PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S COPRA INDUSTRY FACES UPHEAVAL

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By Sean Dorney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 23, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Copra growers throughout Papua New Guinea are upset with the PNG Copra Marketing Board.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that more than 100,000 households in PNG earn cash from selling copra to the Board, but the banks have stopped payment on the agency's checks.

"It's the second time in a month that the Copra Marketing Board's banker, the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation, has refused to let the Board exceed its overdraft limit.

"For more than a year the Growers Association has been questioning how the Board and its management have been spending copra growers' money; accusing both of extravagance.

"The management claims the current problems are the fault of PNG's largest in-country processor, Coconut Products Limited of Rabaul, which it claims is behind in its payments for deliveries. But the company says it has been paying as usual.

"The PNG Rural Industries Council has called for an investigation.

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