7 Aug 2002

Solomon Islands currency conversion may be some way off

11:24 am on 7 August 2002

The Solomon Islands finance ministry says it may be some time before the government is able to switch the country's currency to the Australian dollar.

The ministry's permanent secretary, Lloyd Powell, says the cost of such a conversion is high.

"The reality is that if the minister of finance had the finance to do it - and at our best estimates it would cost us 100 million Australian dollars to do it - I'm confident it would happen fairly rapidly. The fact is we don't have the money at this points in time but the minister feels it is important to signal that this is the logical thing to do in the interest of this country and to turn the economy around."

Mr Powell says the finance minister, Laurie Chan, will put the proposal to the team from the International Monetary Fund which arrives in Honiara later this month.

He says it's one of a number of government strategies to reform the economy that will be presented to the IMF.

Mr Powell says if the plans win IMF approval, aid donors are likely to be more supportive.