30 Nov 2010

Lease issue follows Fiji Water row

4:03 pm on 30 November 2010

The US company Fiji Water is now being asked to surrender the lease it has for the land and underground supply, if it is to no longer operate in the country.

The company closed the plant yesterday and laid off 400 staff after last week's budget increased taxes to 15 Fiji cents per litre from the current rate of a third of a cent per litre.

The interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says once leases are relinquished, the government will then call for international tenders to extract this valuable resource.

But the Assistant Secretary General of the Sugar and General Workers Union, Mika Mataka, says it's a matter for the local landowners to decide:

"But the lease, that will decide from the landowner, it's not for government, the landowner will decide who they give their land to, it's not for government to dictate, because Fiji Water has been in agreement with the landowners and the landowners have benefitted from it and they are in a cordial relationship. So what is government trying to do?"

Mr Mataka says he believes there has been pressure from other water companies which have not been able to compete with Fiji Water