Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 12 April 2015

UPDATE FROM PM’S OFFICE – RELIEF EFFORT

Quick Summary of Key Messages from last Friday’s (10 April) press conference, Plus extra that was not covered:

a GJP summation of the press conference, and a good one …

-Vanuatu government is fully committed to recovery efforts and will continue to extend State of Emergency for as long as possible, including VAT and duty exemptions.
– A big thank you to all donor partners – bilateral and multilateral and NGOs for helping Vanuatu in the relief efforts.
-Lessons have been learnt from the first roll out of the relief assistance…The second roll out is happening this week and government will be using more civil servants to do distribution work in islands. A lot of distribution in the islands will be from nakamal to nakamal to avoid unfairness in distribution.
– In the first round, as was expected, there were lots of complaints over distribution because of lack of proper data/statistics and politics getting in the way of some areas. Many of these areas, including our ever-present logistical challenges, are being ironed out and the second roll out should see more improvements.
-Government alone has so far spent just over Vt209 million from its 2015 budget to purchase rations and ferry them to people affected.
– Note that this is being done most probably for the first time. No other governments have done this in the past as we have depended largely on outside assistance for relief supplies.
– The total value of the Vanuatu contribution could be safely estimated at well over Vt600 million if you include government salaries paid to civil servants since March 13th, 1 million each to 52 MPs, Plus VAT and duty exemptions.
– Government is making available through Reserve Bank a Vt500 million facility that private sector can access through commercial banks at not more 5% interest rate to help them rebuild their businesses. This money will be doubled if Banks find it useful and create a demand for it.
– It is the first time ever that a small country like Vanuatu has stepped up; centralised all coordination efforts through the NDMO to avoid duplication of efforts and make the best use of the large amount of aid that have been pouring in. No other country in the world has done it!
– Because of this brave effort, Vanuatu has won very high commendation from the international community.
– Total pledge received thus far is about USD15 million. The actual cash received is approx. USD 6 million. All that money is coming through our treasury department and will be fully accounted for.
– Govt wants to see more partners coming in with budgetary support.
– Most shelter kits given out in the first round not so useful as most people who have had their homes damaged no longer have the bush materials available to help them rebuild.
– Government through NDMO is requesting tents, instead of tarpaulins.
– PM Natuman who is also minister responsible for media made strong comments against sensationalist reporting by one of the local media. It appears they are peddling a political agenda on behalf of their masters.
– Government won’t tolerate it given that Vanuatu is going through a disaster.
– Government calls on everyone to continue to pull their efforts together, and with support of our generous donors Vanuatu can recover quicker.