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Aussie aid to Fiji stay same

FREDERICA ELBOURNE
Thursday, May 15, 2008

WHILE other Pacific Island countries will receive an increase in the value of Australian aid, the sum allocated for Fiji remains unchanged from last year's budget.

The Australian High Commission yesterday revealed that Australian aid to Fiji this year was $37.9million.

It is the same amount from last year.

The high commission said the sum was consistent with the Australian government's policy.

Additional aid to Fiji will be subject to an early return to democratic rule, it said.

Fiji's allocation is less than Pacific island neighbours Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

In another development, the Prime Minister's Office has refuted figures published about the amount of money Fiji has taken from the Chinese government since 2007.

The permanent secretary to the Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand, could not reveal the real figures but said reports that Fiji took more than $250million from China last year were not true.

Research associate at Lowy Institute for International Policy Fergus Hanson said in an opinion column that the amount of grant and loan Fiji had obtained from China last year was more than the total amount of aid China gives to the Pacific as a whole on an annual basis.

"His figures are all wrong. These matters are under discussion.

"We are seeking a soft loan from China for various sectors but the figure is nowhere near what Hanson's report says," Mr Chand said.

He said aid and grant projects were ongoing from previous years and discussions with China were over the need for the interim regime to step up momentum for projects in the pipeline which included the Navuso bridge and the purchase of multi-purpose fisheries vessels.





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