TONGA DISMANTLES GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISE BOARDS

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 7) - Tonga Privy Council on September 1 dismantled most of the boards running government-owned enterprises and utilities, the Minister of Finance, Honorable Siosiua 'Utoikamanu told the Tongan parliament this week.

He said that all boards, except for two, had been dismantled, and he would be presenting a proposal for some new chairmen to the Cabinet this week.

The Minister did not name the boards and their members that have gone but the two remaining boards appear to be those of the Tonga Development Bank and the National Reserve Bank of Tonga.

The Minister was responding to a query from the Ha'apai No. 1 People's Representative, 'Uliti Uata, while the House was debating the Ministry of Finance's annual report on Monday September 4.

'Uliti reminded the Minister that the annual reports from Boards managing government enterprises should be presented to the House annually, in order for members to keep track of government investments in some of these enterprises.

The Minister said that it had been a longstanding problem that some of these boards, even though they had some Cabinet Ministers as members, failed to submit annual reports to the Ministry of Finance. As an example, he said that the last annual report that he had received from the Tonga Electric Power Board was in 2001. He said he had been thinking of how to penalize some of these boards, and then last Friday, the Privy Council approved the dismantling of all boards, excepting for two. He said that he was presenting a proposal for new chairman of some of these boards to the Cabinet this week. The Minister did not name the two boards that were still standing.

Meanwhile, several of the managers of the Government's Statutory Bodies when asked were unwilling to identify the names of their board members or indeed whether they still had a board.

There are probably 14 statutory boards in Tonga, including the:

While the House debated the annual report of the Ministry of Finance, the Tongatapu No. 1 People's Representative, 'Akilisi Pohiva wanted to know if there had been a financial report from TongaSat, the company responsible for marketing Tonga's orbital slots. The Minister's crisp reply was that he had not received any financial report from TongaSat since 2000.

'Akilisi also claimed that the Internet address dot .to is a property of the government. The Minister of Finance reminded the member that the House passed legislation during 2000 or 1999 which made it possible for an agreement between government and the Tongan Internet Corporation to market the dot.to. The Minister also reminded the House that government's agreement with the Tongan Internet Corporation expired in either 2002 or 2003.

Tonga's Internet domain names are sold by Tonic (Tongan Network Information Center), a company in which the Crown Prince Tupouto'a is a partner, which was to split the domain name profits with the Tonga government.

September 8, 2006

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

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