25 Jun 2012

EU bypasses Suva regime in Fiji sugar funding

1:00 pm on 25 June 2012

The head of the European Union in Fiji says funding for research and development in the sugar industry is being directed through non-government organisations and regional organisations and not through Fiji's interim government.

Alistair MacDonald says the EU has supported the sugar sector with 20 million euro since 2006, with much of this granted in the last two years.

But he says it continues to wait for the country to return to democracy before negotiating to resume normal agreements.

Mr MacDonald says until Fiji respects its commitments, it's not possible for the EU to restore its usual assistance.

"We do recognise the severity of the problems facing the workers in the sugar industry. So we did decide to do what we could there; not working through the government, but working through NGO's or through regional organisations. That said however, there have been some important recent developments in Fiji."

Mr MacDonald says the abolition of the Public Emergency Regulations in January, the appointment of the Constitutional Commission and timeline indications for the Constitution leading to elections by September 2014 are all very encouraging developments, but a lot remains to be done.