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Niue joins list of debt-free nations; to hike pensions by 10%

Niue has managed to pay off up to $4m of debt and has “no interest” in borrowing again, especially from big powers like China

At a time when almost the entire world is facing financial crisis, here comes some good news.

Niue, one of the world’s smallest countries, has declared itself debt-free and is spending the extra money on increasing pensions and offering incentives to lure expatriates home.

Toke Talagi, premier of the tiny island nation, said this during Niue’s constitution day celebrations last week, which marked 42 years of self government in free association with New Zealand.

The island was now debt free and could afford to increase fortnightly pensions from $250 to $272, he said.

He has also promised pay rise for government employees, the biggest single category of workers on Niue, and their four-day work week would remain in place.

The island of Niue, perched on a coral atoll in the south Pacific, is home to fewer than just 1,700 persons, that, too, because of the return of many expat Niueans.

Premier Toke Talagi told The Guardian that Niue had managed to pay off up to $4m of debt and had “no interest” in borrowing again, especially from big powers like China that had offered the country “huge sums that other Pacific islands find too tempting to resist”.

“We are trying to live within our means using the island’s natural resources such as tourism, bananas and exporting water,” Talagi reportedly said.

“It is better for us to be patient and invest in funding sources within our island that we will be able to depend on,” he added.

New Zealand’s total aid package to Niue in 2015-16 year was $16.4 million.

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