TONGAN GOVERNMENT DENIES CLAIMS OF KING'S PRIVATE FORTUNE

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (January 31, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Tongan government has dismissed claims that the country's monarch, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, 83, has a private fortune amounting to almost US$ 350 million.

The claim comes from independent politician ‘Akilisi Pohiva, a prominent critic of the government.

He says he has a palace letter written to the King making reference to his private overseas accounts. However, the Tongan government says the letter is a fake, was written on blank paper, and is not on official letterhead.

They say it is not an official document and no original version has been found in the palace office.

 

TONGA GOVERNMENT ELECTRICITY WORKERS TO LOSE JOBS

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (January 31, 2002- Radio Australia)---Most of the Tonga Electric Power Board staff will be laid off when a private operator this week takes over supplying electricity to the kingdom.

Radio Tonga reported that about 110 of the existing 129 staff will be offered lay-off benefits worth a total of about a million U.S. dollars.

General Manager Paula Helu said the Tonga Electric Power Board is considering borrowing the money required from the Bank of Tonga, with the Tongan government serving as guarantor.

On Friday, Shoreline Power Limited will initiate a 10-year contract to supply power on Tonga's main islands.

Only about 15 existing employees will remain employed by the Tonga Electric Power Board when the change take place, to regulate the work of the new commercial company.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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