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By Harlyne Joku

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 7, 2000 – The National)---Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has described this year's 25th independence anniversary as very special, with a number of activities and projects planned for the Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Sir Mekere also announced that the government has approved double tax deductions for contributions towards the celebrations and granted exemptions on customs duty and the Value Added Tax for imports and other goods and materials used for the celebrations.

He said the theme for the celebrations is "Walking Together," or "Wokabaut Wantaim" or "Raka Hebou."

He made the announcement in a statement to Parliament yesterday on the preparations for the Silver Jubilee Independence Celebrations.

Sir Mekere said the activities planned would cost about K 1.5 million (US$ 622,502), which includes the national, provincial and silver jubilee flags, and modest funding of our overseas diplomatic missions.

The Cabinet has asked the provincial governments and Members of Parliaments to take the lead in organizing provincial and district level celebrations.

Provinces have been encouraged to establish their own Silver Jubilee committees and plan for their celebrations between September 11 and September 17 and that the National Events Council headed by Peter Barter is ready to advise and assist the provinces with the planning.

Sir Mekere said the National Events Council has written to over 300 companies throughout PNG seeking sponsorship.

He said that while there have been some positive responses, the overall response has been disappointing.

Sir Mekere said the government wants the private sector to be a party to the Silver Jubilee and contribute towards the success of the celebrations.

He said September 15 will be declared a public holiday.

In the national capital, cultural and sporting events are being planned. A State dinner will be held and on September 16, and a flag raising ceremony will take place on Independence Hill where a commemorative plaque will be unveiled.

Sir Mekere further said that on Independence Day, PNG will witness the "Nation on Parade," a parade of the disciplined forces, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, firemen, St John Ambulance, non-government organizations and their agencies. Other activities include presentation of medals, a luncheon, flag lowering and fireworks.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 17, an Ecumenical Church Service at the Sir John Guise stadium will be held. It will be open to all.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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