I agree with the points raised by John. The politics of Fiji is complex and
reactionary, but basically the show has been run by the Fijian chiefs who
have relied on Indian cane farmers to do the hard work and pay the land
rents that supports their comfortable life style. The theory is that the
rents go to the land-owning clans, but in practice the chiefs look after
themselves, leaving the rural villagers living in poverty.
This came to a head in the early 1980s when the ordinary Fijians supported
the largely Indian led Labour Party and a reformist government came into
power. The chiefs didn't think much of this situation and the result was two
military coups that resulted in the professionals and skilled people fleeing
the country in large numbers. One consequence has been a lack of competent
managers to keep the sugar industry going. The current military-led
government has a few rough edges, including muzzling the media, but it is
basically doing a reasonable job in trying to restore the economy. That
means giving Indo-Fijians a fair go through reviving the sugar industry.
There has been a lot of money (particularly aid funds) wasted in Fiji over
the years promoting alternative crops to sugar but, apart from a few small
horticultural enterprises, there are few viable options on the horizon.
From: LRRSA@... [mailto:LRRSA@...] On Behalf
Of John Browning
Sent: Friday, 23 September 2011 7:31 PM
Subject: RE: [LRRSA] Plans to revitalise Fiji's railway system
I think that there are a few positive indicators.
The government controls the media and it is projecting positive expectations
for rail, not softening opinion up with a view to abandonment, which it was
doing a couple of years ago. The roads are bad from the tourist perspective
and I think it is realised that this is a serious problem that would be made
much worse if all cane was on the road. You will note that efforts to get
more road tax out of cane transport vehicles has not been successful.
I also have information to suggest that money is still filtering through to
Sydney and another loco is pretty much ready to go from Ontrak.
While I am no admirer of the current government, it does seem set to break
the political impasse over the financial arrangements for the cane industry
which has meant creeping paralysis ever since independence.
I'm not sure better paying crops John would suggest the farmers should grow.
PO Box 99
Phone +61 (0)7 3255 9084
Mobile 0407 069 199
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]