19 Apr 2007

Tonga to set up national economic council with strong private sector input

12:54 pm on 19 April 2007

The Tonga government is to establish a non partisan national economic council as the country aims to grow its moribund economy.

Cabinet minister, Paul Karalus, says the decision to establish this body is the most significant decision to come from a three day economic summit in Nuku'Alofa.

He says the council will include eight people from the private sector and four from government, representing a major shift.

"It's recognizing that the most important requirement here, after establishing law and order and getting stability back, the most important requirement is getting the economy back, and most immediate, because this was based on immediacy, it was based on a recognition that all the various measures that we have on the economy have taken quite a serious knock."

The summit also agreed to look at adding value to its agricultural output, to encourage an emphasis on culture in tourism, and to open shops overseas showcasing Tongan produce, with the first one to be in Auckland.