THE TOURISTS ARE BACK IN THE SOLOMONS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 15, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Tourist arrivals at the Solomon Islands Western Province capital Gizo are on the increase.

SIBC's Rolland Gito in Gizo quoted the Western province's tourism officer, Eddie Daga, as saying that in the first week of January 30 tourists, mainly divers, arrived in Gizo.

He said this is a good sign since hardly anyone visited the province during the height of the ethnic conflict back on Guadalcanal, which gave the country a bad image overseas.

Before the conflict, picturesque Gizo was a growing tourism center for Western Province, and was attracting an increasing number of divers.

Both Solomon Airlines and the Solomon Islands tourism industry are now working to rebuild the country's visitor industry following the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended the Guadalcanal conflict.

Solomon Airlines has already restored most of its international and domestic air services.

In other developments:

* There has been no official confirmation of the outcome of talks on the Australian navy ship HMAS Tobruk on a final peace settlement for Marau.

The Marau peace agreement is the only remaining unresolved issue pertaining to the ethnic violence that has haunted the country for the past two years.

* The Central Bank's November Economic Bulletin noted that more than SI$ 20 million (US$ 3,956,000) was collected from all revenue collection sources, an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to the previous month.

The Customs Division collected SI$ 7.5 million (US$ 1,483,500), which was more than SI$ 1.5 million (US$ 296,700) higher than the amount collected in October.

 

SOLOMONS BANK GOVERNOR WORRIES ABOUT GOVERNMENT FINANCES

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 13, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands government is reportedly illegally spending money because both the normal and enhanced ceiling provided under the Central Bank Act for advances have been exceeded.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Rick Hou, confirmed to SIBC News that the enhanced ceiling of SI$ 131 million (US$ 25,911,800), which enabled government to advance money from the bank for six months beginning last August, has been exceeded.

He said continued borrowing and over spending by the government would result in a drop in the value of the Solomon Islands dollar.

It crisis comes as the government tries to meet obligations, expectations and demands following the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended two years of ethnic conflict on the country's main island, Guadalcanal. The conflict, meanwhile, has reduced government revenue collections.

Mr. Hou said ordinary people are likely to suffer from actions that result in a drop in the external reserves.

The country uses external reserves to buy goods from overseas.

He said the situation has not reached a critical stage yet, but if government borrowing continues it will result in an increase in the price of imported goods.

Mr. Hou said the government is still putting pressure on the bank, adding he hopes the borrowings will be reduced in due course.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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