Headline Jan 11, 2016/ * A TALE OF PARADISE SQUANDERED* : ''' COUNTRY NAURU '''



SO, UP TO AND AROUND 1997, the Nauruans were living and spending as if there were no ''tomorrow''.  

THE MOST SIGNIFICANT mistake DeRoburt and his successors made was to run Nauru as arguably the most comprehensive welfare state anywhere.

Nauruans receive their housing, power, water, telephones and medical services free or for a nominal charge. The tiny island has two hospitals. Nauruans needing a specialist are often flown at government expense to Australia.

Schooling is also free, and the government often pays for expensive private education abroad. The per student cost to the government for higher education was an estimate $22,000 a year   -and only 13% students completed their studies.

Furthermore, In 1997,  *the year of the tale*,  -a previously confidential report showed that the  2165 Nauruans holding jobs, just  7%  did not work for the government. The rest either worked for the national or local government or for the government owned Nauru Phosphate Corp.

Vanishing Nest Egg. One of the largest leeches on the government budget was Air Nauru. Formed two years after independence, Air Nauru had five Boeing Jets by 1980. President DeRoburt allegedly treated those like personal limousines.

In addition, Nauruans flew free or on discounts. The price : an estimated $250 million lost since the airline began operation.

A modicum of common sense was finally applied to Air Nauru. Four of its jets were sold by 1995. And in 1996 a new management was brought in, and expert consultants were hired at a cost over $130,000. But none of the Air Nauru's 125 Nauruan's employees lost jobs.

When phosphate income began to decline in 1989, wisdom should have dictated downsizing not just Air Nauru, but the entire public-employee workforce. Instead Bernard Dowiyogo, president from 1989-1994, increased the bureaucracy.

Knowing the phosphate could run out before next century, DeRoburt's government directed a large percentage of revenue be placed in the government-managed Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust. 

If this was invested well, the government thought, the principal would be so large that Nauruans could live on the interest for generations to come.  
For the past over three decades, the Trust  has toted up a list of far-flung investment: a brewery in the Solomon Islands, a square mile of Portland,Oregon, forest intended as a residential subdivision, and a seven-story office building in Washington. D.C.

Consider' too, a $45 million skyscraper built in Melbourne,  -the 52 story Nauru House with the  top-floor penthouse for DeRoburt and successive presidents. Building materials were so shoddy the Trust had to spend another $40 million on repairs.

Unofficial estimates of the Trust's value range from $1 billion to $2 billion. But based on figures in 1996, it was disclosed that when the financial factors are considered, there was little money left in the Nauruan nest egg.    
To The Brink. In 1996, when Price Waterhouse was called in by the Nauruan government to determine its financial standing, the accounting firm found the Trust in a precarious state. The conclusion, according to a high-level Nauruan official, is that in less than a decade-

The Trust had lost more than $1 billion of Nauru's future  -from a high of approximately $1.3 billion in assets to $300 million that date. And what remained was subject to liens and other payments that would bankrupt the Trust  -and the nation   -in the next few years.

At the time, many Nauruans appeared unconcerned about their future,as demonstrated during a critical parliament session of 1996. One opposition member declared,  '' It is governments that make countries poor. They have brought this country to bankruptcy!''

Another member told Dowiyogo, ''Like Nero fiddling when Rome burned, you have done nothing while our Island and our Trust are torn asunder.'' Observing the debate were some 30 Nauruan citizens who were laughing loudly. To them it was more entertainment than legitimate alarm.

In the government's desperate search for phosphate, plans got underway to demolish the historic  State House, the president's traditional residence. 

One Nauruan saying is : ''Tomorrow will take care of itself.'' So Nauruans continue tearing apart their island as if there is no tomorrow.

And at that and at this rate........there wasn't.

With respectful dedication to the  Students, Professors and Teachers of the World.  See Ya all on !WOW!  -World Students Society:

''' Shinning Ahead '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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