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‘Meeting of minds strengthens accountability

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 8, 2008) – Senior New Zealand Government Minister Phil Goff says his talks with the Premier of Niue Toke Talagi have looked at creating some flexibilty around Niue’s budgetary arrangements.

The two have had dicussions in Wellington over the past three days, as part of bilateral officials meetings which focussed on forging an agreement on how aid to Niue can be better spent.

The talks follow recent criticism from Mr Talagi about what he has called the undemocratic approach taken by New Zealand aid officials.

However Mr Goff says New Zealand has been open to the Premier’s request for more flexibility and timeliness in being able to make decisions on how to use the aid money and spend it.

"So I think we had a meeting of the minds, both between the Premier and myself and between our officials, about a way in which we can proceed for the future which will streamline our funding processes but will maintain and if anything may strengthen the accountabilty mechanisms that need to be in place so that the New Zealand taxpayer can be confident that money has been well spent."

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