cane weight.” Mr Brown was fronting the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on queries raised in a 2015 audit report.
Mr Brown said Government co-funded the project with $4 million in aid.
He said the operation costs were met by the tribunal.
Basically, the whole project was to assess each growers cane individually and find out what was the content of sugar and work out with the millers and the growers a formula on how to pay those growers,” he said. “When the industry could not fund this project, we sought assistance from the Government but the PS wrote back and said the Government would not assist in any way so the project had to be put on ice.”
He said it was the third time the industry had to put the project on “ice.”
Mr Brown also revealed that the tribunal was currently putting together a three-person team, including an official from the Ministry of Sugar, to go through its asset register.
The team will be tasked with identifying assets the tribunal still uses despite them having a zero value, he said.
It is called the NIR project but it is actually a Cane Quality project system