Opposition boycotts Parliament after Govt introduces unscheduled URA bill

The Opposition boycotted Parliament yesterday because of Minister Moana Carcasses’ unscheduled introduction of a new Bill to amend the Utilities Regulatory Authority. The Bill was not on the original list and Minister Carcasses said he would move for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable its introduction. Members had not even seen the Bill at that stage, let alone discussed it with stakeholders or the Utilities Regulatory Authority (URA). The URA says that only the contentious interests of UNELCO and KuTH have been considered, Daily Post reports.

Early in the week, the Government achieved the right to report details of a loan to Parliament after the loan had been raised. This was through an amendment to the Public Finance and Economic Management Act. Amendments were sought in relation to financing the Port Vila wharf project, the inter-island shipping project and urban infrastructure matters. Santo MP Sela Molisa seriously questioned this interest of the Government in financing these projects three days only before the end of the life of the Parliament. MP Edward Natapei observed the amendment gives much room for misuse of funds.

Government is still addressing the issue of outstanding teachers’ salaries, Finance Minister Carcasses said in Parliament. However, supplementary provisions are no longer possible. Yet the ministries concerned are continuing discussions, Daily Post reports him saying.

Daily Post has further news involving Minister Carcasses reportedly requiring the State Law Office to pay Maison du Vanuatu the sum of Vt 18 million today when an earlier correspondence gives an amount of Vt 15 million. The Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board and Maison du Vanuatu have previously been in court over the manner in which Vanuatu kava was marketed in New Caledonia by Maison du Vanuatu. The newspaper is reliably informed the payment will not be made today.

The Government intention to have counting of votes for the elections proceeding through E-Gov and “live” was reported by VBTC Radio News this morning. Chief Information Officer Fred Samuel has been asked to make this possible.

The citizenship case involving the Samoan and Tongan on the mega-yacht Phocea is further delayed until Tuesday.

In a not very newsworthy morning for VBTC, “media responsibility” was preached by the Prime Minister’s Office which also had a very long letter to the editor in Daily Post. Richard Kaltongga of the Prime Minister’s Office concentrated on “untruths and selective reporting” by the media, but oddly gave no instances or examples of such reporting.