16 Jan 2004

Flosse says new autonomy statute will boost French Polynesian economy

8:29 am on 16 January 2004

The president of the French Polynesian government, Gaston Flosse, has welcomed the vote in the French National Assembly which has approved increased autonomy for the territory.

Mr Flosse says the new statute will help help economic development and improve the French Polynesians' daily life.

He says it will allow Papeete to open missions in other countries which will pave the way to new markets for the territory's products and create jobs.

Mr Flosse has dismissed criticism that the new statute concentrates power in his office, saying that the change is symbolic but also wanted by the government.

Opponents say the changes approved by Paris create a quasi monarchy and they denounce that there has been no referendum which is standard procedure under French law.