Provide irrefutable evidence or shut up

Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture FT FILE

ACTING Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Professor Biman Prasad has called on the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) leader and National Farmers Union (NFU) general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry to “provide irrefutable evidence that he promised to pay $110 per tonne of cane to cane growers during the campaign for the 2022 General Election or shut up’.

He made the comment after FLP leader and NFU general secretary Mr Chaudhry said the Finance Minister should honour his election promise and allocate funds in the budget to raise the price to $110 per tonne.

Professor Prasad said he never made any such promise during the last election campaign.

“He (Mr Chaudhry) cannot and will not provide irrefutable evidence that I, as leader of the National Federation Party, promised a cane payment of $110 per tonne,” he said.

“He should shut up and stop being a petty-minded agitator who obviously cannot digest the inevitable fact that he will soon be in political oblivion.”

He said for the first time in four years, cane growers had been paid the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne and in fact the recent payment of $7.11 per tonne had taken the price paid so far to over the guaranteed price.

“Growers are happy with the prospect of receiving the highest ever cane payment that is extremely important to restoring their confidence, which is the prerequisite to the revival of the sugar industry.

“The likes of the FLP leader and his minions will not derail the Coalition Government’s resolve to restore dignity and justice to our growers, that was cruelly snatched away in the last 16 years. “Indeed, the FLP leader, as the Bainimarama regime’s finance and sugar minister for 18 months after the December 2006 coup, initiated the removal of democratisation of cane growers by seeking Cabinet approval to defer Sugar Cane Growers Council elections scheduled for 2007 because of his so-called reforms agenda.

“The rest is history and the SCGC was dissolved two years later in 2009.

“It is just one example of the FLP’s political deviousness that was wholeheartedly embraced by the Bainimarama regime and FijiFirst government in the last 16 years.

“Therefore, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.”

FLP leader and National Farmers Union general secretary Mr Chaudhry maintained that during the 2022 general election campaign, Prof Prasad promised cane growers that if he was elected his party would increase the guaranteed minimum cane price to $110.

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