Vanuatu daily news digest | 21 June 2014

Your editor is today trying to bring you all of the stories of major importance of the last week whilst the National Sustainable Development public forum kept him busy. There will be errors and omissions – for which apologies..

Saturday last week saw the opening salvo fired by BJ Skane in efforts against having Star Wharf used by Chinese long-line fishing boats for their catch to go to Blacksands fish factory by way of Port Vila, and the inter-island shipping moved to lovely Ifira Point, it seems, when fishing vessels are in the harbour. No-one has seen necessary to do an EIA. And of course there will be tourist vessels and long lines of buses and taxis in the way of the unloading copra vessels and cargo loading ships at the point all the while. The tourists will thrill to their first whiff of dead and dying fish as they enter our lovely capital. Whatever happened to RAPT (Residents Against Processing Tuna in Port Vila) spearheaded by the Independent all those years ago to keep large-scale fishing out of the CBD?

The Independent was more interested a week ago in finding my campaign against a 747 airport as "opposed to any form of development" and "small minded." Robert Bohn MP says the Natuman Government is looking at possible partners for the Vanuatu Trade Development Private Limited in this undertaking with the contraband cigarette company directors, Rock, whose idea it was. One supposes he would have to say something whilst the report to Parliament of his committee is awaited. Bohn does not seem constrained to mention the possibility of any tendering process for such a huge public funding commitment. His 13 June report seems now likely to be heard on 14 July according to today’s Daily Post.

That Independent did, however, carry the news of the week already mentioned in this blog. Minister Regenvanu feels a number of issues in relationship to the land rental increases have not been carried out properly by government. "There are outstanding issues relating to the land re-valuation process and dating back some years which must be rectified," said the Minister. As such the rental increase, of which people were already informed, was cancelled. However Regenvanu states that a review will still have to take place. It is indeed provided for by laws which have improperly been neglected.

Daily Post today carries the full story of how some 30 Lands officers who were enabled to purchase some 30 pieces of state land at bargain prices under a form of thievery dreamed up by former lands ministers.

The Local Authorities Association of Vanuatu (LAAV) has been meeting during the week, their forum opened by Minister Charlot Salwai. The Minister praised Shefa for its initiatives with the Marobe Market venture which was also of interest to the National Sustainable Development forum in various ways.

By Monday the week’s news was back to crime and the death of a young man whose body was found at Fatumauru Bay. Several men are being held in custody. Another body was subsequently found at Tongariki and believed to be a case of murder. In an un-related matter, two Chinese fraudsters were deported.

Some 21 new citizens were granted dual citizenship this week.

The barmiest news of the week: a body called the Vanuatu Tour Operators’ Association (VTOA) has criticized Post and its publisher Neil-Jones for pointing out the present low visitor arrival figures. Only VTOA eyes are meant to see them.