Vanuatu daily news digest | 18 June 2014

It was reported that last night, despite an excellent Chamber of Commerce accounting, under the Economic Well-being of Vanuatu heading, through the government Priority Action Agendas of recent years, locally grown still makes a lot of good sense. Disagreements over policy requirements and unhappiness over terms of employment with the long-standing commercial banks led to the birth of Vanuatu’s very own bank, the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV). What we can grow locally still meets with local approval, even if it’s a financial institution. And there is still a future for an agriculture bank, even with the changes seen by the government to be necessary in the existing such repository for agriculture profits we already have.

Today, social well-being was the main theme of the Public Forum for the National Sustainable Development Plan, 2016 – 2030. Bishop John Bosco began the addresses of the core groups with a clarion call for respect of the human person and its unique value in the environment in which it has been put – the community. He was speaking for the Vanuatu Christian Council. The Vanuatu National Council of Women’s Blandine Boulekone was then able to demand the Leadership Code be properly applied and the law relating to political parties finally put in place. Boulekone then drew attention to a MIPU (ministry of public works) policy document on women and employment which she insisted should be soon adopted by all ministries. She highlighted the cheap labour principles for many women presently accepted by employers and the failure of appropriate organisations presently to establish paternity of children born out of wedlock and their father’s responsibilities. "Mamas often do not have access to justice," Blandine Boulekone pointed out.

Shortly after the Boulekone comments on the need to reform the law relating to political parties, the deputy ministerial convenor of the public forum, Minister Ralph Regenvanu, was able to introduce the two international experts brought here by the government to hasten this process towards constitutional reform in a 2016 referendum. One is from the Solomons and the other from Canada. The core groups advising the public forum have already begun consultations with the legal and constitutional experts.

For the Disabled, Chiefs and NGOs there were interesting comments on social well-being and inequalities. The National Statistics Office was reported as rating 30% of housing in the capital as "poor" way back in 2006 and likely to be much worse today. The chiefs called for a National Population Policy. NGOs pointed out the many latter-day parental challenges with the adolescence of today’s youngsters. Most of the questions raised were in the order of "what have governments been doing about these serious issues?" The answer seems to be zilch. But Forum-goers seem to be delighted to at last have a voice provided by government and which does not depend on their MPs resident in the capital.