Archive - April 1998

Wed
29
Apr
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ECONOMIC CRISIS MAY FORCE CNMI TO LAY OFF EMPLOYEES

By Benhur C. Saladores

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 23, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)---In the wake of the deepening economic downturn in the Northern Marianas, the local government may be forced to lay-off workers in a drastic effort to trim down the bloated bureaucracy, including its overall spending level, officials said yesterday.

Although Governor Pedro P. Tenorio assured that he will not fire employees, the local chief executive underscored the need to bring down the costs of maintaining a bureaucracy which entails some $190 million in government funds each year to pay for salaries and benefits.

"We are working on it right now and we are trying our best to make our government continue to work," the governor told reporters in an interview.

But Rep. Karl Reyes, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee which reviews government budget and revenues, said he would look into the possibility of cutting back government positions, including full-...

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Wed
29
Apr
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PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR THURSDAY’S BOUGAINVILLE CEASE FIRE

PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY FOR THURSDAY’S BOUGAINVILLE CEASE FIRE

CANBERRA, Australia (April 28, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Preparations are moving forward on Papua New Guinea's Bougainville island for Thursday's signing of a cease fire to end the decade-long secessionist war.

The cease fire agreement, which was agreed to in Canberra several weeks ago, is undergoing a number of last minute alterations, Radio Australia reports.

Organizers are still hoping that the secessionist President, Francis Ona, will change his mind and give his endorsement to the signing.

Officials from all factions, with the possible exception of Ona's, are due to meet Tuesday night on board the Australian navy ship, the HMAS Tobruk.

The Tobruk will be the venue for a leaders’ meeting Wednesday, which is expected to be attended by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Bill Skate, and the secessionist Vice President, Joseph Kabui.

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Wed
29
Apr
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NIUE VISITOR ARRIVALS INCREASE

ALOFI, Niue (April 28, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Latest figures from the Niue government's Statistics Office show a 38 percent first quarter 1998 increase in visitors to the Polynesian country compared to the same quarter last year.

The total number for the 1997 first quarter was 93 compared to 129 this year, Radio Sunshine reports.

The figures exclude travelers visiting friends and relatives.

The largest number of January-March 1998 visitors came from Australia and New Zealand.

Despite a concerted effort to attract visitors from North American and Europe, the numbers are still very low, statistics officials report.

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Wed
29
Apr
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FIJI OFFICIAL OPENS FORUM INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MEETING

SUVA, Fiji (April 28, 1998 - PIDP/CPIS/Hulsen)---Expanding the use of computers, e-mail and the Internet is critical to Pacific Islands development said Viliame Cavubati, Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Communications, Works and Energy, Tuesday while opening a three-day meeting on informational technology at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.

"The impact of informational technology already is quite substantial," he said, "and only will increase in the future."

Although new technology brings new challenges and responsibilities, Cavubati pointed out that it also will make the Pacific Islands nations and territories "less isolated in this shrinking world."

It already "has altered our life," he added, directly connecting the Pacific to the issues and ideas of the rest of the globe.

Security of computer stored and distributed information is a problem, he said, one he encouraged the participating Pacific experts representing the region’s multi-national organizations...

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Wed
29
Apr
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FORUM SECRETARIAT HOSTING MAJOR REGIONAL AVIATION MEETING

SUVA, Fiji (April 27, 1998 - Radio Australia)--- The South Pacific Forum Secretariat is hosting a major regional meeting of aviation ministers and officials in Suva this week.

It is the first Pacific inter-government aviation summit since 1995 and will bring together representatives of airlines, service providers, regulators and governments.

The major issue to be considered is how the Pacific Islands region can best use new aviation communication and navigation technologies to reduce costs and enhance safety.

The meeting also will examine the future of air service access rights in the Pacific.

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Wed
29
Apr
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SOLOMON ISLANDS CONSIDERING HIGHLANDS FARMING

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The Solomon Islands is considering introducing food and cash crop farming in the country's highlands.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr. Steven Aumanu says experts at the Dodo Creek Agriculture Research Station on North Guadalcanal now are in the process of identifying suitable crops that could be cultivated by highlands residents.

A delegation of farmers and agricultural experts also will participate in a study tour of neighboring Papua New Guinea’s highlands region, he added, to learn more about specialized highlands farming there.

He made the comments while answering questions in Parliament regarding the establishment of an agricultural research center in the northwest Malaita highlands.

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Wed
29
Apr
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CONTRACEPTIVE USE SURVEY UNDER WAY IN FIVE PACIFIC NATIONS

APIA, Samoa (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---A health survey focusing on attitudes about contraceptive use currently is being conducted in five Pacific Islands region nations.

Included in the survey are Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands, Radio 2AP reports.

In Samoa, the four-week survey, which now is under way on the main island of Upolu, is giving particular attention to determining the role of men in family planning decisions.

The survey, jointly conducted by the Samoa Family Health Association and the University of the South Pacific, also is examining why teenage pregnancies are increasing, which officials say is becoming a growing and complex social problem in Samoa.

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Tue
28
Apr
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AT LEAST EIGHT KILLED BY FRENCH POLYNESIA CYCLONE

TAHITI, French Polynesia (April 27, 1998 - Radio Australia)---An emergency relief operation is continuing in French Polynesia, where landslides caused by Cyclone Alan have killed at least eight people on the islands of Taha’a and Raiatea.

After threatening the Cook Islands, the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression, but it then turned southeast, intensified, and hit the Society Islands with high winds, heavy rain and killer landslides.

Several people are reported missing on both islands and at least ten people have been injured.

Telephone and power links are cut and there is serious flooding.

Evacuations were necessary on Maupiti.

A 60-member relief team has been sent to the affected islands from Papeete to assist with emergency operations.

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Tue
28
Apr
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MARSHALL ISLANDS AND FSM FACE INCREASED UNEMPLOYMENT

MELBOURNE, Australia (April 22, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---A new study has found that the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia will face increased unemployment, more government layoffs and increased migration when the current U.S. level of funding, under 15-year Compacts of Free Association, end in the year 2001.

The study says that neither nation has the resource base to replace U.S. aid, Radio Australia reports.

It also warned that even if the U.S. agrees to extend financial aid, it is certain to be less than the current level.

The study suggests that development projects will not make up for the loss of funding, meaning continued cuts in working hours and layoffs of government workers.

The sale of fishing licenses to Japanese and other fishing nations, it says, will continue to produce some income, but hopes for a tourism boom will not be realized.

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Tue
28
Apr
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TONGA’S PILOT PEARL FARMING PROJECT BEGINS

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---A Japanese pearl farming company has begun a pilot project in Tonga to determine the viability of producing black-lip oyster pearls in the Polynesian kingdom.

Secretary for Fisheries, 'Akau'ola, says the government is optimistic about the project undertaken by Japan’s Tahiti Shinju Company.

A successful result, ‘Akau’ola says, could lead to the establishment of Tongan pearl farming activities on the capital island of Tongatapu and in the Vava'u and Ha'apai island groups, Radio Tonga reports.

Meanwhile, Tonga's Ministry of Fisheries has embarked on another trial pearl project in Vava’u, using winged oysters, which already has shown some positive results.

A recent joint review of Tonga’s fisheries sector by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and Australia’s AusAID suggests that pearl farming is the country’s most promising aquaculture development opportunity.

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