Tonga opposition against news palace plan
Tonga's Opposition raises concerns about governmentplans for a new palace and office space.
Tonga's opposition leader is taking issue with the government signing agreements with China to build a new palace and government offices in Nuku'alofa.
Radio Tonga reports the Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, is in China to finalise the deal.
But Akilisi Pohiva says a new palace is not needed while there is plenty of office space still available in the capital after the Chinese financed rebuild of the city centre.
AKILISI POHIVA: I think the Government should have tried to fill up all these rooms before they move on to build another house. The other issue for me, and that is the misuse of aid from China. however this decision to put up a house was made entirely by the Government - they should have put it through to Parliament for approval, but they didn't do it.
DON WISEMAN: Has there been any discussion at all in Parliament about this?
AP: No, as I said it was the Government who put up proposal and they approved it without putting it through to Parliament for discussion.
DW: Does Tonga need a new palace?
AP: No there is no need for a new palace. Like the palace now - there is no one using the existing palace. His Majesty is living in a different home. I don't see any reason why Government should put up another palace.
DW: I guess it is likely that this deal with China is likely to go ahead but still hanging over Tonga is this problem to do with the controversial loan to rebuild Nuku'alofa, and the repayments of that. The Government has previously indicated, or the previous Finance Minister had said they hoped to have that loan turned into a grant but there has been no progress made there. China has deferred the payments but no progress there, so what happens from this point with that?
AP: Yes that has been a controversial issue under discussion, not only in not only in Parliament but in other parts of Tonga. The big loan from China and the Tonga government has been trying to get that loan written off. But the People's Republic of China refused to do it so they deferred the payment for another 20 years. So there is no reason for the Government to put up that project [ the new palace] while the loans from China are still out there and the future of that loan is very uncertain and I don't see any opportunity for the Tonga Government to repay any time in the next 20 years or so.
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