5 Apr 2016

Decentralisation, education priorities for new Kiribati govt

12:46 pm on 5 April 2016

Decentralisation, free education and a lift in copra prices are some of the priorities of the administration of Kiribati's new president Taneti Maamau.

Mr Maamau - the country's fifth president - was sworn in in March, after winning the country's Presidential election with a clear majority of votes.

His presidency is the country's first change in leadership in more than a decade, after the former president Anote Tong, retired after serving the maximum three terms allowed under the constitution.

Mr Maamau said he is excited about the journey ahead but says he is aware the people of Kiribati have high expectations.

"There are numerous challenges - population, urbanisation issues, youth unemployment and the need to develop the infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure needs a lot of upgrading," he said.

"I think the first is the needs by the copra covers to increase the copra price from $1 a kilo to $2 a kilo, and that means breaching the cap to assist those who really need the assistance - more cash in their pockets," Mr Maamau said, adding that his plan to introduce free education would help many families struggling financially.

He also said he wants genuine climate change assistance from regional and international partners.

Throughout his term, Mr Tong worked to highlight the threats posed to Kiribati by rising seal levels on the world stage.

But Mr Maamau said he would be taking what he called a 'more balanced approach' to climate change and seek partners to help with 'on the ground' solutions.

"We will try and maintain that [International Representation] where we are very sure and clear that there will be forthcoming assistance or forthcoming help to develop or to mitigate those climate change issues."

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