23 Sep 2008

New Zealand government reduces cost of remittances to Pacific Island countries

10:20 am on 23 September 2008

New Zealand's Westpac bank expects to offer cards making it cheaper to send money to the Pacific Islands before Christmas.

The country's cabinet approved a new regulation making it cheaper to send money between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Islanders until now paid charges of up to 25 percent of the amount they were sending home, but the new regulation will bring that down to between five and seven percent.

The bank's spokesperson, Craig Dowling, says it's been working on a solution for a year.

"The ability to send smaller amounts of money more often at a cost to the sender that's not seen as extravagant. We've been part of it in working with the government. It's good to see an outcome with a solution that we can have in place before Christmas."

Craig Dowling says Pacific Islanders will be able to load funds on a special card, while their families in the Islands will be able to withdraw the funds at their local ATM machine.

New Zealand's opposition National Party says the government should have made the changes long ago.