SOLOMONS OFFICIAL DEFENDS $350 MILLION DEAL

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Radio Australia, Jan. 22) – A senior Solomon Islands government official has defended the government's decision to accept a $US350 million offer from a group that has no money in any recognized bank.

Sir George Lepping says the Solomons have been let down by traditional donors, with not even half the money needed to finance the country's development budget for 2003 secured.

The Solomon Islands government signed a deal with a group calling itself the Royal Association of Nations and Kingdoms for the offer in late December.

Sir George says the association has 30 working days from that date to deliver the grant.

The Solomon Islands Central Bank rejected the first attempt by the group to transact the deal because "no bank" was written on the check in the section specifying where the money will be transferred.

January 22, 2003

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

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