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Cabinet to make decision on payment for squash pumpkin growers of Hahake after receiving a plea about their unpaid pumpkins taken by the Exporter

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 22/11/2019

The Cabinet will soon reveal their decision regarding an appeal from squash pumpkin growers of Kolonga, Talafo’ou, Pelehake and Ha’asini – for Government to pay for their pumpkins already taken by the Exporter.

Most of them are women – who have raised their concern with the Hon. Prime Minister, Dr. Pohiva Tui’onetoa yesterday. The chairperson of the Association of Kolonga pumpkin growers – Sioko Noa told Radio Tonga News – that the actual arrangement was with the previous government to find an exporter to buy their agricultural product and ship it to the market.

Sioko says it is their responsibilities to grow the pumpkins and they have managed to do so while the government failed their agreement. It includes the failed of the exporter to make the direct payment of growers once their boxes of pumpkin are passed by Quarantine and it’s been a while.

The government bear the cost for the expenses and the understanding between the 2 parties, is for the growers to refund that money to the government once they receive the price for their pumpkins.

The Prime Minister Hon. Pohiva Tui’onetoa in his response to the growers said, the cabinet will take up their issue in their meeting today and shall revert back with to them next week. He said his understanding while he was the Minister of Finance in the previous government, is for the growers to get their money once their pumpkin it is harvest and passed by the Quarantine.

The Minister of Labour and Commerce Hon. Samiu Vaipulu also added during an exclusive with Radio Tonga News, that this new government will honor the arrangement made by the former Minister with the growers and try to make the payment to the growers and see what they can do with the exporter. He said they’ve been trying to meet with the exporter it’s hard to get hold of her.

Hon. Vaipulu also emphasized that there was no written agreement or contract between the former Minister and the exporter, but they can take the case to the court because they have people to witness. He even told the Prime Minister that he will not issue an export license to the same Export Company if they are not going to refund the government’s money paid to the growers.

The Minister also raised his concern over the use of staff from the Ministry of Labour and Commerce to join the growers working at the packing house. He stressed that he will make sure it will not happen again, for the staff to leave the office to work packing the squash pumpkin.

 

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