DEVALUATION TRIGGERS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN SOLOMONS GOVERNMENT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 27, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Solomon Islands opposition has decided to bring a motion of no confidence against the government led by Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza.

The move is the most serious political test the government has faced since its election last December.

Radio Australia correspondent Dorothy Wickham reports from Parliament that the trigger is the snap devaluation of the Solomons dollar, which was cut 25 percent in the budget handed down yesterday.

"The coalition government of Sir Allan Kemakeza is facing a motion of no confidence by the national opposition.

"Office of the Clerk to Parliament confirmed that notice was handed in by opposition leader Patterson Oti today.

"The coalition has a majority of 29 MPs in the 50 seat Parliament. However, the sudden announcement by Finance Minister Michael Maina yesterday that the Solomon Islands dollar is being devalued by 25percent has rocked the coalition, leaving many feeling betrayed.

"Deputy Prime Minister Snyder Rini said that no one in the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, was told about the devaluation.

"Urgent meetings were held late into the night yesterday in an attempt by the coalition leadership to smooth ruffled feathers among its members.

"The motion of no confidence comes at a time when the government is trying to pass its 2002 budget, which has only reached its second reading in Parliament.

"The Easter break will see a lot of political lobbying as the opposition tries to ascertain its support for the motion.

"Dorothy Wickham, Radio Australia News, Honiara."

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

 

SOLOMONS DOLLAR DEVALUED BY 25%

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 27, 2002 - SIBC/PINA Nius Online)--The Solomon Islands dollar was devalued 25 percent yesterday.

Minister of Finance Michael Maina announced the move in Parliament during his budget speech.

Mr. Maina said it was critical that the government take decisive action now on the exchange rate to halt the continuing decline in the country's external reserves.

He said the country was losing Sol$ 12 million a month in external payments and reserves were low. The country may have an external reserves crisis sooner rather than later, he said.

The financial crisis comes as major industries remained closed or not operating fully following two years of ethnic conflict. There are continuing law and order problems despite a peace agreement.

Mr. Maina said the country needs to make difficult decisions and take more decisive action on the exchange rate than what has been done so far.

He said although the actions taken so far have been partially successful, they are not sustainable. Or do they address the country's underlying problems, he said.

The government proposes to spend Sol$ 250 million in 2002.

Mr Maina said this will correspond with the maximum expected revenue of Sol$ 250 million collectable from existing and new tax bases.

He said that expenditure estimates for this year will be achieved through:

Mr. Maina said to meet the Sol$ 250 million expenditure it plans revenue collection of:

Meanwhile, the development funds estimate is Sol$ 295.7 million, financed by development partners.

In other developments:

**Mr. Maina said the government is still awaiting funds it had sought from the European Union to enable the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education to initiate its planned 2002 programs.

He said efforts have been made to have development partners support the college. A work program has been submitted to the European Union and the government is still awaiting its outcome, he said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Mathias Taro said the ministry was not aware of reports that some college vehicles were seized by landlords who have not been paid rent.

**The British High Commission in Honiara will today hand over Sol$ 40,000 to the High Court of Solomon Islands.

The money will help the High Court set up a recording facility to enable court proceedings to be recorded rather than judges having to take handwritten notes.

** Premier Reuben Lilo, of Western Province, was ousted from office in a motion of no confidence, 14 votes to 11, in the provincial capital of Gizo.

The mover of the motion, Thornley Hite, Member of Parliament for South Ranonga accused Mr. Lilo of incompetence and failing to handle sensitive issues.

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 

 

TAIWAN GIVES SOLOMON ISLANDS $3.8 MILLION FOR EDUCATION

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 27, 2002 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation)---The Republic of China (Taiwan) today gave $3.8 million to the Solomon Islands’ in support of balance of payments.

The award followed a request from Minister of Finance Michael Maina.

This latest ROC financial assistance is mainly for financing regional training awards.

The assistance is part of a US$ 1 million package, which ROC had pledged towards financing government education programs.

The second tranche of the package will be made available early next month.

Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza expressed appreciation for the timely assistance and said the immediate response from the ROC is a positive indication on the part of the international donor community towards the government's commitment to adopt and execute a credible 2002 budget.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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