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Nearly $19 million put into effort to save sugar industry

By Serafina Silaitoga SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 20,2011) - Upgrading works planned for the Dreketi-Nabouwalu highway to the cost of FJ$35million [US$18.8 million] has been put on hold as funding allocated for the project was used to salvage challenges faced by the Fiji Sugar Corporation last season.

This was made known at the Northern Development Board meeting in Labasa this week by the Commissioner Northern Lieutenant-Colonel Inia Seruiratu.

Lt-Col Seruiratu's comment was in response to board member Alipate Radrodro's query about the upgrading works along the Dreketi-Nabouwalu highway.

"Unfortunately, the funding for this road for 2011 had to salvage FSC's problems when it needed help so the project has been put on hold," Lt-Col Seruiratu said.

"But Government still has this road upgrading project as a priority and when funding is allocated to the road work, Government will move into it right away."

The IMF this week recommended that the Government divest the Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Meanwhile, Lt-Col Seruiratu told the meeting that considering Government's commitment in upgrading roads in the north, the people needed to make use of the new roads by increasing economic activity.

"Government is not going to please people for the sake of pleasing them through developments but we need to justify the need for the road upgrades that when a road is upgraded, there will be increased economic activity," he said.

"Government is prioritising the upgrading of roads and one that will reward us. We won't just upgrade any road and as stewardships of Government's finance, we need to ensure that the fundings are used well," Lt-Col Seruiratu said.

He told the meeting that the Lagi Nukusere upgrading works towards the Udu Point area is almost complete.

The upgrading of island jetties have also been eyed for upgrading including the Rabi Island jetty which is almost complete.

"We are also looking at shifting the jetty at Natuvu in Buca Bay area because it sits on private property," Mr Seruiratu said.

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