19 May 2004

Fiji's Sugar Cane Growers Council says IT needs to assess planned reforms prior to politicians makin

10:22 am on 19 May 2004

Fiji's Sugar Cane Growers council says IT should assess plans to reform the industry prior to politicians making decisions.

The council's CEO, Jaganath Sami, says it's writing to the prime minister, Liasenia Qarase, to say a parliamentary select committee sitting to discuss the future of the industry, should wait for its recommendations.

He says the council has concerns about some areas of the reforms including the planned phasing out of the rail system when it's probably the cheapest option.

Mr Sami also says alternative livelihoods for some small cane farmers need to be looked at.

"I think the government went wrong to take it at a political level before even bringing it to the stakeholders. Now that we have elected members of the council, the reforms should be brought for discussion with the council, the true representative of the growers in matters of sugar. And, after we have arrived at consensus, it should then be taken to the parliamentary select committee."

Mr Sami also says the Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry shouldn't be using the government nominees to the council as an excuse not to name its members to the parliamentary select committee on sugar.