Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 September 2013

The Shefa Province consultation with custom land owners, Tuesday, proved extremely successful, Minister Ralph Regenvanu pleased that where land issues are concerned, the Vanuatu Government is now on the same track as land owners. In 2006 in the National Lands Summit, custom owners had been highly critical of past governments’ mis-use of their lands and yesterday they were delighted to see that their 2006 resolutions were being acted upon. Shefa Province custom owners attended a huge gathering in the VNPF premises, learned quite a lot about what the ministry was planning and were asked to give their advice, area by area (such as South Efate, East Efate, Nguna / Pele, North-West Efate, Shepherds and Epi) on a set of questions which will be reflected in new land legislation. Power over land issues is being returned to the farea (which proved to be the correct term for Shefa, rather than nakamal or nasara) – especially to avoid ministers of lands signing leases which might not be approved by the community. Shefa’s was the first of provincial meetings of a similar type which will take place in all provinces in the next fortnight. The minister and his departmental and legal team will hear the views of every area of the country on the remaining outstanding points. Custom land owners are being advised through service messages when Minister Regenvanu and team will be in their province. Changes to already drafted or planned legislation will then be introduced and the legislation come before Parliament at its November sitting.

A four billion vatu court house was depicted on the front page of Daily Post today. The artist’s impression of the new building to replace the historical edifice burnt out in 2007 shows it to adequately reflect "local tradition and a people-friendly appearance so that ni-Vanuatu people will not feel intimidated or afraid to enter the building," as the Chief Justice has requested. Prime Minister Carcasses has said "the pride of our country is our Judiciary and it must be professionally housed." A tender process for the design was completed in 2009. It is expected tendering for construction will be possible by the end of this year.

A ni-Vanuatu has been granted a licence to operate his own airline, Belair Airways Limited. He is Mr Willie Ben Karie, whose name has appeared in this blog in the past, especially in connection with Belair Shipping. His licence will permit purchase of a 10 seater plane. He was handed his licence by the Civil Aviation Director Joseph Niel, greatly pleased to authorise a ni-Vanuatu family-owned business to fly our skies like others.

The Minister of Trade, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Toara Daniel, says that the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority VIPA should adopt a one-stop-shop approach to deal with all foreign investors. He says the system is slow and needs improvement. He has called on the services of Immigration, Customs and Labour who give permits for foreign investment (it was said thus) to cooperate and set a single environment which will welcome foreign investors to conduct business in Vanuatu. Many years of operation of such a policy of welcoming any foreign investor has hardly contributed to the country’s development, but at least everyone has a Chinese shop not far away from home, and Chinese labourers are to be found on many building sites to the exclusion of ni-Vanuatu workers.

The government is undertaking a consultation with the general public over the possibility of a re-introduction of daylight saving. Older residents will recall this phenomenon from the mid-’Seventies for a brief time as a means of saving power costs in a time of fuel shortage. People are asked to write to the Government PRO by 20 September to give their ideas.

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2 Comments on “Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 September 2013”

  1. Sue Farran says:

    One way of reducing the potential poor use of the Minister of Land’s powers to lease lands which are not to the benefit of the custom owners would be to curtail that power entirely i.e. reform the Land Reform Act.

    If the power is to be returned to the Nakamal, nasara or farea I wonder how this will affect women’s rights to land and also their right to equality before the law? Some of these proposals seem to be loosing sight of the Bejing programme of action of women’s rights and certainly raise issues of whether women’s (and Youth’s) voices will be heard in these traditionally male dominated forums and whether their right to equal property rights with men will be even less likely to be achieved?

    The experience of other Melanesian countries might also usefully be referred to so point out that where matters are left to be determined by customary forums there is invariable further dispute down the line and a tendency to appeal to other forums (for example in Solomon Islands to the Customary Land Court, and in Samoa to the Lands and Titles Court) and even in Vanuatu there seems to be an increasing trend to seek judicial review from the Customary lands Tribunals or appeal from the Island Court. This may be because there are problems in the composition, recognition and running of these courts, but the problem may be much more deep-seated and not one that will necessarily go away just because the forum is changed and may even be worse if the forum is changed.

  2. supporter says:

    Re : daylight saving time
    Could you give us a link (email) for the PRO officer ?
    It seems to me (and others) DST here is quite unnecessary, neither N Caledonia nor Queensland, which are in the same latitudes, have DST.
    If it is just to keep people from drinking kava (which it will not) – I do not think it is worth the trouble… and confusion, if one remembers the last effort some time in the 90s when some people were on DST and others not !
    For under an hour more or less sunlight … not worth the effort.

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