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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 17) - Fiji’s ailing sugar industry has been put in further jeopardy, as a row escalates between the Labor Party and the government.

Labor has refused to name members to the parliamentary select committee on sugar industry reform, which was agreed to, during recent "talanoa" talks.

Labor is now boycotting the committee’s meetings.

The Labor leader Mahendra Chaudhry says he should have been consulted when the Minister For Agriculture appointed the government’s eight nominees to the Sugar Cane Growers’ Council.

Mr Chaudry says Labor will not support the government’s guarantee of a US$35 million loan to a company which has the same board as the technically bankrupt Fiji Sugar Corporation.

But Radio Legend reports that the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has asked Mr Chaudhry to stop playing games and help the sugar industry recover.

Mr Qarase says Mr Chaudhry has no business in the appointment of the government’s nominees to the Cane Growers Council and he should live up to the promises he made in parliament to take part in the sugar select committee.

May 18, 2004

Radio New Zealand International:

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