31 Oct 2003

Fiji government bill proposes major sugar industry shake-up

11:50 am on 31 October 2003

Revelations about the Fiji government's proposed restructure of the sugar industry are likely to cause a stormy protest.

Fiji TV revealed last night that a government bill on the restructure proposes the abolition of the Sugar Commission, the Sugar Industry Tribunal and the Sugar Cane Growers Council.

It also proposes the abolition of the Master Award brought in 35 years ago by the eminent British judge, Lord Denning, which governs relations between the farmers and the Fiji Sugar Corporation, and is widely regarded as the industry's constitution.

An angry chief executive of the Sugar Cane Growers Council, Jaganath Sami, is questioning what the abolition of all the governing bodies in the industry has to do with the annual losses of the technically bankrupt Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Mr Sami says he will be holding meetings in all sugar cane growing districts to elicit the views of farmers

The meetings are expected to show widespread opposition to the government's proposals.