KIRIBATI'S PRESIDENT TITO DEFENDS MILLENNIUM SPENDING

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TARAWA, Kiribati (March 7, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The President of Kiribati, Teburoro Tito, has defended his government's spending on millennium celebrations -- including events on remote Millennium Island -- saying the goal of promoting the country to the world was achieved.

He told a news conference that the government spent more than one million Australian dollars (US$ 605,100) to stage the celebrations.

However, he admitted that the much-publicized financial bonanza from the event had not materialized.

He said the financial windfall from the worldwide exposure would be felt, instead, in the coming years.

The opposition has criticized the government for staging the celebrations, saying the money could have been better spent improving outer island schools and clinics.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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