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."
Vakas arriving today!
Three large voyaging canoes are to be officially welcomed today in the capital on their way to Sydney. They will participate in the 6th World Parks Conference. The three vaka left Suva, Fiji on Tuesday 14 October. They include Marumaru Atua from the Cook Islands, Gaualofa from Samoa and Uto ni Yalo from Fiji. A fourth sailing north from Aotearoa will meet them in Sydney for the Congress. They are on what is called the Mua Voyage and its theme is an appeal for environmental sustainability for the Pacific Islands and Ocean.
There will be a welcome at the Seafront today at 3.30 pm and everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the afternoon. The weather looks good. See the voyaging vakas’ cultural performances and meet the crew members of the vakas.
Come and celebrate the revival of traditional voyaging and seafaring in the South Pacific.
Come and appeal for a sustainable Pacific.
This morning all media are carrying news of the postponement, due Ebola’s widening circulation, of the huge Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly which was to begin on 26 November bringing some hundreds of foreign Parliamentarians to Port Vila. The office of the Prime Minister, Daily Post states, declares the decision is "absolutely essential particularly because it was admitted Vanuatu does not have in place in place the necessary measures, resources nor the health infrastructure in compliance with requirements of the WHO," at least not in time for the meeting.
Post also begins today with the news the Supreme Court has declared the MoU between the Republic and VUI, Santo electricity, void. The reasons are not yet clear but will be made available as soon as possible.
Youth are today participating in a climate change march in the capital. Sea level rise is the main concern, and dramatic pictures of such effects at White Point, Nguna, are shown on the Transparency page. Transparency draws attention to their own Global Report on Climate Change.
There is more … You will get it later.
As mentioned two days ago, the Speaker of the Vanuatu Parliament has been in Brussels to discuss the planning for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly scheduled for 26 November – 3 December. This was to bring some hundreds of delegates and officials to the capital. Prime Minister Natuman has just now spoken over national radio saying that the ACP-EU Assembly here at this time is cancelled and a time in June next year is being offered. The Ebola virus, which has so interfered with the lives of the people of Africa, is the reason. Many West African delegates will be amongst the visitors. The PM and Government are concerned that delegates should run no particular risk by coming to a small island developing country, lacking many facilities. PM Natuman said the Vanuatu Government decision, agreed in the Council of Ministers, is understood by the ACP-EU organizing committee which will organise another meeting in November for Brazil.
The European Commission has saluted Vanuatu and Fiji in their efforts to tackle illegal fishing after warnings two years ago. The Commission says, and RNZI and Radio Vanuatu report, the two countries have taken concrete measures to address shortcomings and shown commitment to complete structural reforms in order to address illegal fishing. New laws and better control, monitoring and inspection are required. Sri Lanka has failed to begin compliance and is likely to lose the ability to import Sri Lankan fish catches. PNG has now received a formal warning.
Prime MInister Natuman has praised the small island companies of Ifira Wharf and Stevedoring for the dividends which have just been released by Chief Mantoi Kalsakau III. Natuman said that their agreement "remains a positive example of public / private partnership which maintains the confidence of the Government to continue to support the new development initiatives including the Lepatasi multi-purpose wharf terminal." Daily Post reported VT 25 million going to the Vanuatu Government which is shared with the Municipality, Shefa and Tafea, Daily Post reported today.
SPREP is assisting Vanuatu delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference to set the priority issues. The Conference is in Bonn, 20 – 25 October. Local experts are being assigned issues to address. Climate Change DG Jotham Napat told participants they must take action because climate change continues to affect us, VBTC News reported.
On VBTC News and in Daily Post, Foreign Minister Kilman’s speech to the Bali Democracy Forum is highlighted by the Minister’s referring to the continually evolving nature of governance, to "meet the growing demands of a nation at a local level. He also spoke of the "quality leadership which a democratic political system promises to everyone."
The Vanuatu daily news Digest here brings you the full text of Prime Minister Natuman’s address to the General Assembly to the United Nations.
He congratulates the people of Fiji for their resilience and steadfastness and the newly elected PM for fulfilling his promise to the international community to return Fiji to a state of democracy. He draws the General Assembly’s attention to Vanuatu’s ongoing vulnerability, even after it has achieved its graduation from Least Developed Country status in December 2017. Small Island Developing States’ vulnerability remains undiminished, he declares. He reminds developed countries of their commitment to increase aid to 0.7% of GNP as agreed at the Monterrey Consensus and he gives his views on the post 2015 Development Agenda, the theme of the UN General Assembly this year.
The Maewo Island Council of Chiefs has asked the Government concerning the 165 mineral prospecting licences granted for the waters of Vanuatu, whether in the absence of significant surveillance the government can be certain what the prospectors are actually doing. Their Chairman raised the question at the Deep Sea Mining Conference last week, Radio Vanuatu News reported. The Commissioner of Mines, Tony Tevi, responded that chiefs of areas concerned were always approached in the first instance by his staff for permission for such mining before the minister signed the licence. Tevi said the company is required to inform government of the extent of the mineral deposit sought. The company is then advised of the permitted extraction.
Pacnews has reported the Kiribati Government shocking the fishing world by revealing that without warning it has forced most of the American tuna fleet out of its waters and is letting Chinese and Taiwanese vessels take over. The move is seen as a threat to the viability of the New Zealand tuna fishing operations as the Americans will be forced into crowded alternative fishing grounds. The United States had agreed to pay 90 million USD to member states of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) for US flagged purse seine fishing vessels for 8,300 catch days in the region.
The Second Youth Symposium presently underway is expected to inform participants concerning climate change. The government and private sector are instructing the youth delegates from all islands in relation to climate change and adaption of activities to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Radio Vanuatu News tells us.
The Chinese community has donated generously to flood victims of the Prima and Teouma River Bridge areas. Post shows large quantities of rice and other daily requirements, after a letter was received from Port Vila MP Jean-Yves Chabod. Chinese Community Association President, Jean-Baptiste Leong, made the handover of the VT 300,000 worth of goods.
Daily Post headlines today with MP Robert Bohn saying he and his business associate, Tom Bayer, confirm they have funded political parties, but he dismissed claims they assisted in funding motions of no confidence. Bayer and Bohn are naturalized citizens.
Post also highlights the cervical cancer screening unit temporarily closed until one or two expatriate volunteers are in place.
The Daily Post Customs and Inland Revenue page helpfully indicates how "zero rated" for VAT can be applied with approved aid projects.