Vanuatu daily news digest | 21 September 2012

North Efate chiefs are surprised and greatly upset at Minister of Lands Steven Kalsakau’s taking their land from them. Kalsakau issued two new leases last month in favour of Kalorib Poilapa of Mele village for 2,300 hectares of Lelepa/Mangaliliu (Lelema) land on which the Lelema people had applied for a community lease. They are urging the Minister to revoke the new lease. Kalorib Poilapa is believed to be a ‘front man’ for big agricultural interests. The Lands Department says the Minister will hold a press conference next week to explain rural and urban land sales.

Prosecution delays may mean the Phocea case is dismissed, is today’s Daily Post front page headline. The Prosecution was not happy with the case as presented by the investigators — readers will remember the first and principal investigator was suspended by the Minister concerned early into his inquiries. A second reason for the delay is the absence of Pascal Anh Quan Saken, a.k.a. Vu Ahn Kuan, who is principal witness and defendant. Magistrate Rita Naviti was clearly disturbed at the likelihood of further delays and gave the Prosecution until 3pm today to adjust the charges to remove Anh Quan.

Donald Pellam, marketing and promotions officer for the Department of Industry, tells Radio Vanuatu News thirty Chinese investors are coming to set up heavy industries. “Often Chinese investors come to set up retail and wholesale businesses. We are interested in value adding and exporting”, says Pellam. The Chinese government is to assist Vanuatu’s government and private sector to obtain more heavy industry.

Which begs the question – what kind of heavy industry? Mining? Shipbuilding? Chemical plants? Oil refining? And what resources, if any, does Vanuatu have that heavy industry could use? Heavy industry is capital intensive, consumes massive amounts of resources and usually produces large amounts of pollution and environmental degradation. Vanuatu is environmentally vulnerable, with a population almost entirely reliant on its land and natural resources. There is no environmental protection agency or governance structure to speak of, and even less willingness by Government to enforce the scant laws and policies that do exist. Add to this mix the systemic corruption that exists at all levels of Government, and you have a recipe for environmental disaster.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Bakoa Kaltongga has rejected all allegations of the present outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot that he was responsible for sales of passports. Kaltongga added his concern that Carlot should not have boarded the Phocea before it was legally entered into Port Vila harbour.

Creation of a national framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD Plus) will open the door to funding to run a variety of forestry programmes, the Forestry Department advised through Radio Vanuatu News. Sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks are two of the aims of the REDD Plus concept which expands “the role of forests as pools of carbon”. A team is working to set up a national framework for a REDD Plus programme in Vanuatu.

And so we come to the Vanuatu Republican Party leadership squabble. Marcellino Pipite won the court case. Maxime Carlot Korman, Dominique Morin, Marco Herrominly and Judah Isaac cannot stand as VRP candidates for the upcoming general election, according to the judgement.

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