SOLOMONS GIVEN ONE MONTH TO SETTLE USP DEBT

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SUVA, Fiji (PINA, Dec. 12)) - The University of the South Pacific Council has agreed to provide the Solomon Islands with an additional month to repay outstanding debts.

It extended the deadline to January 31, the university's information service reported.

Debt from the Solomon Islands has accumulated over the past four years as the country has struggled with ethnic conflict and continuing law and order and economic problems. The debt currently stands at more than F$7 million.

In the event that F$5 million is not paid by the new deadline, the university council said the university would not be able to continue enrolling Solomon Islands students, nor maintain its Solomon Islands Centre.

The university did not graduate Solomon Islands students this year as a result of long-standing unpaid student fees.

University Vice-Chancellor Savenaca Siwatibau described the Solomon Islands students as among the institution's best and most conscientious. He said the university was deeply saddened by the effect the present situation was having on them.

However, he said the debt could not continue to be carried by the university. Siwatibau said he hoped a swift resolution could be achieved.

December 12, 2002

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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