7 Jun 2013

Fiji Labour leader blames regime for sugar industry woes

1:05 pm on 7 June 2013

The Secretary-General of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the current government has overseen the worst performance of the sugar industry on record.

Mr Chaudhry says sugar production has fallen from more than 300,000 tonnes in 2006, to 150,000 tonnes last year as a result of Commodore Frank Bainimarama's de-unionisation of the sugar industry.

Mr Chaudhry says the military government has lost the country millions of dollars worth of donor funding and the industry is on its knees.

"When the sugar reforms were brought in the EU approved a programme for Fiji which would have assisted the growers to the tune of something like 400 million dollars. And now because of negative political developments, because of the takeover and Bainimarama's refusal to conduct elections in 2009 as promised, this funding was suspended."

Mahendra Chaudhry.

This week, at a meeting of the International Sugar Council in Nadi, Commodore Bainimarama blamed his predecessors for the problems, saying his government was sparing no effort to revitalise the industry.

He said land that is fallow is being replanted and that Fiji is on the right path to increasing production and diversifying the sugar industry.