5 Mar 2004

Representatives of Fiji's Kadavu province angered by joint venture agreement

8:39 am on 5 March 2004

Representatives of Fiji's indigenous Kadavu Provincial Council are angry that their province has entered into a joint venture fisheries agreement with a company headed by a Chinese national with a recent criminal conviction in New Zealand.

Radio Fiji reports that the fisheries minister, Konisi Yabaki, himself an MP from Kadavu, has approved the venture which was negotiated between the chairman of the provincial council, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, and Peng Lee Lim.

Lim was convicted in the Wellington District Court of failing to pay 210-thousand US dollars in taxes deducted from employees' wages when his company, Seafresh New Zealand, went into liquidation.

The deputy chairman of the Kadavu Provincial Council, Varani Rayawa, and Kadavu senator, Jim Ah Koy, have expressed surprise that their province has a 30% share in Seafresh Fiji.

They say the council was given a proposal by Seafresh but no decision was taken to approve the venture with the company which appeared to be a unilateral decision.

Kadavu accepted Lim's business proposal after several other indigenous Fijian provinces had turned down his approaches.

Ratu Josetaki says he is happy with Seafresh Fiji which he says has nothing to do with Seafresh New Zealand.

Minister Yabaki says a long line fisheries license for Seafresh Fiji will be finalised soon.