25 Aug 2005

Forum to send finance expert to Tonga

4:35 pm on 25 August 2005

The Pacific Islands Forum is to send a financial analyst to Tonga after its government requested help following the big wage demands made by striking workers.

Public servants have been striking for more than a month and want wage increases of up to 80 percent.

The Government says it cannot afford such an increase - that the workers would be taking three quarters of government revenue.

Two days ago Tonga's Ministry of Finance asked the Forum for assistance and deputy secretary general, Iosefa Maiava, says they intend sending an official to consider the overall impact of salary increases.

"It's going to be a straight forward accounting exercise of costing up the impact of the salary increases that are being requested. The exercise will be to verify the impact it will have on the economy and on the budget."

Mr Maiava says he wants to send the expert either this week, or early next.