18 Jul 2006

Tonga public servants cut by a third

3:33 pm on 18 July 2006

The Tongan government says it has now reduced its public service work force by about a third.

The finance minister, Siosiua 'Utoikamanu, says his government is already addressing concerns about the state of the economy raised last month by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF said the country's economic prospects are uncertain and called for major changes.

Mr Utoikamanu says the government has already implemented measures including policies to encourage private sector-led growth.

He says they have also accelerated the public sector reform programme to reduce the size of the public sector, with more than 800 redundancies, while another 900 vacant positions have been frozen.

The minister says this is an effective workforce reduction of around a third.

He says the government is also moving quickly to privatise some public enterprises.

Mr Utoikamanu says they are confident this will result in a stabilized economy and lays a solid platform for the country to move forward.