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TARAWA, Kiribati (April 30, 2001 - Radio Kiribati/PINA Nius Online)---The Kiribati Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism is working on a plan to set up a new government company, the Kiribati Copra Mill Company Limited.

The Commerce and Industry Division’s Martin Tofinga confirmed to Radio Kiribati that the Cabinet has fully endorsed the establishment of the new facility, with funding of AUD$ 4 million (US$ 2,036,400) from government resources.

He said the project will result in the construction of a new copra mill processing plant at the old port area in Betio.

It will be equipped with the machinery required to process dried copra into refined oil, cooking oil, laundry bar soap and powder soap, while the by-product -- copra cake -- could be used for animal feed.

Mr. Tofinga said the factory’s products are targeted for overseas export but also can be substitutes for imports to the local market.

He said the new company will buy copra from the Kiribati Copra Cooperative Society in Betio, which buys copra from local copra cutters on the outer islands.

He also said Australian-based Techso Pty. Ltd. in Brisbane is contracted to assist the new company in developing its operations.

Mr. Tofinga emphasized that the project is in line with the government’s policy for a better living standard for the I-Kiribati people.

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