11 Oct 2007

Fiji business leader calls on EU to reconsider hold on sugar aid

2:48 pm on 11 October 2007

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on the European Union to reconsider its decision to put on hold nearly 6-million US dollars in aid for the country's sugar industry.

The Fiji Times quotes the Chamber's acting president, Swani Maharaj, as saying the EU is not hitting the interim government, but the ordinary farmers and the people on the streets.

Mr Maharaj has called on the EU to release the funding, adding that it could always monitor how it is used.

He says the EU must realize that a census has been conducted, commissions set up to ensure that democracy is restored and the interim government has lifted the Public Emergency Regulations.

Meanwhile, the interim cabinet has approved urgent funding so the replanting of next year's cane crop can take place now, until the EU aid is released.

The interim minister for sugar, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the reform and restructure of the sugar industry will proceed regardless of whether financial assistance from the EU is released on time.