8 Jul 2002

Fiji Prime Minister says sugar industry must change or it will collapse

4:06 pm on 8 July 2002

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says the country's sugar industry is doomed to collapse because it is run on political lines rather than good business practice.

Radio Fiji says Mr Qarase made the comment at today's informal talks between the ruling SDL and the Fiji Labour Party which are being mediated by Dr Sitiveni Halapua of the East West centre.

The talks are focussing on Fiji's land lease problems, particularly in the sugar industry, and possible changes to the 1997 constitution.

Mr Qarase says politics is the biggest problem facing the sugar industry.

He says the land issue is only a part of the complex problems facing sugar.

Mr Qarase says that had it not been for the preferential prices paid by the European union, Fiji's sugar industry would have collapsed a long time ago.

He says unless the sugar industry operates along good business practice lines, it would be very difficult to resurrect it from its present position.