Fiji, EU Sign Sugar, Agricultural Industry Recovery Agreement

Europe to provide $11 million to assist sector recovery from cyclone

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 1, 2016) – Fiji has signed an agreement with the EU that will result in a huge financial boost of $23 million for the agriculture and sugar sectors in their recovery efforts post-Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama signed the agreement with the EU's Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, at the EU-ACP Summit in Port Moresby yesterday.

Mr Mimica said the support would be dispersed as direct budget support for Government to utilise in priority areas identified in recovery plans for the agriculture and sugar sectors as outlined in a comprehensive Post Disaster Needs Assessment.

"The EU is proud to offer its assistance to Fiji during these trying times for the country," he said.

"The $23m will not only help the sugar and agriculture sectors to recover quickly, but will also give hope and optimism to hundreds and thousands of Fijian citizens who depend on the sectors for their livelihoods and survival."

Mr Bainimarama thanked the EU for the timely assistance, saying it would bring much-needed relief for the 200,000 people dependent on the sugar sector.

He said the allocation is on top of the $65.5m already pledged by the EU to Fiji under the National Indicative Program of assistance for sugar and agriculture and improving access to justice and also on top of the $2.3 million given in the immediate aftermath of Winston.

"We are very gratified by the confidence the European Union is showing in our budgetary process and the management of our public finances," he said.

"You are recognising that the best way to deliver assistance is through a partnership with the Government. And your example is one that we hope our other development partners will emulate."

The PM informed Mr Mimica that of the total damage bill to the nation of more than $3 billion, around $540m was attributed to the agricultural sector.

Mr Bainimarama said losses in the sugar cane industry amounted to $163m.

"The loss of workers' livelihoods is $53m. The damage and losses at the Fiji Sugar Corporation's mills is more than $72m. Production infrastructure losses are almost $17m and a further $19.7m has been lost in industry services.

"So there is no doubting the extent of the challenge faced by the 200,000 Fijians who depend on sugar for their livelihoods or those in other agricultural sectors."

Fiji Times Online.
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