Tongan games head says economy can cope with hosting

Lord Sevele says he will not resign as Chairman of the 2019 Pacific Games Committee

NUKU’ALOFA-May 16: 12:41pm(RNZI): The head of Tonga’s Pacific Games Organising Committee says the economy can handle hosting the 2019 event and he doesn’t understand why the government wants to pull out.

At a cabinet meeting on Friday the decision was made to withdraw from hosting because of a World Bank report looking at its economical impact.

Lord Sevele said last week the prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva met with his committee and brought the report.

But Lord Sevele said there is evidence Tonga can host the games successfully.

He cited an International Monetary Fund statement which said economic activity is expanding and likely to remain relatively strong with growth projected at a rate between 3 and 4 percent, boosted by construction and activities related to the Pacific Games.

“On the recent reports from the IMF late in March of this year, they are painting a very rosy picture of the Tongan economy,” Lord Sevele said.

“The one that the prime minister brought to our meeting last week was one dated 2013. It’s out of date.”

Lord Sevele said the 2019 event would not pose too heavy a burden on the government.

He said the government would only need to come up with around $US13m in total.

“The funds that will be spent on hosting the games and the facilities, much of that has been promised from overseas, and also a fair amount will come from the private sector here by way of sponsorships.”

Lord Sevele said the two finance ministers, (‘Aisake Eke and Tevita Lavemaau), under the Pohiva government both publicly stated in parliament that they were firmly in support of the games and the economy was good and the stability of government finances was strong.

Lord Sevele said hosting the games would benefit the youth, the sports community and all of Tonga, the majority of whom are behind the games.

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