20 Feb 2008

Tonga to release funds for new initiatives

4:18 pm on 20 February 2008

The Tongan Government plans to provide eight million US dollars for new business initiatives by the end of the financial year in June.

So far Tonga's National Economic Development Council has backed a company that freeze packs root crops, and the Transport Minister, Paul Karalus, says another 40 businesses may qualify for dollar-for-dollar grants of up to 50,000 dollars.

Mr Karalus says money is also being made available for industry-wide applications.

He says the first use of this has been to conduct a survey of deep-sea fish stocks.

"Another example of an industry wide application is we are now working on assistance to airlines in terms of their marketing for tourism and also too to strengthen the local tourist associations to engage local tourist operators, be they properties, in-bound tour operators and so on, to engage them together with this marketing effort to improve tourism."

Mr Karalus says a third category of support will see the government put up venture capital for projects.