Kalsakau brothers resign from Constitutional Review Committee

Dummy spit? Yesterday, Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau was reliably reported by national radio as saying that the Government is seeking to avoid the the full advisory consultation the people deserve on the constitutional changes which the bipartisan Constitutional Review Committee is working on. He also complained that the Government is forcing income tax on people (which is not really true, since all that has happened so far is that it has started a discussion on the topic.) And PACER Plus got a swipe when we have been debating it for over a decade, along with every other Pacific island country.

Today we learn that Read the rest of this entry »

Youth act against domestic violence with powerful street performance

Arise and Make a Difference Youths – a new acting group bursting on to the street scene in Port Vila – is about to provide a new street hit with their live performances in such as the marketplace or main street. Pedestrians may find themselves near a couple of aunties buying kumala as the boyfriend of one sneaks up and begins an attack. The other woman calls the police. The aim of the group is to stop broken homes and violence against women. Their message is one of peace. (Daily Post)

That motion… Opposition Leader Kalsakau, whose motion to have PM Charlot Salwai toppled from the Government went nowhere yesterday, was clearly peeved that issues of substance were being ignored. Not taking Constitutional changes to the people Read the rest of this entry »

Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro remembered fondly in Vanuatu for his support at UN for independence for New Hebrides

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba addressing the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York in 1979. Photo: UN/Yutaka Nagata

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba addressing the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York in 1979. Photo: UN/Yutaka Nagata

Cuba and Vanuatu have been engaged seriously in more ways than just the training of ni-Vanuatu doctors to keep ni-Vanuatu healthy. The death of the Cuba’s premier statesman, Fidel Castro, and his assistance during the independence struggles of Vanuatu have been acknowledged by Vanuatu’s former PM Barak Sope as the news of the Cuban leader’s passing is heard around the world. Sope and Castro were indeed friends back in the 1970s, and Cuba’s support for Vanuatu at the UN Decolonisation Committee was greatly appreciated here. Anyone going to the Vila Central Hospital is these days still impressed at Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking news: Motion of no confidence fails

The agenda item concerning the Motion of No Confidence in the Government of PM Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas did not even obtain a full hearing this afternoon in the Vanuatu Parliament. Everyone was there, a further 8 withdrew their signatures, but the Speaker ruled the matter could be taken no further when all there seemed to be was bickering from the supporters of the Motion. We the public were not given a single reason to reduce our confidence in the leader of the Government, nor was our trust in him diminished. But the Opposition wasted an hour of everyone’s time trying to get a chance to bring him down. The motion ended up in the poubelle.

The second extraordinary sitting was closed.

Will Vanuatu have its House divided, only a day after Unity Day?

Vanuatu Parliament split

The irony of Unity Day being celebrated just a day before Parliament votes on a motion to oust a PM who got elected with the votes of 45 MPs out of 52 just nine months ago is highlighted by Jane Joshua in this morning’s Daily Post. Radios will be on across the country at 2 this afternoon as Parliament sits. It is only a month since now ousted GJP MP William Tasso told Daily Post that all Government backbenchers will not vote for any Government Bill unless the Ministerial Budget Committee reconsiders the rejection of Read the rest of this entry »

Vanuatu joins ranks of 105 other nations with Right to Information laws

right to information vanuatu

The story of the week last week – most certainly for the press – was the passing of the “historic” Right to Information (RTI) Bill – very much “a step in the right direction”. Government must tell us what it is doing. And by treating all information as open by default it underscores the government serving the people principle. There will be information officers in every ministry, department or agency who must supply the needs of the serious inquirer, even though the process will sometimes appear tedious. Many people have worked for a long time on the policy which went into the provision of the Act. The Media Association of Vanuatu was appreciative, even the Read the rest of this entry »

Non-compliant offshore financial centre puts other Vanuatu businesses at risk – but costs of compliance are high

Money laundering Vanuatu

Between Vt1.8B—Vt4.5B in proceeds of foreign crimes are laundered through Vanuatu’s offshore financial system every year, it is estimated. The non-implementation of checks against money laundering by Vanuatu’s offshore financial centre may prevent other Vanuatu small businesses from accessing foreign currency transactions – but Vanuatu lacks the resources to put the checks in place.

Vanuatu, accused of inaction over money laundering, is facing international sanctions as its politicians debate whether to spend government funds to fix the country’s financial services or to deal with disaster reconstruction.

Vanuatu, home to 270,000 people, has a 25-year-old offshore financial centre offering banking and company-creation services that provide well-paid employment in its capital, Port Vila. For the disaster-prone nation, the financial sector is a crucial part of its economy, contributing between two and three percentage points to gross domestic product.

In September the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental group that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, warned of “strategic deficiencies in Vanuatu’s anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism system.”

The group called for an action plan including Read the rest of this entry »