MARSHALL ISLANDS FINANCE MINISTER KONELIOS WANTS TO INVEST FUNDS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (April 19, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Finance Minister Mike Konelios wants to fully launch the RMI’s government trust fund by investing – rather than spending – most of the windfall in Compact money that becomes available in October.

Speaking at the Nitijela Tuesday morning, Konelios said he wants to see as much as $15 million in U.S. Compact funds invested into the inter-generational trust fund. In October, the RMI’s debt payments, currently about $20 million annually, will end, providing the government with a big financial boost in "untied" Compact funding.

Two requirements for establishing the trust fund are that a minimum of three international organizations or countries need to endorse the trust fund, and regulations for its operation must be passed by the Cabinet, Regulations are now with the Cabinet for review, the Finance Minister said.

Konelios said that he believes the international community is "waiting to see if we’re serious before they contribute."

He said that if the RMI uses Compact funds that become available at the end of 2001 to invest in the fund, it will demonstrate that the RMI is serious about establishing the trust fund.

He believes that the Marshalls can attract large-scale financial support for the trust fund program and that over a 15-year period the fund could grow to $500 million.

At the end of 15 years, the Marshalls would then have the funding necessary to be self-reliant, he said, adding that the trust fund was one of the most important developments for the RMI.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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