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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Dec. 23) – Some 70 percent of tourism investments in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia could benefit from tax free status under new incentives, RFO reports.

The announcement was made last week by French Minister For Overseas Territories Brigitte Girardin, who was on a Pacific tour in the French Pacific Territories of New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna.

The new measure is part of a bill currently drafted by Girardin's ministry and regards all French overseas departments and territories.

The text is to be put before the French Parliament early next year.

"This is much higher than the present tax free regime rates," Girardin said, adding she had just obtained an agreement on principle by French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Currently, half of investments made in French overseas territories can be claimed under the existing tax-free regime.

Girardin however said the scope of the sectors concerned remained to be defined, but it was likely that sectors that "did not benefit directly local communities", such as luxury liners registered in French overseas territories for tax-free purposes, could be excluded in future.

"Let's be frank, the current system does not work any more. Investments under this tax-free regime have dropped for the past five years. So we're going to change our frame of mind and every project eligible to tax-free status will received exemptions on a more or less favorable basis".

December 23, 2002

Oceania Flash/SPC

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