Indebted to local sugarcane farmers since 2013, Indian-owned NIVL JSC once again pledged to fully repay them during a recent dialogue held between the company’s leaders, local sugarcane farmers, and merchants, under the oversight of provincial officers. NIVL, however, refused media coverage of the dialogue.
At the beginning of May, over 20 sugarcane farmers and merchants gathered up at NIVL’s factory in Luong Hoa commune, Long An province, with banners hung high asking NIVL to pay for sugarcane bought in from 2013 through to 2016. NIVL, following the incident, closed down for days to prevent trespass and announced that its leaders were away on a business trip.
On May 11, NIVL held a public dialogue between general director A. Nandaa Kumar and some 40 local sugarcane farmers and merchants, who acted on behalf of those that have not received almost VND60 billion ($2.75 million) in due payments from the company.
While the dialogue took place from 3 PM through to 10 PM, the NIVL representative, on behalf of the general director, denied entrance to all reporters, despite the dialogue being open to the public. The reason given to the reporters was that the presence of media could distress the company’s general director.
At the meeting NIVL leaders continued promising to sell sugar to repay farmers and merchants in two designated phases. The first one was scheduled to May 16 and the second to June 30. Numerous farmers and merchants, however, expressed doubts over NIVL’s promises, as the company has made quite a number of pledges to pay them in full but failed to make them into reality.
According to Duong Van Ut, deputy chairman of Ben Luc District’s People’s Committee, the sugar factory is currently indebted some VND56 billion ($2.56 million) to local sugarcane farmers and merchants, of which VND16 billion ($733,944) is payments due for the 2016 season, while the remainder was accumulated over the previous seasons. However, an anonymous source disclosed that the arrears could be as high as VND95 billion ($4.35 million), with a number of households being owed some VND3-4 billion ($137,600-$183,480). According to this source, some the unpaid amount adds up to VND9 billion ($412,844).
In 2014, NIVL was besieged by local farmers to perform on unsettled bills worth VND150 billion ($6.88 million) that the company had yet to pay. NIVL subsequently managed to repay the furious farmers in instalments, yet the amount of its debts continued building up over the harvests until the current crop.
On April 27 and 28, various employees of the NIVL factory went on strike to demand that the company pay them their overdue wages in full. A NIVL representative then met up with the workers to discuss and settle the issues, promising to look into their requests on the remuneration policy, bonus, and medical insurance. To date, there have not been any specific solutions carried out by the sugar factory.
In the same month, NIVL was fined by the Southern Long An Provincial People’s Committee for discharging untreated toxic waste water into Vam Co Dong River. The fine imposed was VND350 million ($17,500), the highest ever inflicted on an environmental violator in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Vietnam Environment Administration.