Vanuatu daily news digest | 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Government has made it clear to the Fishermen’s Association leadership that it – government – is not legally obliged to settle the billion vatu claim of the fishermen. If the Association insists on a return to court over the claim, the offer of a goodwill payment based upon left-over funds at the end of the 2014 financial year can no longer apply. Fishermen had arrived in the capital from many islands to receive cash their leadership promised for the festive season, as previously at Independence. The government had already made the "goodwill" offer and this reporter is aware of Prime Minister Natuman himself explaining it to a fisherman. The Association President has since backed down over his insistence on a return to court.

Lack of discipline in the uniformed forces has resulted in claims of mistreatment over the holiday period. A former Commissioner’s son was brutally treated by an allegedly drunken police officer, Daily Post reports. This writer is aware of a former DG and present businessman being roughly treated, along with a volunteer, during this period in which discipline seems to be largely failing. It appeared to be necessary to have the head of the Police Service Commission, and subsequently reported as the leader of the VMF, Job Esau, as Commissioner of Police for reasons not entirely clear. The previous definitive Commissioner, Arthur Caulton, now dismissed, is taking his case of wrongful suspension to court. Serious questions remain as to why the dismissal on top of the suspension should have taken place this week.

The use of the RVS Tukoro to transport aid items like water tanks to Tafea Province was defended by Care International against political claims it should have been available to bring an illegal immigrant, arrived in the Torres, to the capital.

Daily Post reports UNELCO CEO Yves Morault claiming all the copra produced on Efate would be sufficient to power UNELCO generators for Port Vila and Efate electricity. As a result the company is beginning to buy dry Efate coconuts for 3 vatu each. The mechanization for husking and removing coconut flesh at Tagabe has so improved that high quality oil will be produced at the power generation site. UNELCO is determined to move to 100% biofuel renewable energy for Port Vila, Malekula and Tanna, Morault said.

The Big Sista ferry company has obtained a restraining order against the Port Vila Municipality. The Town Hall sought a cessation of Big Sista berthing at the sea wall behind the market in Port Vila because of the works intended on the forty year old structure.

Chinese Ambassador Xi Bohua has praised the working together of the Chinese and ni-Vanuatu labour on the Convention Centre project in a New Year message. The main body of work has been completed and the final stage will be undertaken in August. He also referred to the road construction project on Tanna and Luganville wharf extension, along with the Malapoa College renewal works and stadium construction for the 2017 Pacific Mini Games.

President Baldwin Lonsdale has been urging a new vision for Vanuatu in his New Year greetings: a new vision for the New Year 2015.