Vanuatu kava export shipment returned from NZ due to contamination with impurities

kava shell

Happy new year to all our readers and welcome to 2017!

Vanuatu’s regional leadership of kava production and export has been dealt a blow with news this week of a shipment of adulterated kava being returned from New Zealand. Vanuatu’s primacy in the industry began with the recognition of Vanuatu as the original site of domestication of kava, the large number of noble kava varieties established here, and 2002’s Kava Act designed to protect consumers from poor quality kava. In 2016 Vanuatu was given responsibility for the FAO’s Codex Alimentarius research into the crop. Vanuatu’s main export competitor, Fiji, only established similar kava consumer protection legislation last year, and has many fewer noble varieties.

Over 600kg of dried, ground kava in a container exported by JPO Kava Export was returned from New Zealand as adulterated, reports Daily Post. Director of Vanuatu Biosecurity Dept Timothy Tumukon says the shipment looked to be mixed with ‘makas’—bark and root residue added to increase the Read the rest of this entry »

Its Pacific cyclone season – please sign this petition and help save lifesaving shortwave radio to our islands

Animated satellite images taken from March 13 2015. Photo: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The ABC’s shortwave radio broadcasts helped many in Vanuatu during Cyclone Pam in 2015.

As you read this, a cyclone is forming east of Vanuatu. As people in Vanuatu are well aware, up-to-date information is critical when preparing for a natural disaster.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the Pacific cyclone season, Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, says it will end shortwave radio broadcasts to the Pacific Islands by 31st January.

This decision puts lives at risk in Vanuatu and the rest of the Pacific. The ABC’s shortwave service provide lifesaving information during cyclones and other disasters as well as playing an important role in ensuring media freedom. Here in Vanuatu, during Cyclone Pam in 2015, ABC shortwave broadcasts helped people outside of the range of FM radio and cellular phone towers keep up to date with cyclone warnings. The service undoubtedly helped ni-Vanuatu people prepare and may have even saved lives.

The Pacific Freedom Forum has organised a petition to let decision-makers in Australia know how vital the ABC’s shortwave radio services are for us in the Pacific. Will you please help?

Please click this link to sign the petition.

Thank you.

Breaking news: Motion of no confidence withdrawn due to lack of numbers

The motion of no confidence against the Government of PM Charlot Salwai has been withdrawn by Deputy Opposition Leader Sato Kilman, who conceded that the Opposition didn’t have the numbers to proceed. Today’s attempt at a motion of no confidence is the second this month to have failed. The Government’s position was never in doubt as they maintained a majority of 31 MPs.

The repeated failure of the Opposition’s censure motions will now give ammunition to Government’s legislative attempts to stabilise Vanuatu’s political life by restricting the number and timing of parliamentary censure motions.

Austria offers Vt 107.3 million for rural electrification project on two islands

solar panels

At a signing ceremony on the margins of the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and  Water Management and the Ministry of Climate Change of Vanuatu signed a funding agreement amounting to Vt 107.3 million (US$1 million) to electrify rural areas. Read the rest of this entry »

Non-compliant offshore financial centre puts other Vanuatu businesses at risk – but costs of compliance are high

Money laundering Vanuatu

Between Vt1.8B—Vt4.5B in proceeds of foreign crimes are laundered through Vanuatu’s offshore financial system every year, it is estimated. The non-implementation of checks against money laundering by Vanuatu’s offshore financial centre may prevent other Vanuatu small businesses from accessing foreign currency transactions – but Vanuatu lacks the resources to put the checks in place.

Vanuatu, accused of inaction over money laundering, is facing international sanctions as its politicians debate whether to spend government funds to fix the country’s financial services or to deal with disaster reconstruction.

Vanuatu, home to 270,000 people, has a 25-year-old offshore financial centre offering banking and company-creation services that provide well-paid employment in its capital, Port Vila. For the disaster-prone nation, the financial sector is a crucial part of its economy, contributing between two and three percentage points to gross domestic product.

In September the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental group that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, warned of “strategic deficiencies in Vanuatu’s anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism system.”

The group called for an action plan including Read the rest of this entry »

Stunning short film inspired by Vanuatu melds poetry, cinema and message of kindness

‘My Son’, a new short film inspired by and filmed in Vanuatu, is a moving note from a mother to her unborn child. It mixes poetry with amazing imagery shot (mostly) on location in Vanuatu – and carries with it a strong message of tolerance, humanity and kindness.

Directed and co-produced by Germain Lalot and written and co-produced by Claire Endress, with a voiceover in english and french captions. Enjoy it on Vimeo.

Australia announces new High Commissioner to Vanuatu

Australia's newly-appointed Head of Mission in Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin. Photo: GPE/Creative Commons

Australia’s newly-appointed High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin. Photo: GPE/Creative Commons

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced the appointment of Ms Jenny Da Rin as the new Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu.

As a former Assistant Director General of the Australia Government’s now defunct international development agency, AusAID, the development challenges Vanuatu faces will be familiar territory for Ms Da Rin. AusAID was merged with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2013.

Ms. Da Rin will be responsible for managing Australia’s bilateral relationship with Vanuatu, which is substantial. Australia provides more than 50% of tourists to Vanuatu, and in 2015, Australian businesses invested Vt8.9 billion in the country. Australia is also Vanuatu’s largest bilateral donor, contributing Vt4.85 billion in development assistance during the last financial year. Australia also gave just under Vt4 billion in recovery assistance after Cyclone Pam devastated the country in 2015.

Ms Da Rin replaces the outgoing High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer, and will be taking up her post as head of mission in Port Vila in January 2017.