Vanuatu daily news digest | 10 January 2013Posted: January 10, 2013
Opposition MP Ralph Regenvanu insists that the Prime Minister investigate the transfer of a lease over the Lelema (Lelepa and Mangaliliu) lands in North Efate to developers for just two million vatu, reports Australian media outlets Radio Australia and Yahoo7, plus Radio Vanuatu News this morning. The matter has been in the courts since the chiefs of Mangaliliu and Lelepa discovered the land had been transferred to a Mele man by former Minister of Lands Steven Kalsakau. This lease was flipped to land developers Michel Monvoisin and Ludovic Bolliet just before Christmas.
Daily Post reports today that developer Michel Monvoisin delivered to the newspaper yesterday a consent to transfer document, signed by the present Lands Minister James Bule, showing a transfer fee of twenty million vatu and saying this was the amount paid for the land. The document that we have seen, and published on this website, clearly shows that the figure of Vt 20 million has been crossed out, the modification initialled and replaced with a figure of Vt 2 million.
But the amount paid is beside the point. The main issue is how the interests of the indigenous customary landholders, which the Constitution says the Minister of Lands and his staff have a duty to protect, were pushed aside in favour of moneyed foreigners. And Vt 20 million is still a pittance of a lease premium, considering its size and position.
The Prime Minister’s Office has announced the appointment of the colourful Jeff Joel Patunvanu as the Government’s public relations officer. Patunvanu has a chequered history as a self-styled ‘right-wing freedom fighter’, rabble-rouser, occasional Muslim, dabbler in Judaism and part-time Santo real-estate consultant. Patunvanu’s appointment is an odd choice for the Kilman Government, already suffering from poor credibility, but is in keeping with the general tone of Kilman’s administration to date.
Agriculture Minister Kalfau Moli says he will investigate the management of the Vanuatu shipping registry, which is currently run by a private company, Vanuatu Maritime Services Ltd, reports Radio Vanuatu. He says over 100 fishing vessels are on the Vanuatu Maritime Services registry, but the Department of Fisheries is unable to control these vessels because of the influence of the private company. Moli says it is important that Government fisheries policies are respected by everyone.
Prime Minister Sato Kilman has ordered the closure of commercial radio station FM107 for failure to renew its licence, says the front page of the Daily Post today. The PM says that the Saby Natonga-owned station has failed to pay its licence fee since 2010.