Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 August 2014

The Vanuatu daily news digest is almost back on course again, my health being largely restored and new premises re-organised. Today and tomorrow I shall try to bring you all the important stories which got missed during the last week. For a start the best news of all…

On the first ever visit by a Vanuatu Prime Minister to the MSG Headquarters at Independence Park, Port Vila, PM Joe Natuman told the officials "We are welcoming the representatives of all the pro-Independence organisations of West Papua to Vanuatu this month for them to dialogue and give us some confidence that we can speak to a united West Papua independence movement. That is our part aimed to help with a position in maintaining an active engagement in collective diplomacy for the rights to self-determination of our peoples as espoused in the guiding principles by the MSG Founding Fathers." Well done. Like the Vanuatu Founding Fathers. Natuman is moving ahead with adroit political integrity: not for him putting the issues on a 100-day too hard list. He spoke of "keeping our Melanesian cultural values, and adding knowledge to them can only reinforce our beliefs in ourselves." How true.

Alan Nafuki, chairman of the West Papua Unification Committee, says 51 persons will attend the Port Vila meeting, 27-30 August. His committee provides the venue and the agenda will be drawn up by the West Papuan visitors and those resident here.

Also in the Really Good News department was the announcement of a Vanuatu Government collaboration with a Fiji property owner and VNPF financing to build an apartment complex to be used by regional students housed near the Laucala Bay Campus of the University of the South Pacific. The VNPF still needs to visit the areas involved to discuss options involved with the property owner and with Vanuatu’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Nikenike Vurobaravu. Suva has presented huge student accommodation problems and this solution appears able to assist both the region and Vanuatu.

19 ni-Vanuatu will study in China next year.

The Vanuaaku Pati will hold its 38th Congress at the Lycée in Port Vila from 24 – 27 August. This is an election year for the party and is widely expected to see a change in the party presidency.

Further to the news concerning re-negotiation of the terms of the CIIP program, it seems the main financial beneficiary in this business is not the Vanuatu Government (providing the residential opportunity) but the company Vanuatu Registry Services based in Hong Kong. The latter is alleged to enjoy twice the financial rewards provided to Vanuatu, the country which offers the service.

Some two governments ago, Forari mini-township was on the books. Nomoa nao. Government is surrendering the leases to the custom owners. Besides, it would not have been very nice being almost straight on the approach or take-off of most planes from Rentabau Airport, fortunately off the plans now.

Litzlitz Wharf has also gone back to its custom owners. They claim the Malampa Provincial Council was not honouring the agreement.

National Coordinator of the Customary Land Management Office Alicta Vuti has 50 cases to be heard under the new Customary Land Management Act. Provinces, he says, are still sending lists of lands cases pending under the old legislation. However, "we will be releasing all confirmed data to all CLOs and people should check with their province’s Coordinator.

VT 287 million was the total of the supplementary budget passed by Parliament, I daresay you already heard. Apparently we are paying a total of VT 100 million for the wretched ACP-EU Parliamentary meeting in November, even though we funded a new conference centre for them last year and another is still being built: we thought for this year. But VT 100 million is still needed.

I’m sure I mentioned two excellent appointments recently made. However, in case not … Kanam Wilson is Chairman of the Public Service Commission. Johnson Naviti is the new Director General in the Prime Minister’s Office.

North Ambrym seems set to receive its new – but long awaited – airport soon. Starting 1994, land disputes seem always to have got in the way. Until 10 July when a meeting at the Olal community hall seems to have resolved outstanding issues. Land owners are agreed the work can go ahead.

The Golden Egg poultry farm on the Devil’s Point Road is causing further irritation to residents adjacent who since 2006 have been insisting of an Environment Impact Assessment and not getting one. The stink is terrible.

MP Morkin Stevens Yatika has withdrawn bribery claims he made against the Opposition, allegedly trying to have him join their ranks.

The presence of cocaine in Vanuatu has been suggested by more than one newspaper in the last week. Further proof is still required.

Wealthy investor Ronan Harvey (he of the Santo shooting incident captured on his CCTV) is pulling out of Vanuatu after being arrested at Nambawan Cafe. He is taking his 5 million dollar investment elsewhere.

It was good to learn of visits from Rick and Martina Frazer at Independence. Rick created the national logo. Also present here a week ago were Joe and Cathy Mulders.

More tomorrow.