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‘Utukalongalu Market returned to Government

(Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/08/2016)

The Government this morning signed an agreement to return the ‘Utukalongalu market in Vava’u to their control.

Under the agreement, the Government paid an amount of TOP$1.1 million to the former owner of the market – the Pacific Properties Limited which leased the market in 2007 for 50 years in an amount of more than a million.

The Prime Minister – Hon. ‘Akilisi Pōhiva for Government and Manager of Pacific Properties Limited – Mr. John Paul Chapman, the former owner of the market signed the agreement together with the Minister of Public Enterprises – Hon. Poasi Tei, a member of the Pacific Properties Limited and the Minister of Revenue and Customs – Hon. Tevita Lavemaau.

Lavemaau told reporters in a conference, this is the first phase of the agreement which includes returning of the land and offices at ‘Utukalongalu Market, Digicel Office in Vava’u, access road to the market and nearby stalls.

The Government will then continue with the second phase of the agreement later which includes areas occupied by the ANZ Bank.

Mr. John Paul Chapman says his company Pacific Properties Limited leased the area from Government in 2007 after being tendered by Tonga Investment Limited.

He adds their focus at the moment is to develop other businesses.

I think we’ve collected less, well we haven’t collected anything from the market since we purchased it, they haven’t actually paid anything to us …… but the Agricultural at that stage should be paying that due to charges the Vava’u Development Committee, but we’re happy that the Minister have conclude this, in what we consider very fair for both parties.”

Pacific Property Limited leased the area for 50 years at a value of more than a million.

Lady Lupe Fielakepa of the company says negotiations over the area has been ongoing since 2011.

She said, although their company is a business entity, they are glad to support this move if residents of Vava’u will benefit from this exchange.

© Radio & TV Tonga News 2016