Directing his questions during Questions Without Notice this morning in Parliament to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Juffa raised concerns on the monopoly of the market and the benefits farmers will be missing out from the deal.
He said Oro and other provinces have already ventured into planting rice and such decisions might spoil the interest of the farmers.
“Can the Prime Minister confirm if the purported agreement of rice monopoly which will grant 80% of the domestic rice market had been signed or not?
“If indeed that is the case, then where will the company obtain its rice from, and what guarantee that the rice will be of quality to meet our consumer standard?”
Juffa added that there are reliable sources that the price of rice will increase immensely to 40% if this monopoly is granted to the foreign company.
He said the company (Naima Agro Industry) is linked to Djoko Tjandra, an Indonesian tycoon who fled Jakarta in 2009 facing fraud charges and who has no experience in the rice industry.
“What guarantee do we have that we may be have unwittingly facilitating the proceeds of crime?”
However, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill responded saying officials from the rice industries have been meeting with government officials and the discussions reached was not to try and create monopoly but to help our farmers grow rice and have food security in the country.
He said Trukai have been distributing rice in the country but was not distributing enough to cater for the entire population.
He said what the Government intending to do was to have a large scale commercially viable rice growing in various parts of the country that is able to meet the country’s demand.
O’Neill added that “we don’t have any choice but to grow rice in the country to cater for our demand.”
He said the cabinet is yet to get information and decision on the quota system.
He added that the 40 percent increase in the rice pricing is something for the price controller to decide on and it will be less than 40 percent.
He said various rice industries will continue to import rice but the government will be monitoring very closely.
O’Neill stressed that the government has never funded the project and will follow right procedures in dealing with the project.