19 Jul 2002

Tonga MP says remittances create problems

10:33 am on 19 July 2002

A Tongan MP says remittances received from overseas family members are damaging to both sides.

Dr Fred Sevele was commenting after the World Bank urged Pacific Islanders in New Zealand to stop sending cash to families in the islands, saying it creates dependency and harms New Zealand's economy.

Dr Sevele says money sent home from Tongans living overseas is spent on consumption and doesn't help development.

He says Tonga receives about 40 million US dollars in remittances a year from Tongans in New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Dr Sevele says the government, churches and families are relying too much on this money and Tongans overseas often send money to family members to their own detriment.

"The people in New Zealand, Australia and the States who are sending money they have their own costs they have their own lives to lead. At times I do travel quite a bit, it really breaks my heart to see a lot of Tongans there who are sending money here are going without some of the things that they need in order to send money back to their family."

MP Fred Sevele who also runs a money transfer business in Tonga.