FRANK BAINIMARAMA: “Given the importance of our sugarcane industry, we are constantly exploring ways to improve existing systems and appoint the right people to the right jobs at all levels. That includes ensuring that we have skilled and steady strategic direction at the very top. Mr [Vishnu] Mohan has consistently demonstrated that he has the talent, experience, and know-how to create complex financial solutions and develop the kind of sustainable strategies for growth that our sugarcane industry needs and our sugarcane farmers deserve to prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
FSC RESHUFFLE CHANGES NOTHING FOR CANE GROWERS
The appointment of former ANZ Chief Executive Vishnu Mohan as the Chairman of Fiji Sugar Corporation as well as the appointment of Abdul Khan as the Chief Executive Officer of FSC is a case of nepotism and cronyism of the highest order.
There have been many allegations labelled against Mr Khan especially about his salary, perks and privileges. Appointments were not based on meritocracy.
Any shareholder in a company should be concerned, especially if it happens to be the Government, which is the largest shareholder and has pumped in millions of dollars of taxpayer funds in loans and guarantees into FSC.
However, the Fiji First Government has blatantly disregarded all ethics of transparency and god governance by announcing Mr Mohan as new Chairman. He has a conflict of interest because during his term in ANZ he developed the export finance facility for FSC. FSC also has loans with ANZ guaranteed by Government.
Mr Mohan is also the Chairman of Public Service Commission. Therefore he is a political appointee of the Fiji First Government. He is qualified as a commercial banker but has no knowledge of the sugar industry.
Once again, this Government has demonstrated that the appointment is to try and save the technically insolvent at the expense of writing off its Government loans and subjugating cane growers through the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry and Sugar Cane Growers Fund (Amendment) Bills, which have been totally rejected by growers.
Furthermore, this is seemingly part of FSC’s Strategic Plan that has never been revealed to the cane growers who are the largest stakeholders in the industry and genuinely fear reduction in their income with change in the formula determining sharing of proceeds from sale of sugar from the current 70/30 in favour of growers.
These appointments change nothing for growers and the industry as a whole. FSC will continue to be technically insolvent because already growers are demoralized and one must never forget that without cane growers’ increasing the crop production from the current low levels, there is no FSC.
In Mr Abdul Khan, FSC now has a CEO who as Executive Chairman did not hold the Corporation’s AGM for four years until May last year. He was a Board Member from October 2009 till December 31st 2010. From 1st January 2011, he was FSC’s Executive Chairman enjoying hefty salary, perks and privileges while FSC’s debt continued to rise astronomically.
The Fiji First Government has now rewarded him with the CEO’s position.
It is once again clear that this Government is clueless and not at all serious about reviving the industry that directly and indirectly supports the livelihood of some 200,000 people.
If Government is really concerned about the viability of FSC, it should authorise independent investigation into the management and operations of FSC to determine the truth.
Abdul Khan should immediately step aside and Vishnu Mohan should not take up his new appointment to ensure freedom and independence of the investigation process.