Labour responds to PM on the sugar industry

  • 11th March 2005
  • 2005
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Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has brushed aside claims by the Prime Minister that he was leaking confidential information from the ad hoc Sugar Select Committee meeting.

“There is no question of confidentiality. This is a matter of vital national interest and the people have to be kept informed of developments in the sugar industry.

“Besides, I am a representative of the cane farmers. How can I hide from them facts of such crucial interest to their future?” Mr. Chaudhry said.

The point is that the entire reform process needs to be relooked at if the FSC is to make losses of around $13 million annually after spending some $90 million in upgrading works.

“Even if the FSC manages to survive with profits from its co-generation project, the point is that the farmers will not be able to do so unless they are assured a guaranteed price which will make cane farming financially viable.

“Where does the question of insensitivity to the NLTB and the Great Council of Chiefs come into this as claimed by the Prime Minister? Isn’t he needlessly trying to give the matter a racial bias?

Sugar is too vital an issue to the nation to be confined to secret consultations.

“The Fiji Labour Party wishes to see a financially viable sugar industry and not one where the farmer will have to break his back to support other stakeholders,” said Mr. Chaudhry.