HAPPY DAYS AHEAD IN GIZO, OTHER SOLOMON ISLANDS NEWS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 5, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Forget the Solomon Islands’ problems and the two years of ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal. They're getting ready to celebrate in Gizo, Western Province.

Seven yachts are taking part in the 5th Brisbane, Australia, to Gizo, Solomon Islands, race in a boost to the tourism industry.

An organizer, Rob Kothe, reports that the classic yacht race over a distance of 1,178 miles, up into the warm Coral Sea, takes between five and eight days. The first yacht is expected in Gizo Thursday.

Mr. Kothe says the end of the Brisbane to Gizo race marks the start of Vaka Tepe week, an important provincial event, with canoes coming to Gizo from many outlying islands.

Gizo schoolchildren have a holiday for the race’s prize giving day.

After the yachts have arrived, there will a sail past of the fleet, with schoolchildren aboard.

It's expected that most of the competing boats will spend some time cruising around the Solomon Islands before sailing north toward Papua New Guinea or back to Australia.

In other Solomon Islands developments:

* The government needs to limit its borrowing within two percent of its Gross Domestic Product, GDP, an International Monetary Fund team, which recently visited the country, recommended.

The 2001 Peace Budget is about one-point-one billion dollars. The government, however, has planned to borrow 480 million dollars, 20 times more than the two percent of the Solomon Islands estimated GDP for this year.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, chaired by opposition leader Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, had also stressed that the government borrow within its means.

The committee said the government could optimize revenue collection by, among other things, revoking all duty remissions and tax exemptions. The government, from July last year to March this year, had granted about 28 million dollars in duty remissions to various companies and individuals.

* Work towards the adoption of a state government for Guadalcanal Province is under way. The province's Deputy Premier, Siriako Usa, in a statement, confirmed that the province had already engaged a number of people to coordinate programs that will form the basis for the State of Guadalcanal.

Mr. Usa said the views of the people of the province will be sought before the drafting of the state government constitution.

Mr. Usa was replying to criticisms leveled against the provincial government for its delay in drafting its constitution.

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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