21 Nov 2006

Fiji's opposition leader describes qoliqoli bill as a joke

9:29 am on 21 November 2006

Fiji's deputy opposition leader has described the government's Qoliqoli Bill, which will return ownership of the foreshores to the descendants of their original owners, as a joke.

Speaking in parliament, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau said the Bill was a joke because a large mass of land is lying idle in the country while Fiji continues to import food valued at over 180-million US dollars.

The Fiji Sun quotes Ms Ganilau as saying thousands upon thousands of vacant and re-possessed land is not being used, making Fiji the world's largest producer of weeds and grass.

She said the Qoliqoli Bill is a joke because Fiji imports over 13-million US dollars worth of prawns every year and most of it is from Kerala in India.

Ms Ganilau said the country imports 46% of its tuna which is then processed and exported as Fiji tuna.

As she put it, "So what's happening with all that land, all that water, all that assistance, all that talk and all those scams?"

Ms Ganilau said the government should implement a zero tolerance policy towards corruption because the prevalence of systematic corruption impairs political and economic development.