Vanuatu daily news digest | We can move on from Scamfield

This free news service will not be available for a few days but when it resumes all news omitted will be covered.

We can now move on from Scamfield … possibly the Oceanic hemisphere’s largest scam in the region’s premier tax haven …

But luckily since Vanuatu Trade Development Pte Ltd was never registered in Vanuatu no penalties can be provided against Government for failure to honour the Concession Agreement.

The Natuman Prime Ministerial press release says it all:

Following the decision by parliament on Thursday July 31 to abandon the multi-million dollar Greenfield airport project, there have been much discussions by members of the public regarding the decision.

The government wishes to make its stand clear that the decision by parliament, as the ultimate decision and law-making body, should be respected and accepted as it is.

The reason for the decision by parliament is simple: the potential costs and risks far outweigh the benefits.

In addition, as highlighted by the Ad-Hoc Committee Report presented to parliament, the agreement was highly in the favour of the concessionaries, rather than the government and the people of Vanuatu.

[Indeed the consultant's report makes it clear the signed Agreement by the previous government obligated the Government mightily and gave no rights at all to the Government. Ed.]

“Since my government came to power, I have made it clear that I will review some of these major undertakings.

“This is exactly what we have done with the airport project.

“That does not mean my government does not support the idea of a new airport. It is however, not our immediate concern.

Our immediate concern is the Bauerfield airport. The government will need to find funds immediately to repair the runway and apron in order for it to continue to serve our tourism industry for the next foreseeable future.

“Only when we have done this, will we move ahead with any new airport project plans based on a proper Aviation Master Plan, which was one of the recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee,” Prime Minister Natuman said.

In response to accusations that senior public servants and technocrats who guided the negotiations might have wrongly advised the government of the day, Prime Minister Natuman said this was no time to be pointing fingers, although he accepts that the burden of responsibility laid heavily on the leaders of the day at the time of signing.

“Now that parliament, has endorsed the recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee, we need to respect it and move forward in one accord,” said Natuman.

The government will be issuing further directions on how to proceed further in the coming days.