15 Oct 2003

New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands in financial strife

11:48 am on 15 October 2003

New Caledonia's member of the French Senate has slammed the financial management of the Loyalty Islands.

Simon Loueckhote, a member of the anti-independence RPCR party from the Loyalty Islands, is accusing the islands' provincial administrators of incompetence.

The news agency AFP quotes Mr Loueckhote as saying there's a budget of 100 million US dollars for the province's 20-thousand people and social services have run up debts of 8 point 9 million US dollars.

He says private medical clinics in Noumea are refusing to treat health beneficiaries from the Loyalty Islands because the province won't pay up.

The senator adds the islands' finances are a catastrophe and has asked that they be placed under the direct rule of the French High Commissioner.

Mr Loueckhote, a Kanak, is blaming young Melanesians who he says don't have the capacity to take over administrative roles from Europeans.