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Tonga-Now exceeded its mandate

Nuku'alofa, Tonga


We would like to respond to the queries raised by some of your readers regarding the Tonga-Now website.

The Tonga-Now website was initially set up in 2005 as one of the outreach programmes of the Reform Information Office located within the Ministry of Finance. The Reform Information Office itself was established as part of the Government’s Economic and Public Sector Reform Programme (EPSRP) that started in 2002.

The objective of establishing the Reform Information Office and thus the Tonga Now website was to inform and educate the public about the fiscal, public service, financial sector and private sector reforms that were being introduced under EPSRP.

In carrying out its stated objective of informing and educating the public about the reforms Tonga-Now was expected to be factual and apolitical. It was also expected to confine itself to the subject areas dealt with under EPSRP. Tonga-Now has on occasions exceeded its mandate.

In the recent past complaints within Government have been raised about Tonga-Now’s performance, the most recent of which related to its coverage of duty allowances of staff of the Ministry of Health in December 2007.

In 2007 the Government appointed a new Minister for Information. The long term vision is that under this new Minister, all the public information and media needs of the Government of Tonga will be coordinated. This work is in progress.

Pursuant to that long term vision, Cabinet decided that the Information Unit from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Tonga-Now website from the Ministry of Finance would be better incorporated and relocated physically into the new Information Office.

The Tonga-Now website was becoming too expensive, and the contract with the consulting agency that managed the Tonga-Now website ended at the end of January 2008. A replacement site is currently under consideration.

We hope that the new website from the Information Office will soon be installed and operating.

Malo ‘aupito

Information Office

Government of Tonga

sfinau [at] mpei [dot] gov [dot] to