SOLOMONS GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO RENEGOTIATE FOREIGN DEBT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Solomon Islands government will hold talks this week with three international credit organizations to renegotiate millions in outstanding debts.

As Radio Australia correspondent Dorothy Wickham reports from Honiara, Finance Minister Michael Maina says the government desperately needs the support of these organizations in order to implement its planned development budget.

"Minister Maina said, following discussions with officials from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank at the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting recently, that the organizations are sending a delegation to Honiara for meetings this week.

"With the budget session coming up in Parliament Thursday, Maina said it's important the three organizations support the government's development budget, which is going to be heavily dependent on external funding.

"The finance minister said bilateral assistance from traditional donor countries like New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Japan and Taiwan would depend very much on the outcome of the meetings with the three international credit organizations.

"It is understood the Solomon Islands has a debt of about US$ 70-million to settle with the three organizations.

"Dorothy Wickham for Radio Australia in Honiara."

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

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