28 Jul 2006

Fiji Sugar Corporation denies severing ties with Indian company

3:47 pm on 28 July 2006

The Fiji Sugar Corporation has denied cutting all ties with the Indian government-led team restructuring the ailing sugar industry.

Fiji's labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, claimed the contract with the Sugar Technology Mission from India was cancelled because it had found evidence of widespread corruption within the FSC.

But the corporation's chairman, Charles Walker, denies this, saying its relationship with the mission, and its leader, Jiwan Bhagat, remains intact.

Mr Walker says that the FSC had negotiated with Mr Bhagat in a bid to get him to join the company, but said they had failed to reach an agreement.

He says the Indian government had indicated that Mr Bhagat could not join the company and be part of the mission.

"Our relationship with STM is still intact, our relationship with EXIM bank is still intact. The loan is from the Indian government to the Fijian government, in other words to the FSC guaranteed by the Fiji government. All that is still in place."

Mr Bhagat, who described Mr Chaudhry's claims as unfounded, says the mission is still a key part of the restructuring programme.