EARLY RETIREMENT OFFER COSTS TONGA $10.7 MILLION

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 3) - A total of 815 civil servants retired on Friday, June 30, in a mass redundancy that cost the Tonga government 22 million paanga [US$10.7 million] in a massive cash handout this week.

The number is fewer than the Government had hoped for in its attempt to [trim] Tonga's oversized civil service.

The Secretary for Finance, 'Aisake Eke, said today that the deadline for the government's voluntary redundancy offer was closed on Friday, when the 815 civil servants who had accepted the offer, "also qualify for the 1,500 paanga [US$735] Bonus."

[PIR editor’s note: The payout averages 26,994 paanga (US$13,230) per retiree.]

He said that they were short of the 871 civil servants they forecasted would accept their package. Ninety rejected the offer and 31 did not respond.

Government initially allocated TOP$28 million [US$13.7 million] for its Voluntary Redundancy Program, but 'Aisake said that "as of today a total of TOP$22 million has already been transferred to the Westpac Bank of Tonga".

However, 'Aisake said that Tonga may not witness the sudden injection of TOP$28 million into the Tongan economy until the end of the week, "when you may see some people driving around in new flash cars."

July 4, 2006

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

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