26 Nov 2007

Fiji sugar industry unhappy at lack of support for industry in Budget

4:03 pm on 26 November 2007

Fiji's latest budget has disappointed sugar growers, who say the industry could be heading for collapse in less than 5 years.

Interim finance minister Mahendra Chaudhry announced the 930-million US dollar budget for 2008, which aims to keep the deficit at 2% of GDP.

Bala Dass, the General Secretary of the Fiji Canegrowers Association is disappointed that growers were only given the abolition of the drainage levy, and 5-million dollars for support.

"Mr Chaudhry himself has said many times that he wants to see farmers get a minimum of 55-dollars per tonne. But unfortunately there's nothing in this budget. And that 5-million dollars, that's a very small sum. I really think that the sugar industry is heading towards a very big problem, and I personally feel, and my association feels that the time is very near when this industry will collapse."

Bala Dass says it is predicted that by 2009, sugar prices will have decreased 36%, which won't be enough to sustain the 200-thousand people relying on the industry.