NEW ZEALAND SAYS TONGA MAKES REFORM PROGRESS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (July 3, 1998 - Radio Australia)---New Zealand's High Commissioner to Tonga, Ian Hill, says the Tongan Government is making progress in reforming its economy.

Speaking at a media briefing in Wellington, Mr. Hill said there are signs the Government is heeding calls to improve the climate for private sector development and to reduce its own extensive direct involvement in the economy.

Tonga is a very traditional society, Mr. Hill said, but it appears to be changing under the modernizing influences of education, travel and the spread of a cash economy.

He said the monarchy remains strong in Tonga, despite the growth of a pro-democracy movement. There are few signs of open dissent, Mr. Hill noted, and the pro-democracy movement has not managed to achieve much in the way of actual changes or reforms.

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