4 Dec 2012

New Fiji head of international sugar body has crippled domestic industry: union

3:27 pm on 4 December 2012

The president of Fiji's National Farmers Union says the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has virtually crippled the sugar industry in his own country.

Surendra Lal's comment follows the Commodore's appointment as chair of the London-based International Sugar Organisation, which comprises 86 member states.

In his acceptance speech, Commodore Bainimarama highlighted the importance of a healthy sugar industry to Fiji's economy.

But the farmers union's Surendra Lal says in abolishing the Fiji Sugar Commission and restricting the operations of the growers council the military government has disabled the institutions essential to the industry's health.

"These were the organisations where we had a side by side approach to the sugar industry. There are so many issues which are pertinent to the sugar industry that have to be talked through and listened to and then decisions made on a round table basis where we have bilateral talks over the issues."

Surendra Lal says he hopes Commodore Bainimarama's appointment brings him to his senses about how to reverse the declining fortunes of Fiji's sugar industry.

He says otherwise he doubts the industry will survive.