13 Jun 2013

Tonga needs to make more of export potential - former finance minister

4:48 am on 13 June 2013

A former Tonga finance minister, Sunia Fili, who is now with the opposition, says the country has got to make more of its export potential to try and turn the economy around.

Tonga's economy is stagnant, with predictions of growth of half of one percent this year.

The government's budget, which goes to the legislature in the new session starting today, is five percent bigger than last year and strongly dependent on overseas aid.

Finance minister Lisiate 'Akolo is putting in money to try and stimulate the private sector but Mr Fili says the government must do more.

"I see this budget here, they do not give any direct funds to help the fisheries increase the export of fish. Always this. So the cry to marketing our produce, agricultural produce, does not work."

Sunia Fili.