Tuvalu News

PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawaii

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NO YEAR 2002 BUDGET PLANNED FOR TUVALU

FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (January 30, 2002 * Radio Australia)---The new Tuvalu government is not planning to develop a revised annual budget for this year.

Prime Minister Koloa Talake says there's no money to finance major projects, and a new budget will be prepared only if there's a surplus after normal, ongoing government costs are met.

Mr. Talake took over as Prime Minister a month ago, when a vote of no confidence ousted Faimalaga Luka as government head.

The Tuvalu government is now looking for extra revenue by capitalizing on under-utilized resources, such as the export of non-migratory fish to the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

It also expects higher earnings from the ".tv" Internet domain and is considering membership in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) so it can manage its own air space.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

Some science argues against that and one key study finds no evidence of rising sea levels.

"The data does not support any sea-level rise at all," Wolfgang Scherer, the director of Australia*s National Tidal Facility (NTF) at Flinder*s University in Adelaide says.

He said that there had been no change in average sea level over eight years.

Scherer had an explanation for the willingness of Pacific politicians to accept the notion that they are sinking.

"When you live there on a day to day basis and you do have water lapping at your feet when you have storm surges coming through it is not a very comfortable experience," he said.

"Sea levels have been rising since the last ice age."

Bennetts says the tide gauge has only been in Tuvalu for a decade -- "a relative blip."

"Seems to me that the NTF reads the gauge and the results are interpreted by or to suit Canberra," he says.

He told AFP that in the four years he had been in Tuvalu he had seen no observable change but had been taken to islands where once sandy beaches were "now no more than a frequently awash rock, denuded and eroded by a succession of storms and king tides."

Encroaching salinity was killing crops.

"Tuvaluans won*t awake one day to find themselves neck deep in rising seas," Bennetts says. "However, climate change will manifest itself in many ways; agriculture and fisheries will be affected by changing rainfall patterns, ocean temperatures and currents. Add frequency of violent storms, encroaching salinity and Tuvaluans* island homes may be rendered uninhabitable, forcing Tuvaluans to look to larger neighboring countries for help and ultimately a new home."

The outside world has crowded into Tuvalu before.

In the book, 88-year-old Kelese Simona of Nukulaelae atoll ("the land of beautiful women") told of his father*s story of the day in 1863 when blackbirders or slave traders from Peru showed up.

Says Kelese: "A ship turned up outside the lagoon and invited the people on board to eat, sing and dance, but they were lying. Once the people were on board they locked them up and sailed away. Two men escaped and swam back to shore but the rest were never seen again."

The Peruvians stole 250 people, leaving just 100 on the atoll.
 



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