PNG'S PRIME MINISTER SKATE STEPS DOWN AS TSUNAMI FUND CHAIR

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 1, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Bill Skate, has removed himself as Chairman of the Aitape Tidal Wave Disaster Appeal Fund, to assure donors that their contributions will not be diverted for political ends.

Radio Australia's Sean Dorney reports that Mr. Skate is now the patron of the fund which raised millions of dollars for the 9,000 survivors of the tsunami which killed more than 2,000 people in July.

"The PNG minister responsible for the National Disaster Service, Simon Kaumi, told Parliament every effort was being made to ensure the spending of donations was fully accountable.

"He said Mr. Skate had withdrawn as Chairman and no politician had any control over how the money was being allocated.

"Mr. Skate told the Parliament of the damage the tsunami had done to education infrastructure in the disaster zone."

[SKATE: "A total of five community schools were devastated by the tidal wave. Two-hundred-and-fifteen students and five teachers have been confirmed dead. A total of 53 classrooms and 45 teachers houses have been destroyed."]

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