FRANCE TO SUBSIDIZE TAHITI ECONOMY WITH $22 MILLION

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Recent trip to Paris paid off

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Feb. 6, 2009) – French govt. approves use of $22m to improve Tahiti's employment situation

The French government gave its approval Friday to Tahiti's president using two billion French Pacific francs (US$21.7m/16.8m euros) from the annual economic development subsidy to help improve Tahiti's employment situation.

The approval came from French Overseas State Secretary Yves Jégo during a luncheon meeting with French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru and two of his cabinet members-- Economy and Finance Minister Georges Puchon and Environmental Resources Minister Teva Rohfritsch.

This was Temaru's second day of meetings with French government officials. On Thursday, he and officials from all of France's overseas departments and territories held a roundtable discussion chaired by French Prime Minister François Fillon.

One of the subjects on everyone's minds these days is the impact of the global financial crisis around the world. Another key subject is the social unrest that has occurred in the French departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the West Indies.

Jégo confirmed Friday that the "Caribbean crisis perhaps led to the opening of a new round of relations (between France) and overseas".

That may also explain the apparent cordial relations between Temaru and Jégo as they came out of their one-hour luncheon meeting after having discussed short and long-term projects.

The use of the two billion French Pacific francs to help improve Tahiti's employment situation amidst increasing effects from the global financial crisis was an immediate measure. This will be an exceptional use of part of the overall subsidy that France has provided Tahiti with since 1996 as compensation for the economic benefits Tahiti received during the 30-year French nuclear testing period from 1966-1996.

A more long-term approach will involve a summit meeting of sorts dealing with French overseas communities during which the future of French Polynesia will be discussed. The meeting, with no subjects banned from the discussed, is expected to begin sometime in April, according to Jégo.

Meanwhile, the overseas state secretary announced Friday that he plans to "soon" defend tax exemption dossiers involving the construction of two hotels in French Polynesia. He did not identify the hotels or the islands where they are to be built.

The French Polynesia government has requested the tax exemption status for the projects, which will be examined by the French Economy Ministry.

Jégo said he plans to visit Tahiti in May to wrap up a dossier dealing with the reorganization of financial relations between France and French Polynesia. This dossier deals in particular with the income and resources for French Polynesia's 48 communes.

Jégo's visit will also allow him to get an idea of how the Temaru government is positioning itself with regards to the summit meeting dealing with French overseas communities.

Meanwhile, President Temaru is still awaiting word from Prime Minister Fillon about when they are to meet. Temaru has indicated he plans on remaining in Paris until he gets his meeting. Temaru and his two ministers left Tahiti Tuesday night, the day after receiving Fillon's invitation to attend the roundtable discussion held Thursday.

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