VNPF denies allegations of fraud; Education Ministry examining teacher pay

The Vanuatu National Provident Fund quite clearly has a credibility problem which will need to be urgently addressed. VNPF has denied the allegations made against them yesterday in Talemaot, Radio News reports. The chairman says all investment projects follow the procedures, along with recruitment and investment. The general public needs chapter and verse on this and the chairman’s statement will ring hollow until the details are provided. Where tenders are concerned, for example, the general public must be provided with the tender advertisement and details of the bids. The owners of the Provident Fund (the employed persons of Vanuatu) must not be fobbed off with “we did it all according to the rules.” This writer feels it fairly necessary the rule book be published and mighty quickly, so we can make sure they do. There are all sorts of would-be finance ministers who might see to suddenly accommodating rule changes were the members not looking, and we have an election not far away. At least, thank you for telling us what the chairman says, VBTC.

And also for telling us that the Ministry of Education is looking into the outstanding teachers’ pay and the question of service and hours of work of teaching professionals. Parliament is meant to look into the matter. It had better do so very quickly, and supplementary funds will need to be established and voted before the Parliament sends its members on their election campaigns. This one cannot be left outstanding at such a time.

Government launches eGovernment Network today is Daily Post‘s principal headline. Actually we thought it did it four years ago when there was much hooplah on the matter. Remember the ministerial house in Tassiriki with a container of electronic presents — such as mobile phones — outside? Was that not some four years ago? Today Prime Minister Sato Kilman refers to the “first ever E-Government project in the Pacific region” and a contract with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. This country is to receive a Government Broadband Network and Government Data Centre, migration of all government telephony to Voice over Internet (VOIP) and a switch from copper wire to fibre optic cable. Well, we have certainly been switching to the last for at least four years, now, so why do we need a new launch today? Elections?

Government is also launching the Vanuatu Trade Policy Framework today, something it should have had long before voting us into such a binding agreement as that which has joined us to the World Trade Organisation. At least the department of trade had the wisdom to bring the media into preliminary discussions yesterday and it is to be hoped that all media outlets will encourage certain journalists to become trade specialists, questioning as well as accepting what is served up by government. And especially at times like this, pre-election.

Fisheries are investigating the killing of a dugong on the southern end of Ifira. It was said the mammal was eating fish from nets to catch fish, but the creature is, of course, vegetarian. This item is nothing to do with the elections.

George Andrews of the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission tries to give an answer to coverage of the advertisement for Chinese permanent residents to come to Vanuatu. “If they want to invest they will have to apply to VIPA for approval, and if they want to work they will have to get a work permit from the Commissioner of Labour.” Why are we not asking people from Bangladesh and Nigeria to apply for permanent residency if we so need populating? So why, George, do we want presumably wealthier Chinese? Is it to fill the politicians’ pockets for their campaigns? I put again my question of the other day, “how does VFSC check the investor’s credentials?” Or, in other words, is that Chinese canton at Tagabe a retirement village for permanent residents?