Government Ministries under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Yogesh Karan, have tailor-made their operational plans to suit their respective 2020-2021 budgetary allocations.
With the new allocations, Mr Karan said now more than ever is the time to work smarter and also for staff to economise to save extra costs.
Apart from the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Karan is also the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Sugar Industry, Immigration and acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
“Even though the allocations for the various Ministries have been slashed, this budget has been outlined very well, taking into account stimulus packages, the revival of the economy and also creating an atmosphere of innovation among people to not just think outside of the box but beyond when it comes to earning an income,” he said.
“For the civil servants in the Ministries I look after, I have stressed to them the importance of working smarter. It’s also high time that staff learn the importance of economising to allow us to save extra operational costs.
‘Our services to the people of Fiji will not slow down, in fact, we will continue the momentum. We have to do more with the less that we have. We will work around these allocations and maintain the work pace.”
For the Ministry of Sugar Industry, the Permanent Secretary said Government will continue with its ongoing support and commitment to sustain the Industry.
One such capital project that the Ministry will continue to pursue is the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme. Government has allocated more than $15 million towards this programme in the 2020-2021 financial year and this is to ensure that the growers apply the required amount of fertiliser to their cane fields and replenish nutrient loss.
Mr Karan said the Ministry will also introduce the green manuring programme.
Green manuring is a process whereby leguminous plants such as pulses, lentils, peas, peanuts and mucuna that are capable of trapping nitrogen from the atmosphere are incorporated into the soil to improve soil health. These plants will be cultivated on the same land few months prior to cane planting.
Since 2016, both the cane production and yield has continually increased from 1.39m tonnes of cane and 37 tonnes of yield to 1.81m tonnes in 2019 with a yield of 48 tonnes per hectare; an increase by 30 percent in yield from 2016.
On average, the cane production cost is $31.00 per tonne and average harvesting and cartage cost of $30.00 per tonne. About 40 percent of the cane production cost is actually absorbed by the Government through weedicide (55 percent) and fertiliser subsidies (56 percent).
Mr Karan added; “The growers are still making profit averaging from $25 to $35 for every tonne of cane which is nearly 30 percent to 40 percent gross margin after costs are met. When compared to other businesses, the growers are way much better off at cane payment of $85 per tonne. So the higher the yield for farmers, the higher will be their total net income.”