14 Jun 2004

Fiji Labour party ends boycott of sugar industry committee

7:29 am on 14 June 2004

The Fiji Labour Party is to end its boycott of the joint parliamentary select committee set up to rescue the country's collapsing sugar industry.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has told a meeting of his National Farmers Union that this follows agreement by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, to replace the entire board and the chairman of the mostly state-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Their terms expired on May the 31st but Mr Qarase had earlier insisted that he retain some of them.

Mr Chaudhry says the board members, who had been in office for five years, must take responsibility for bankrupting the sugar corporation.

He says replacing the entire board was one of the conditions for Labour ending its boycott of the sugar select committee.

He says Mr Qarase has also agreed that the new managing director of the corporation must be a local citizen with the necessary expertise.

Mr Chaudhry says for the sugar industry to rebuild itself from its current state, the corporation has to start with a clean slate.