Vanuatu daily news digest | 3 September 2013Posted: September 3, 2013
The Port Vila Urban Development Project, which will significantly improve the capital’s drainage and road conditions, yesterday saw the signing of a management consultancy contract with an Australian company. The Port Vila Urban Development Project is for the improvement of 22 km of the main roads in town, and access roads, and the upgrading of 25 km of underground drainage and 8 km of open channels.The Vanuatu Government is taking Asian Development Bank participation for 5 million US dollars for its part in the Ministry of Public Utilities (MIPU) project. The Australian Government is supporting the project to the extent of USD 26 million to the Vanuatu Government’s USD 3 million. The figures were not entirely clear on VBTC this morning, but the agencies responsible are the Australian Government, ADB and Vanuatu Government. Minister Esmon Saemon said the present government is pleased to be able to go ahead with the project which began in the time of the previous government and he thanked the Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer and representative of the management company (about which more in later vanuatudaily bulletins) for what is about to be done to improve Vanuatu’s capital’s appearance and infrastructure.
Minister for Trade Toara Daniel has asked all trade officials and stakeholders to do their part to bring kava to a standard which the full world recognizes. He did this at the Pacific ACP states preparatory meeting (believed to be taking place in Brussels) – a planning and strategy session for the ACP countries before the WTO full ministerial meeting in Bali near the end of the year. VBTC News this morning said he pointed out the areas in which WTO Pacific countries could assist in a way which would help them all financially. Minister Daniel sees kava as an important commodity if the WTO can only find ways to relax certain trade restrictions. He pointed out that he had taken every advice from his trade officials and regional experts and hoped they would assist in the ministry’s best efforts to have kava of standards recognized worldwide.
Clarence Marae, on the staff of the former prime minister of Vanuatu and travelling with him when arrested in Sydney, has been sentenced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment for his involvement in a 4.5 million Australian dollar fraud. He pleaded guilty yesterday in the Supreme Court in Brisbane. Convictions have also been recorded against Australians Sidney Henke, Robin David Huston and Brian Francis Fox. Fifteen companies were involved in the scheme, which used sham loans, offshore bank accounts and companies, and Marae was in the business of winding up the companies after the Australians tried to appeal their much earlier convictions. Justice John Byrne said the scam involved a substantial and criminal conspiracy and pointed out that Marae had previously been convicted of bribery and misappropriation. "It is apparent you have misdirected your considerable intellect and personal skills to criminal activities," he told Marae. There is a non-parole period of 22 months. It will be recalled that the Marae arrest resulted in Vanuatu losing the assistance of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) until quite recently.