Vanuatu daily news digest | 25 October 2014

Daily Post’s today outlines the steps being taken by the Natuman Government to remedy the situation as regards Bauerfield Airport. A World Bank team is arriving this week to assess the situation and a geotech consultancy is being appointed, Marango is advised by the PM’s Information Officer Kiery Manassah. The consultancy will give a study concerning the extent of the damage to the runway and the funding required for repair. There is a new Task Force. It is having nothing to do with VTDL which took the results of its survey with it when Parliament voted against its proposals.

The Independent, the newspaper run as a charity, however, has its editor saying that "absolutely nothing is happening as regards repairs at Bauerfield". He is certainly not very charitable in what he says, nor even slightly accurate, and must still be listening to the sacked Task Force. That one certainly did not see anything happen in a year or so.

Customary land owner Kalpovi Mangawai has agreed the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) use his land and beachfront near Ifira Point for the location of a temporary inter-island wharf facility. It will be a pontoon for loading and unloading of inter-island vessels as the Star Wharf is reconstructed under the Inter-Island Shipping Support Project.

Diamond-backed squid have been confirmed by Fisheries as being found in Vanuatu waters under the Grace of the Sea project. It is felt they may be able to be harvested in commercially worthwhile quantities. The Fisheries Department has been demonstrating the catch at their headquarters, VBTC News reports. Tourism personnel were also present.

The Independent reports Princess Anne here for the Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue for this year, involving chosen young people from around the region.

Santos Vatoko, CEO of the VNPF, responds to recent criticism in the media. On the Post VNPF page he suggests the Banian subdivision investment was processed in accordance with normal assessment protocols. A VNPF Erangorango decision has been delayed until certain conditions are fulfilled.

A Supreme Court order presently prohibits the government from acquiring Freshwind land, some 58 lease titles to protect the water source for the town. It appears a Supreme Court case, No. 171 of 2011, must first be determined before an acquisition can proceed. (Daily Post.)

The fair trade association ACTIV on Thursday launched a delicious new local industry which ‘adds value’ in a way all can appreciate – a chocolate industry. Cocoa beans used in the manufacture and testing of the local product were tested by a panel of experts. Daily Post reveals the very best seemed to be from Malekula,

Vanuatu daily news digest | 24 October 2014

Not a lot that’s newsworthy today. Ministerial injunctions were the subject of leading VBTC Radio News this morning. The Minister for the Environment is warning against the cutting down of too many trees. Environment Minister Bule said there must be balance between the development everyone wants and the environment they need. The Minister of Agriculture is telling Chinese food outlets to use more local root crops and vegetables in their recipes, starting January, and that these crops will be a key point in future policy planning. Good idea.

However, Daily Post led with the resurgence of the Tanna potato producing season of which we have not heard a lot for some number of years. Over a ton has just been harvested. Another good idea for southern farmers.

Daily Post also led with MP Richard Mera denying he signed a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Natuman. Post also gave adequate space to the new French Ambassador (Allande Boispean) presenting his credentials to the new President (Baldwin Lonsdale). There were no references in their discussion to Umaeneag and Umaenupne.

The Transparency page of Post is interesting in relation to citizenships revoked and political parties’ statements concerning their funding. It would seem increasingly important that political party financing is declared.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 23 October 2014

Worries proliferate concerning the Ebola crisis in Africa and our preparedness should it ever get here. Trying to ensure everyone remains calm, the Health Ministry is preparing a public meeting for tomorrow at 10 am in the World Health Organisation conference room. Dr Tokon expresses the concerns of the medical profession in today’s Post. Media attendance is especially required at the public meeting, the Ministry says. Of interest to islanders will be the finding from the first Ebola crisis in neighbouring African states in 1976 that the flying fox was a principal carrier of the virus forty years ago, assisting the disease to cross international borders.

The number of displaced persons from Destination at Tagabe has increased, the figure now being given as 432 following issue of the eviction order. 53 houses were destroyed. Chief Kalsong of the Eratap / Etas area where the refugees will be housed was praised by provincial authorities for making land available for the Destination people. The general public is again urged to be aware of people coming to settle on land for which no title is ever likely to be available.

Page one of Daily Post today urges a Commission of Inquiry into VNPF investments. In particular, the purchase of Banian Estate for VT 180 million is questioned, suggesting it could have made the purchase for around half that amount. The VNPF must remain aware of all suggestions such as this one and it would do well to refer to them in its not so frequent "Updates" in Daily Post. Lately we have simply learned of their ICT advances, that Member Financial Services has moved and that the Fund has a "new look". Members are entitled to a freer flow of information, especially since it is particular investments which generally give rise to Fund crises.

The VT 1.510.470.456 allegedly owing to the Fishermen of the Fishermen’s Cooperative as unpaid wages after years at sea in different oceans remains still unpaid.The men themselves announced it would be paid out on Tuesday but this did not happen. Daily Post carries the story which ranges from their being given control of the Palekula base at Santo, mis-management of it and the mis-use of the asset, to their attempt to force government to pay through the judicial processes.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 22 October 2014- second try

There has not been a lot blogabble since the last vanuatudaily – the Digest – came out on Monday. But there were the evictions from Destination (more about them a little later).

PM Natuman highlights the need for urgent repairs to Bauerfield airport. It is a major concern of government. A new Task Force committee has been appointed. But the PM made it clear there is no plan for any new Greenfield airport development until an Aviation Master Plan is established. On Radio Vanuatu News he accused the former promoters of the Greenfield project at Rentabau of misleading the public as regards airport development.

Daily Post led today with news of a new ATR arriving next week for the national airline. CEO Joseph Laloyer explained that the first ATR 72 500 has been an excellent workhorse. He was pleased to be able to point out the advantages for local travelers.

The revision of agricultural policies proceeds, and Minister Tosul has continued to explain through VBTC how policies are being established. Starting next year, and with the revised land laws in place, the Minister said, he expects all young people to be able to have work. This would be on their own custom land.

The eviction of people from the Destination area near the Tagabe Agricultural College took place several days ago without interference and general cooperation from the 300 residents. The Acting Police Commissioner seemed pleased with the results. Which brings us to today’s news and Daily Post advising that a hectare of land has been found at Etas with the cooperation of the Ministry of Lands. This parcel of space is intended for those who have been displaced by the 10 eviction orders which were legally carried out.

As well as the new TVET Centre in Toba there is now a USP sub-centre from last week. It is located at the Arep bi-lingual school

Lands Minister Regenvanu Friday met with the nickel smelters in New Caledonia to establish what are their expectations of smelting at Santo. He also met with his counterpart in the Caledonian government. New Caledonia has offered to assist Vanuatu in this matter should such help be needed.

Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini, Minister of Tourism, has urged bus and taxi drivers to improve their behaviour towards their passengers – tourists and especially those on cruise ships. Special training for bus and taxi drivers has recently been held.

Sanma Province has been training its area personnel in financial matters.

And a couple of corrections (so rarely needed for this bulletin!) The VNPF purchase of Club Vanuatu needs must be considered worthwhile. It is to be the headquarters for the financial and investor and employer institutions – VIPA, Customs, Labour, Immigration, etc. Rent will be paid to the VNPF for the "one stop shop".

And Korman Stadium … whilst built for the 1993 Mini-Games was not built by the Chinese as an aid project. Who remembers the responsible donor(s)?

Vanuatu daily news digest | new pollution with Caledonie smelting

Le cours du nickel a atteint son plus haut niveau depuis plus de deux ans. Suite à une nouvelle pollution, l’activité de l’usine hydro-métallurgique de nickel du brésilien Vale en Nouvelle-Calédonie est paralysée.

© ALAIN JEANNIN Dans une usine de nickel en Nouvelle-Calédonie

Vale International est une multinationale minière majoritairement brésilienne, installée dans le canton de Vaud en Suisse. Elle exploite des mines dans plus de trente pays, sur les cinq continents, et emploie plus de 195.000 personnes. Elle fait partie d’un cartel qui se partage la production de matières premières à l’échelle planétaire.

Pire entreprise de la planète selon Greenpeace

Vale a changé de nom. Appelée auparavant Companhia Vale do Rio Docen, elle est la deuxième compagnie minière en importance au monde pour la capitalisation boursière. Créée en 1942 comme entreprise publique au Brésil, elle a été privatisée en 1997. En 2012, des ONG, notamment Greenpeace, lui ont attribué en marge du sommet de Davos, le Public Eye Award qui « récompense » la pire entreprise de la planète.

Au Canada, Vale est confronté à des questions récurrentes de sécurité dans les mines de Sudbury avec le décès de plusieurs mineurs depuis 2012. En Afrique et en Amazonie, des écologistes et des paysans dénoncent les dégâts sociaux et environnementaux de son activité minière.

Le marché du nickel s’affole

Cynthya Ligeard, la présidente de la province Sud de Nouvelle-Calédonie, a annoncé mercredi qu’elle avait décidé « de suspendre immédiatement l’activité » de l’usine hydro-métallurgique de nickel du brésilien Vale, suite à une nouvelle fuite d’acide dans cette unité où les problèmes sont récurrents. La première conséquence de la réduction de 80 % de la production de l’usine Vale en Nouvelle-Calédonie ne s’est pas fait attendre.

Dans un contexte de demande spéculative, les Traders ont interprété la paralysie de la production comme un signe supplémentaire de tension sur les livraisons de nickel. La tonne de métal est montée cette semaine à 20.041 dollars US sur le London Metal Exchange, soit son niveau le plus élevé depuis le 2 mars 2012. En deux jours, le gain s’élève à 8 %. « Le nickel a bondi dans d’énormes volumes d’échanges », a signalé à l’AFP Vicky Sanders, analyste chez Marex Spectron : « Même si la production de Nouvelle-Calédonie est relativement petite, la fermeture de l’usine calédonienne de Vale semble avoir dopé le sentiment des opérateurs ». Stephen Briggs, le "grand gourou" du nickel chez BNP Paribas à Londres, précise à la 1è : « l’accident chez Vale intervient dans un contexte général de flambée brutale des cours du nickel. L’interruption des livraisons de nickel de Vale en Nouvelle-Calédonie a relancé la bulle spéculative sur le métal du diable. »

Spéculation sur Eramet

Le cours du métal est en très forte hausse depuis le début de l’année (plus de 40 %), à cause de la mise en place le 12 janvier d’un embargo sur les exportations de minerai brut de nickel en Indonésie (premier exportateur de minerai de nickel en 2013). Ces dernières semaines, le nickel a également été soutenu par la crainte de perturbations des approvisionnements du géant russe Norilsk (12 % de l’offre mondiale de nickel) en raison de la crise en Ukraine. Depuis mercredi et l’annonce par les agences Reuters et Boomberg de la pollution chez Vale-Calédonie, les investisseurs achètent massivement de l’acier inoxydable et du nickel, craignant des ruptures d’approvisionnement.

À son corps défendant, Vale contribue aussi à la progression d’Eramet. L’action du groupe métallurgique et minier français s’inscrit en vive hausse à la bourse de Paris. Le producteur historique de nickel en Nouvelle-Calédonie signait en fin de matinée la plus forte progression de la place parisienne, dans le sillage des cours du nickel et de l’arrêt de la production chez son partenaire Vale en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Le malheur des uns fait presque le bonheur des autres. It’s a wild world.


Vanuatu daily news digest – 22 October 2014

Vanuatu daily news digest | 20 October 2014

The news today begins with two warnings spelled out by VBTC News. Vanuatu should prepare for two tropical cyclones this coming cyclone season. The Department of Meteorology and Geohazards released the prediction on Friday. Some eight cyclones of category 3 and above are predicted for the entire Pacific region. The prediction will be regularly updated.

The virus Ebola is the other warning from government. The WHO has advised that because of the limited resources of Small Island Developing States, health professionals here should soon be trained in the management of Ebola, and appropriate protective uniforms obtained for Health and Medical staff to use if the virus arrives in Vanuatu.

The Minister for Youth and Sport has terminated work on the demolition of the existing Korman stadium to make way for a new complex at that location for the 2017 Mini-Games. Minister Don Ken had asked for reports on the finances to date but not been offered them by the committee concerned (Daily Post today). Korman Stadium is another public building which enjoyed generous Chinese aid funding but never had any worthwhile maintenance from the Vanuatu Government: thus the need for its demolition for another such structure. The public needs to be advised immediately that PWD has funds in place for new Korman maintenance along with Convention Centre maintenance.

And today in Post, Vanuatu Trade Development Limited’s Mr David Mak is proposing to build new airport cities in Vanuatu. He is mentioned by the Straits Times as "clearing the air". The tobacco company executive did not think any lawsuits would be necessary.

A new TVET Centre has opened in Torba. Education Minister Loughman, Australian High Commissioner Bruer and SG of the Province Ketty Napwatt were on hand for the opening. High Commissioner Bruer believes the TVET Centre model will enable owner / manager "life changing stories" for increasing skills and providing development.

And now some important stories from last week, missed from this bulletin until now …

Saturday’s Post and the Independent drew attention to the big-time gambling moving in with Amax International Holdings. Now that the Chinese are preventing Macau from offering the kind of corruption-littered services that city and tourist mecca has previously done, Junkets for off-shire on-line gambling now move to places like Vanuatu and North Cyprus. The Junket provides tickets for the gamblers of substance to get away from China and arrive in a place like Vanuatu for a break of online / offshore gambling in which mega-bucks will be won and lost.

The support the Asian Development Bank is giving the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission in the creation of its online library of registries will be appreciated by both government and the private sector. An MoU on the subject was signed last week and will give round-the-clock access to company details when they are correctly lodged with the VFSC. Australia and New Zealand are assisting ADB. The project will mean lowered cots for companies and increasing transparency.

Daily Post also reported the formation of a Virgin Coconut Oil Association. It will help promote Vanuatu coconut oil and ensure the market is reserved for ni-Vanuatu. Neil Netaf and Albert Williams are the first Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

The Transparency page last week (Friday) raises the now-becoming-perennial questions concerning the management of cases by the Public Prosecutor. TIV urges the government to consider the issues involved and ensure the Public Prosecutions Office is operating effectively.

Friday in Post "Frustrated members" of the VNPF raised a number of questions concerning the management of the Fund. Everyone is interested in making VNPF a success and such concerns must be heeded by management. The weekly good news accounts of what’s going on in the VNPF are insufficient to put aside the main worries concerning investments into which the Fund has bought. Not mentioned by the "Frustrated members", but by me here … the purchase of Club Vanuatu for $3 million. What is to become of it?

Climate Change was the subject of last week’s demonstration which saw the Deputy Prime Minister, making an environmental point, jump into the sea at the Seafront. More particularly the march was a call for the developed countries to reduce emissions of CO2 - carbon dioxide. As DG Napat said "It is about our very survival."


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