26 Jul 2006

Fiji government denies Chaudhry claim about canned India sugar deal

3:41 pm on 26 July 2006

The Fiji Prime Minister's Office has denied claims by the general secretary of the National Farmers Union, Mahendra Chaudhry, that the government had cancelled the contract of the Indian Sugar Technical Mission to restructure the ailing industry.

Mr Chaudhry claimed that the mostly state-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation had decided to take on the restructure itself and did not make this public.

But Radio Fiji reports that the chief executive of the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, has rejected Mr Chaudhry's claims.

Mr Kotobalavu says Sugar Technical Mission is an agency of the Indian government which provides assistance at the request of other governments such as Fiji.

He says the agreement between Fiji and the Sugar Technical Mission is still intact and the Fiji Sugar Corporation will implement the reforms recommended by the Indian mission.

The prime minister and minister for sugar industry reform, Laisenia Qarase, who is in his home province of Lau, says he is not aware of Mr Chaudhry's claims and expects to be briefed on his return to Suva tomorrow.