Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 30 September 2015

There is just one big news item today – the ongoing sales of Vanuatu honorary citizenship by the Pacific Resources Group (PRG) in Hong Kong. Daily Post says PRG was "set up by the former Government under the same Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, to generate much needed revenue in collaboration with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, to help the Vanuatu Government fund its development projects." VT 1.6 billion was raised under the Capital Investment Immigration Programme (CIIP) until this was stopped by the Natuman Government. The programme is now the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Programme (VERP) for which a Real Estate Option was signed into effect on 7 August by PM Kilman. The Secretary General of the Citizenship Commission says PRG acts as as the designated agent of the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission. Officials of PRG travel from Hong Kong to Vanuatu almost every month to provide over ten applications and on their most recent visit last week, they arrived with 14 applications for the Citizenship Commission," the Citizenship Secretary General told Daily Post in an exclusive interview. "The Prime Minister makes the recommendations to the Head of State who conveys honorary citizenship to the applicants," he added.

Yesterday, however, in Daily Post, we had history being made with the first major moves towards re-unification by the Vanua’aku Pati (VP), National United Party (NUP), Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP), a slab of RMC, Nagriamel, MPP, and the Hope Party. They are together endorsing the candidacy of Kenneth Natapei, son of the late and much respected Edward Nipake Natapei, for his father’s Port Vila seat in the by-election in a fortnight. Pastor Alan Nafuki pointed out to the large Sunday gathering at the Saralana stage that the Presbyterian Church had played an important role in Independence and was mandated to take such a stand again at the very recent PCV General Assembly at Erakor. Pastors and elders must help to ensure unity is a key issue by the national elections in 2016. A motion of the Erakor General Assembly re-inforces this, said Nafuki. Cautions against money coming in from Hong Kong were given by former PM Joe Natuman and former Lands Minister Regenvanu, both of whom are known to be opposed to the Real Estate Option for Citizenship. Regenvanu spoke of many MPs being anxious only for money for their own pockets, as in the alleged bribery cases, and of this being a crucial time for Vanuatu because of money recently received from Hong Kong. "Independence gave us our land back and achieved a unity which we must cherish," said Natuman. "And we must not let money coming in from Hong Kong change that."