Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said Tourism was one of the fastest growing sectors under his government in 1999/2000, rubbishing allegations by the Prime Minister that he had stifled it by cutting off funds.
“It was one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy. After years of stagnation, we had brought back investor confidence with some $300 million worth of Tourism investment projects poised to take off when the 2000 coup took place,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
These new projects were expected to create 3000 additional jobs in the industry.
“The ground work for much of the major development taking place in the industry today were laid by the Labour-led government. I had done the ground-breaking ceremony for the Hilton Hotel. The Sofitel Hotel and the second phase of TrendWest were also our initiatives.
“So what is the Prime Minister talking about? Yes, I had cut off some of the funding from the Fiji Visitors Bureau because money was being wasted in promoting markets that had no value for us.
“But there was no adverse impact on the industry. On the contrary, Tourism showed record growth under our direction, surpassing the 400,000 visitor arrival target for the first time ever.
‘These facts are indisputable. The Prime Minister should learn to tell the truth. Labour believes in prudent management of public finances, not wastage and the huge handouts to buy votes that have become the hallmark of the SDL government,” Mr. Chaudhry said.