Authorities in Fiji are playing down the loss of over $70 million dollars of aid money from the European Union. Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Surendra Sharma has told RNZI that some of the money can still be salvaged and that interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has told him that he will meet with the EU to try and get some of this aid money.
Coupfourpointfive has researched and found below excerpts of an article written last year, by Fiji Times columnist Kamal Iyer, which is a good backgrounder to the promises made to the European Union by Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, who was then Sugar minister. Chaudhry had told media then, that the sugar industry would continue, with or without aid from the EU and alternative sources of aid would be sought.
Rapists of Democracy - by Kamal Iyer
Under Mr Chaudhry’s stewardship as sugar minister and as custodian of the State’s finances, the nation started plummeting towards the point of no return.
The debilitating sickness in the sugar industry is the most painful example of Mr Chaudhry’s treachery. Three months before the 4th coup, the European Union had allocated a grant of $350 million to rehabilitate the sugar industry on the face of a 36 percent reduction in the price of EU preferential price of sugar over a period of four years from 2006 to 2010. Mr Chaudhry knew too well that any political upheaval, be it a coup or unconstitutional act, would be catastrophic for the cane farmers. Despite this he supported those who raped democracy and continues to sympathise with them through his utterances.
The FLP leader is reported as saying the interim regime should either fulfill the demands of the EU (that is to hold elections by March 2009) or foot the bill of the industry’s reform process. “If funding is not provided and elections are delayed further, the sugar industry would definitely be under threat”, Mr Chaudhry is quoted as saying in The Fiji Times.
On October 4, 2007, Fiji Television’s One National News reported Mr Chaudhry as saying that the restructure of the sugar industry would go ahead with or without funding from the EU.
“We are not going to wait for assistance to come. If it comes fine, if it doesn’t come we have to move on and get it done ourselves”, he said.
On page 38 of his 2008 Budget address delivered on November 23, 2007, Mr Chaudhry, while allocating a paltry sum of $5 million to the sugar industry (the EU would had allocated more than $100 million for 2008), said, “In the event that the funding from the European Union is delayed, government will seek alternative sources”.
Does Mr Chaudhry think that all farmers are fools and do not realise that he too has been a barricade against returning Fiji to democracy and release of the EU funds vital to resuscitate the industry and improve farmers’ livelihood?
Link to full article - http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=108181