I applaud Senolita Swan's meaningful letter ('Tonga economy and loans' 26 July, 2007). Ms. Swan has done her homework to reference Tongan economic data.
I would, however, challenge Ms. Swan on her interpretations of this data. Particularly her preference for "fundraising," savings from wasteful cultural practices, and bank "loans" is wishful thinking. I am in agreement that the economic news from Tonga is bad, but sound economic solutions are the answers, not with a "subsistence-mentality," band-aid solution.
1) Her interpretation of the nation-building of Israel compared to Tonga is comparing apples and oranges. Israel was dismantled by foreign enemies, and all Jews were united to rebuild Israel against a common enemy. Tonga was burned by idiots who are Tongan citizens. To me they are the enemy.
2) Suggesting that 'Akilisi Pohiva, Clive Edwards and 'Uliti Uata be sent on a "fundraising"tour instead of facing their sedition charges in court is grossly naive in Ms. Swan's part. First we expatriates of Tonga will not give a dime to these three. Tonga is a law-and-order country, and the Law must take its course.
3) Tongan expatriates who are sending remittances to our families do it without discrimination. Does Ms. Swan think that we would trust our hard-earned money to government officials? Their 60-80% pay raise through threats and intimidation was highway robbery in broad daylight.
4) Sound economic solutions are based on hard work using sound economics and business practices. Ms. Swan lives in the U.K., the cradle of modern Western economics, but she wants Tonga to stay in the Dark Ages relying on handouts. The secured Chinese loan at 2% interest rate is a blessing, in my view. Where in the world can Tonga secure a loan for less than 5-10%?
5) In modern-day economics, it is the rate of interest a borrower must look at when it comes to paying off the loan. If Ms. Swan can get her banker friend in England to give Tonga a 2% loan, then he can laugh.
6) The fear of the Chinese loan is a misplaced notion perpetuated by the very people who are accused of destroying Nuku'alofa. China is made out to be the Big Bad Wolf. In contrast, China has one of the strongest economies in the world these days. There are many Western financiers who are jealous of this success in China. When it comes to economics, Tonga must seek out partners that will help solve Tonga's economic needs and problems.
samokofisi [at] mac [dot] com