26 Nov 2010

Fiji budget injects funds to salvage key sugar industry

1:00 pm on 26 November 2010

The Fiji interim government says it expects the economy to grow by 1.3 percent next year after a year of stagnation.

The figure was given by the acting interim finance minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, when he gave the budget address in Suva.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says inflation is expected to ease to about four percent by the end of this year.

He says a deficit of more than 100 million US dollars is forecast and that efforts are being made to refinance a bond due in September.

Highlighting the significance of the sugar industry in his speech broadcast live across Fiji, he says 123 million Fiji dollars will be spent on the sugars sector, with government taking control of much of the ailing Fiji Sugar Corporation.

"As a responsible government, we are committed to salvaging FSC and the sugar industry as more than 200,000 or 20 percent of the population depend on it for their livelihoods."

The budget was to be presented by the interim finance minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, but couldn't be back in time from China after he extended his visit twice.

The Reserve Bank governor, Sada Reddy, was also reported to be absent.