30 Jul 2008

Ousted Fiji PM disputes claim that coup saved economy from collapse

1:54 pm on 30 July 2008

Fiji's ousted prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has disputed a claim by the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, that the 2006 coup saved the Fiji economy from collapse.

Mr Chaudhry convened a news conference yesterday to give his assessment of the economy amid his disagreements with other cabinet members over tax issues.

He says with foreign reserves standing at nearly 600 million US dollars, Fiji is looking on track to economic recovery with growth exceeding the 1.8 percent forecast for this year.

But Mr Qarase says Reserve Bank of Fiji figures show a 4.4 percent decline in 2007, which means any projected growth for this year wouldn't take the economy back to where it was in 2006.

He says Mr Chaudhry continues to mislead the public and he doubts these latest statements will boost confidence, :

"The business community is very unhappy with his performance, the professionals are in Fiji very unhappy, the ordinary people here are very unhappy so I really don't know how he is going to convince the people because he says one thing and the reality on the ground is completely different."

Mr Qarase says many industry sectors are still struggling, while the economy was booming and showing growth under the SDL government .