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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 5, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The European Union has expressed its total support for the economic reform program being implemented by the Solomon Islands' government.

The government is attempting to repair the country's badly damaged economy. It faces opposition to some of the reform measures, including public service employee lay-offs. But the head of the European Union delegation to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Juan Carlos Rey, says European Union nations fully support the government's plan.

Mr. Rey announced $US 300,000 in funding for the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival, being held in Solomon Islands this week, saying the funding is a further vote of confidence in the government's reform program

"This is a real recognition by the European Union for the new government." Rey said. "Public reform is very hard; sometimes it's necessary to take unpopular measures. But I can say the European Union is giving all its support to the very serious work of the Solomon Islands government."



HONIRA, Solomon Islands (July 6, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The European Union has given a vote of confidence for the Solomon Islands government's economic reform package.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Richard Dinnen reports the tough reform package could cost the government some domestic political support:

"Solomon Islands celebrates the 20th anniversary of its independence this week, but its economy is in such bad shape it can't afford to fund official celebrations in all nine provinces of the country.

"Public servants have gone on strike in a dispute over public service staff cuts, which are part of the reform program.

The head of the EU delegation to the EU and the Solomons’ Juan Carlos Ray says European nations fully support the reform program and stand 100 per cent behind the government.

Mr. Ray has announced about $US 300,000 funding for the first Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival , part of the 20th anniversary celebrations.

The festival opens today (Monday) and Independence Day celebrations will be held tomorrow (Tuesday).

"Richard Dinnen, Honiara."

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