Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva has declared in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand that there will be no room for casinos in Tonga.
Speaking to Kaniva News after a welcoming reception in Hastings tonight Monday 3, Hon. Pōhiva underscored that his government will not permit any casino to be built in the country.
His response comes after his Finance Minister Tēvita Lavemaau told Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s television on Tuesday, March 28 Tonga should learn from how Samoa runs their casinos.
“I have just returned from Solomon. There were eight casinos in Solomon and I met with Samoa’s Minister of Custom and Revenues and after questioning him he said there are two casinos in Samoa. Only those who hold foreign passports can use the casinos”, Hon. Lavemaau told the Television in Tongan.
“So as I looked at it Samoa gets millions from these two ventures.
“So as I personally looked at it in my role as Minister of Finance of the nation I am happy to hear about these things and it is important for us to go and have a look and learn from it.
“And then we come back with what we have learnt, it is a good idea as it can open an opportunity for the rich people all over the world to visit our nation and assist our country’s economic development”.
However the Minister said the government has not issued a licence to any company to build casinos in Tonga.
Casino and other forms of gambling are illegal in Tonga.
As we reported, the Tongan church leaders’ committee in New Zealand was planning to protest alongside former Tongan army personnel in Auckland against what they believe are plans for a casino in the kingdom.
The peaceful protest was planned after the Finance Minister was interviewed by the Television last Tuesday.
The Prime Minister is currently in New Zealand on a five-day trip to meet with the Recognised Seasonal Employers in Hastings and Kerikeri.
Hon. Pōhiva is expected to fly from Hawkes Bay back to Auckland tomorrow morningTuesday 4 on his way to Kerikeri to meet with RSE employers and Tongan employees there.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the Prime Minister was aware of the planned protest.
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