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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 20) – The Solomon Island’s tuna industry has received a $70 million (US$9.5 million) grant from the Japanese government that will buy new vessels and fishing equipment.

The aid, which is earmarked Soltai Fishing and Processing Ltd., will start in February next year.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement last week, team leader Norihiro Ikeda said the Japanese governmentn hopes to see the company become profitable.

"We believe that this project will make Soltai a strong and profitable company, not only in Solomon Islands but also in the Pacific region, contributing to the development of economies of Solomon Islands as well as deepening the friendship between the people of Japan and people of Solomon Islands," Mr Ikeda said.

He said the grant aid is one way of revitalizing the Solomon Islands’ economy.

Under the grant, Soltai Fishing and Processing Limited (SFPL), a joint venture between the Solomon Islands government through its business arm, the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands (ICSI), and the Western Provincial Government will receive two Japanese built pole and line fishing vessels, four bait boats, two bait boat engine kits and other fishing equipment.

The signing ceremony last Friday was witnessed by the Charge’d Affairs of Japan Katshuhiko Kubo, the Minister of Fisheries Department, Hon Paul Maenu’u and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Laurie Chan.

December 21, 2004

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