Parliament to debate Budget next week; Minister warns VNPF on losing streak; Vila Wharf management plan ready

VNPF Building , Port Vila. Photo: Jean Van Jean

Parliament sits from Monday with just four Bills listed for discussion, the main one being the Appropriations for 2016. A supplementary provision for this year is also on the agenda along with an amendment to the Public Finance and Economic Management Act and another amendment to change the Representation of the People Act. Owing to likely transport and communications difficulties, MPs new and old will simply receive their documentation for the sitting from the office of the acting Clerk of Parliament on arrival over the weekend.

There are still election petitions to be heard after 2 have been struck out. The petition against Albert Williams’ election and that against the late Havo Molisale have been struck out. However, 12 other electoral petitions remain in order for adjudication. Five will be heard in April. These are the petitions of failed candidates Lulu Sakias, Xavier Emmanuel Harry, Dunstan Hilton, James Bule, and Richard Mera. Other petitions are then to follow. With the death of Nagriamel’s Havo Molisale soon after the elections, it is expected there will be 51 MPs in the House come Monday morning.

Radio Vanuatu’s top story today was 17 projects in which the VNPF has invested failing to make money for the fund (the Vanuatu National Provident Fund). Minister of Finance Gaetan Pikioune pointed this out on a familiarisation visit to the Fund and staff this week. The 17 projects might have made a big difference to fund revenue. Management must be better conducted the Minister stressed. “The VNPF must only concentrate on money-making businesses,” said Pikioune.

At last we have politicians pleading guilty of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice charges. This has been made clear in bulletins today concerning the conspiracy to pardon case in which eleven imprisoned politicians purportedly met to have Acting President Marcellino Pipite arrange pardons for himself and the other ten MPs because of his acting position. They are due to appear for trial on 4 April. It is said by VBTC News they are arranging a QC to take up their case.

After long months of negotiation, the Port Vila Wharf Traffic Management Plan is said by Daily Post to be only days away from completion. This is intended to bring private and public sector contributions to easing the crowding and chaos that often exists at the wharf on cruise ship days. Police and VMF involvement is important. There will be separate bus and taxi ranks and loading zones will be clearly marked.

Downer EDI Works has won the contract for the Bouffa Landfill septic treatment works. The Port Vila Urban Development Project funded by Australia and the Asian Development Bank will fund the Vt 89 million project. Few details have been given so far, but the project is definitely a first in this country.

Today’s Daily Post is certainly worth more than the cover price for Reserve Bank official Simon Tiwok’s call to strengthen the regulatory framework against money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing in Vanuatu. Both are frequently blots on tax-haven Vanuatu’s regulatory responsibilities. He wishes the government well in its stated intention to do just that. Tiwok is studying for a master’s in public policy at Victoria University, Wellington, and it is clear he is an expert in his field.