Govt 60% behind in school fee payments; UMP commits to coalition; bribery allegation on Epi

Anita Roberts reveals in Daily Post today that the government has only covered 40% of Term 2 school fees (tuition) promised to the Education Services. The remaining 60% of Term 2 and all of Term 3 continue outstanding. These fees were to be covered (in stated islands) by government, as a result of the destructive cyclone which hit Vanuatu a year ago. Not yet. As the Digest now often demands, a comprehensive audit of government financial standing is required when we are being told by the Caretaker PM the country ended the year 2015 with the biggest fiscal surplus ever.

UMP is said to be committed to assist in forming a government when Parliament meets next week, RNZI reports. However, the question of their own leadership continues to get in the way as it did at election time, with their President in gaol — Serge Vohor. UMP’s national executive seems to have other ideas. GJP leader and re-elected MP Ralph Regenvanu, a prime mover in the negotiations on government formation, in speaking to RNZI, was illuminating on this score. He said “unfortunately it seems there is some effort by some parties, particularly people in the UMP and working with people in jail to try and make [the bribery case having run its course] an issue of the new government so that there’s all sorts of rumours of government being formed to pardon them and that kind of thing. But I hope that doesn’t have any more substance than just rumours.”

Radio Vanuatu has led its news today with allegations of bribery in one constituency, Epi, through gift giving. Building materials were given away. Another person from Tanna has the electoral roll as a continuing problem because of names there, Tanna, so often being shared between a father and son. The Electoral Commission is still able to receive both allegations and advice and is extremely cooperative.

Transparency Vanuatu’s Chairman Dr Willie Tokon in Daily Post today congratulates the new MPs astutely observing that “as a result of the political integrity crisis that Vanuatu experienced last year the people have spoken.” They have re-elected some former MPs, and they have elected many new MPs. This is a sign that the people want a change for the better.”

Daily Post today carries an excellent piece by Nikunj Soni “Flying into the abyss?” which makes clear that what is essential at Bauerfield costs neither an arm nor a leg. It was originally published on pacificpolicy.org.