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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (July 28, 1999 - PACNEWS)---All five members of the five-month-old Board of Directors of the Ports Authority, including Chairman Uhila Liava‘a, have resigned.

Liava‘a said the board members’ resignations were submitted last week and became effective July 23.

According to Liava‘a, the resignations have been accepted and they are waiting for and official response from the Government.

The other former board members are Deputy Chairman Kelepi Makakaufaki and Directors Lisiate ‘Akolo, Peni Vea and Semi Vete.

Their resignations come in the wake of several accusations leveled against the board from top Government officials, but those allegations have not been made public and the Chairman did not specify whether or not the board members were forced to resign.

‘Uhila claims they have achieved most of the commitments required of them under the new Ports of Authority Act and he strongly believes there are other people in Tonga who are able to carry on from where they have left off.

‘Uhila said the new board has two outstanding tasks ahead of it. They are securing the rights to all surrounding land area allocated to the Ports Authority and determining what facilities and other assets are needed.

The Ports Authority paid 26,000 thousand pa‘anga (US$ 16, 360) in dividends to the government, with an additional 9,000 thousand pa‘anga (US$ 5, 666) in income tax, boosting the Ports Authority’s net profit of about 50,000 pa‘anga (US$ 31, 470) during operations from February to June 1999.

Port Authority General Manager Tu‘itupou Fotu said the resignation of the governing board members does not and will not affect the authority’s operations.

Radio Tonga has learned that the Tongan Government will soon announce the names of its new appointees to the Ports Authority Board of Directors.

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