Levies to fund hosting of 2019 Pacific Games to be stopped

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva says all levies the government has collected to host the Pacific Games 2019 would be diverted to help prepare the Tongan athletes.

His comment follow Monday’s announcement that Tonga will not host 2019 Pacific Games.

Pohiva said he decided to pull out of hosting the Games after he saw a World Bank report last week

The report said many countries, including in the Pacific, were left with under-utilised sporting facilities after hosting sporting events which rapidly deteriorated with under-use and lack of funding for maintenance.

In its budget for 2015/16 the government increased the international passengers’ departure tax by TP$100 to TP$165 while a new charge on foreign currency transfers was expected to collect an additional TP$2 million each year to help fund the Games.

The Foreign Exchange Levy was implemented from June 1, 2016. 

Pohiva said the government would soon stop collecting the levies and all the money that had already been collected would be diverted and invested on sport training.

When asked by Kaniva News how he expected the Pacific Games Council to react, he said they had read the agreement that bound Tonga to host the Games and could not see anything that would backfire on Tonga.

“I told the cabinet not to worry about it as at the end of the day the participating countries and their athletes would leave Tonga and return to their countries, leaving us here with the burden of trying to maintain the quality of these sporting facilities,” the Prime Minister said.

“Maybe the council will penalise Tonga by not giving us any further chance to host the Games in the future,” he said.

New Zealand and Australia

The Prime Minister told Kaniva News he believed New Zealand and Australia did not support Tonga hosting the Games.

He said New Zealand’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Murry McCully warned him about hosting the Games.

He said New Zealand only donated NZ$1.8 million for the Games while Australia had not made a donation.

“This showed to me they are not supporting Tonga’s hosting the Games”, Pohiva said.

He said there was no problems with this because the two countries had invested millions of dollars on other projects in Tonga.

“It is not fair for Tonga to host the Games while at the same time we are relying pretty much on these countries to support us financially through the budget support funding,” Pohiva said.