9 Nov 2005

Fiji Sugar Corporation expected to begin upgrading of mills shortly

3:01 pm on 9 November 2005

The Fiji Sugar Corporation, or FSC, is expected to immediately draw on a large loan from India's state-owned Exim bank and begin the process of upgrading its four mills.

As part of an overall assistance package for Fiji's sugar industry, the Exim bank is extending a loan of 51 million US dollars to the FSC.

The sugar industry in Fiji must is faced with becoming more efficient and more productive as the European Union ends its preferential pricing for imported sugar and it faces .

The chief executive of the prime minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, says it's good news for Fiji because 200,000 people rely directly, or indirectly, for their livelihoods, on the sugar industry.

"For its survival, it urgently needs to be modernised and the loan is to enable that to take place, starting now and be completed by the middle of 2007. This is the upgrading of the mills as well as improving the productivity of the cane farms."

Mr Kotobalavu says bids have already been invited for the equipment that the mills need and the FSC board is expected to make a decision this week, on which company will be awarded the tender.