29 May 2004

Fiji Labour Party scathing on Government farm lease policy

8:20 am on 29 May 2004

The Fiji Labour Party has condemned the Qarase government's plan that 60 per cent of all new farm leases, which have been issued as the current leases expire, should go to indigenous Fijians.

Prime Minister Qarase made the policy announcement at the ruling SDL party's annual general meeting in Suva.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has told Radio Legend that more than 4,000 Indo-Fijian families have been displaced because their farm leases were not renewed.

Mr Chaudhry says former farms have reverted to bush, sugar cane production has declined by a third and the sugar industry is under threat because of this.

He says the policy is most irresponsible, because it puts Fiji's economy in grave danger.

Mr Chaudhry says indigenous landowners should be free to lease their land. to whomever they want.