11 May 2010

French high commissioner urges Tahiti to take responsibility for economy

3:14 pm on 11 May 2010

The French high commissioner in Papeete, Adolphe Colrat, has rejected complaints in French Polynesia that Paris should give the territory more money as its economy is in decline, with job losses fuelling fears of a social explosion.

Union leaders and the president say the economic structure is the result of the territory being used by France for its nuclear weapons tests, putting the onus on France to help.

Mr Colrat has told RFO television that French Polynesians need to assume responsibility for the way they run their territory, pointing out that apart from the conversion fund, Paris transfers almost two billion US dollars a year to Tahiti and its islands.

"Let's not believe that there is a hidden treasure, a safe that can be opened which is called the state. But what is the state? It's the national community, it's the totality of citizens in France and its overseas territories, who work, pay taxes and have their usual problems. What is taken from one is being given to another."