National carrier Air Vanuatu announces financial year profit

Today’s big news is Air Vanuatu announces a profit. Chairman Simeon Athy said a commitment had been made by the Board in 2009 to get the books in order and return the national carrier to profitability.

“Under the leadership of CEO Joseph Laloyer, we implemented a strict policy not to allow the national carrier to operate as a free-for-all”, said Athy. We, the public, can take this to mean the airline has now freed itself from political interference, with its latest Board now comprising senior civil service professionals. It has increased its passenger load and hopes to augment the domestic fleet, neither of were possible if misuse by politicians was allowed to continue.

Acting Ombudsman Alain Molgos has promised an investigation into the sale of Government land leases to civil servants by Caretaker Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau, Radio Vanuatu reports. They quote Radio New Zealand International, which said leases were being sold in the Independence Park area. This blog has previously mentioned Freswota and Korman leases for sale. The Council of Ministers in 2010 suspended the sale of Government and public land, but the Minister concerned has already been found responsible for other sales of land leases that belong to the people of Vanuatu.

The Vanua’aku Pati’s and Union of Moderate Parties’ ‘old guards’ have had their continued proprietorship of their respective parties confirmed. Appeals Court actions were mounted by breakaway factions of both parties to wrest power away from longtime leaders. But VP stalwart Edward Natapei has won against Harry Iauko, and Serge Vohor has won against Charlot Salwai in the UMP stoush. The court gave its judgements late yesterday and they were announced on VBTC Radio News last night.

Bank ANZ Vanuatu has lost an appeal court case in the Australian Federal Court. ANZ must hand over details for some 1,300 customer accounts to the Australian Taxation office. Daily Post says “Australian investors in Vanuatu  will not be happy” that their financial information is being passed to the Australian taxation authorities”. ANZ Bank took Federal Court action, saying it would be in breach of Vanuatu criminal law and put at risk the Bank’s licence to operate in Vanuatu. ANZ Vanuatu CEO Steve Rogers said the Bank will review the judgement and see “how best to meet  the legal and regulatory obligations of both jurisdictions”.

Yasur volcano on Tanna has experienced new eruptions from three separate vents, causing the alert to be raised to Level 2. New ash falls are affecting nearby villages and food gardens on the island.