Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 15 April 2015

Ending the summary of last week’s news which failed to make this news blog on time … Well, your editor failed to make it on time.

Seven have been arrested in relation to the death of Richard Simbolo: premeditated intentional homicide is the charge.

Parliament is likely to sit in the third week of May.

Irregularities found by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proliferate. Some nine Air Vanuatu staff receive monthly salaries of VT 800.000 whilst the majority receive VT 30.000 to VT 40.000. The PAC Chairman said "the hottest session to date was with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commissioner, George Andrews, who said he produced no reports for five years because the Commission was "testing a new style of reporting." The PAC saw this as inappropriate. Andrews receives VT 600.000 a month, his deputy VT 400.000. Andrews alleges the VFSC dual citizenship program with China earned the Government VT 1 billion, the VFSC $US 970.000. The PAC is still hoping to find out where that money has gone, understood by many to be a Caribbean tax haven.

Air Vanuatu and Fiji Airways have signed a code-share agreement. This will see seven flights a week between the two countries,

Two ni-Vanuatu were confirmed dead, and one missing, in a Russian trawler accident off Kamchatka.

The Port Vila Urban Development will not be delayed by the ravages of cyclone Pam, the project to restore urban drainage and sanitation.

The Vanuatu Society for Disabled People reported the total destruction of the disability centre, Avenue Colardeau, with cyclone Pam. Assistance is being sought from NGOs. Activities are presently being run from premises in Nambatri.

The Anglican Church is donating VT 1 million to the National Disaster Management Office in its continuing relief efforts.

The Suzanne Bastien Foundation has organised an exhibition to assist rehabilitation of Pango schools.

Cyclone Pam demonstrated the "resilience" of ni-Vanuatu people the Vila Times issue of last weekend stated. Many foreign aid workers agreed. The Independent, on the other hand, highlighted the grizzles of North Efate chiefs as regards aid delivery. The paper was censured by the Government PRO. More senior Nguna / Pele chiefs later (today) apologised for the unkind remarks of their wantoks.

Saturday’s Daily Post carried a "Shoulder to Shoulder" appreciation of the manner in which ni-Vanuatu were quickly trying to restore the country to its pre-Pam state and to pull together to help those most in need. Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer pointed out Australia’sreadiness to support the Vanuatu Government’s response to the immediate needs of its people.

New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts, in today’s Radio Vanuatu news, saw the ANZAC spirit very much alive and well in the way Australia and New Zealand have been able to work together in providing cyclone relief.

And the Prime Minister at the weekend paid a tribute to everyone concerned with relief: "On behalf of the government … our big thank you firstly to the people of Vanuatu who can quickly take charge of the situation to return to normalcy as much as possible, particularly cleaning streets, houses, yards, offices that have been damaged, to the chiefs, community leaders, church leaders who organised the people to work … We wish to say a big thank you to our development partners, traditional development partners such as France, Australia and new Zealand. Also to our MSG brothers and other Asian countries.."