10 Mar 2005

Fiji opposition leader forecasts grim days for sugar industry

11:14 am on 10 March 2005

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has warned that he doubts the country's sugar industry will survive after the European Union's preferential prices end in 2007.

This is despite the 55-million US dollars are being poured in to restructure the ailing industry.

Mr Chaudhry says the injection of this money would achieve little if the industry continues to run at a loss of about 8-million US dollars a year after the EU subsidies end.

He says the Fiji Sugar Corporation itself has made the loss forecast.

Mr Chaudhry, who is also general secretary of the National Farmers Union, says this would raise serious concerns about the financial security of farmers who are in for huge losses.

He says the focus should now shift to whether cane planting would bring any returns to farmers, particularly with the added financial burden being paced on them by the reform programme.