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Australia & NZ Pressured ADB, Says Fiji's Chaudhry

ADB understand pressure not to deal with Fiji

Fiji's neighbours Australia and New Zealand had exerted pressure on the Asian Development Bank to withdraw relations with Fiji, Finance Minister Mr Mahendra Chaudhry revealed last week.

"I was told the Bank had been pressurised by Australia and New Zealand into adopting its current stance. These are our neighbours, they pretend to be wanting to help us but are effectively undermining our economy," Mr Chaudhry said.

Mr Chaudhry said he was surprised at the political stance taken by the ADB in refusing to have dealings with Fiji after the December 2006 takeover and he had raised this issue in his discussions with Bank executives in Madrid last month.

"Fiji has had three coups before the 2006 takevoer. The ADB did not curtail engagement with Fiji in any way after those three coups. I was therefore surprised that it took a political stance this time around."

Mr Chaudhry raised the issue of the Bank's re-engagement with Fiji in his meeting with ADB's President Haruhiko Kuroda.

The Bank, under its charter, is a development bank, the resources of which should be made available to member countries for development.

Fiji has chartered a roadmap for return to democracy and we have satisfied the criteria for full engagement with the bank. The Government in Fiji is in full effective control, the law and order situation is satisfactory.

"I pointed out that in countries where coups had taken place like Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan the bank remained engaged with them so why was Fiji being isolated?

"Was it because we are small and can be pushed into a corner? Why these double standards?

"I made it clear that in the last three coups Fiji had never defaulted on its loan repayments despite its political problems. We had always met our loan obligations by paying on time.

"I told the Bank that it must abandon such a political stance and engage with Fiji," Mr Chaudhry said.

ADB's board meets in June. The President of the bank undertook to personally take the views expressed by me to the board of the bank and to assist Fiji.

"So we will now wait and see," Mr Chaudhry said.


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