TONGA TO GET $12 MILLION FROM EUROPEAN UNION

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Grant to cover budget shortfall, electrical upgrade

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 6, 2010) - The European Union has agreed to provide a grant worth 24 million pa’anga [US$12.2 million] to support Tonga's budget and improve its electricity distribution network to rural areas.

Tonga's Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Feleti Sevele met with the European Commissioner for Development, Mr. Andris Piebalgs, and senior officials at the EU Headquarters on April 28-29.

The Grant consists of 5.5 million euros (16.5 million pa’anga [US$8.3 million]) for budgetary support, in response to an application made by the Government of Tonga.

In addition it also agreed to provide 2.5 million euros (7.5 million pa’anga [US$3.8 million]) towards improvement of the electricity distribution network to the rural areas, the first application under Tonga's Energy Facility II.

Prime Minister Sevele also visited the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Headquarter and met with Secretary-General, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

In a statement from ACP, Dr. Chambas said it was great honor to meet the Tongan PM during his visit to Europe, as he is amongst the first ACP leaders to visit him since he took office in March earlier this year.

He was accompanied by the Tonga High Commissioner to London and the EU, His Excellency Sione Ngongo Kioa, and Robert Solomon, the PM's Economic Advisor.

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