NEW ZEALAND TO PHASE OUT AID TO NIUE BY 2003

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ALOFI, Niue (April 27, 1999 - PACNEWS)---New Zealand has announced that it intends to phase out its aid to Niue, a nation with a population of about 1,700 permanent residents, by the Year 2003.

The warning has prompted Niue’s newly-elected Premier, Sani Lakatani, to travel to Manila in search of alternative finances for his New Zealand-affiliated country.

Premier Lakatani will attend a meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), where he plans to seek membership in the organization and establish contacts.

A Government official said Niue expects to receive low interest loans from the ADB, if New Zealand follows through on its aid phase-out plans.

New Zealand has been reducing aid to Niue by a quarter of a million dollars a year for the last five years.

More Niueans live and work in New Zealand than live in the island nation itself.

The Government, under Premier Lakatani, has adopted new policies to encourage Niueans who live in New Zealand and Australia to return to the island to resume permanent residency.

DOUBTS RAISED OVER WHETHER NEW ZEALAND CAN CUT AID TO NIUE

ALOFI, Niue (April 27, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Doubts have been raised over whether New Zealand has the constitutional right to phase out its aid to Niue.

New Zealand has told Niue it intends to phase out its aid by the Year 2003, a threat which has prompted Niue's Premier, Sani Lakatani, to seek development funds from the Asian Development Bank.

The Editor of the Niue Economic Review, Stafford Guest, says he doubts that New Zealand will be able to cut its aid program to Niue.

"One wonders sometimes whether that's a bluff or not, because New Zealand is constitutionally bound to Niue through a constitution act of 1974," Guest said, "and that act clearly states that New Zealand has to provide on-going financial aid and assistance and administrative assistance to Niue -- so it will be interesting to see what develops from that."

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