CHAUDHRY CHIDES QARASE OVER SUGAR POLICY

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 31) - The leader of the Fiji Labor Party, former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, says Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase needs to consult all stakeholders in the sugar industry before making policies that affect them.

This follows the Qarase government’s plan for 60 percent of all new farm leases, issued as current leases expire, to go to indigenous Fijians.

Mr Chaudhry says the announcement was made without consulting the parliamentary select committee being set up to resolve land issues.

He says the idea won’t work because most of the productive land has gone to bush, and many Indian farmers have resettled elsewhere.

Mr Chaudhry says many farmers do not feel secure to return.

"The fact of the matter is, that the Indians are of course are very wary of farming on native land now because of such policy statements and so I suppose what I can see in the future is that unless things are sorted out properly and by consultation, Indian cane farmers will exit the sugar industry which means the industry will die a natural death."

May 31, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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