Vt 152 million discrepancy in Vanuatu National Provident Fund’s accounts reported

A Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) media briefing was yesterday told of the astonishing shortfall of Vt 152 million in the 2011 accounts of the VNPF. This was “due to over-allocation of funds to members,” Daily Post reports today. Daily Post attended a media briefing by an Australian volunteer, Ross Steel, recruited to help the VNPF.  Steel had drafted the amendment to the VNPF Act which was shelved by the Finance Minister Moana Carcasses when Government ran out of time to complete its legislative programme. Steel says the amendment will force the VNPF to act in the best interests of its members. This blog was questioned concerning the Vt 152 million loss figure back in mid-August when the situation concerning the VNPF was very tense. Our use of it is now justified. No explanation was given as to where the money went, or what sort of systematic failure caused this, or what measures are now in place to prevent this from occurring again.

VNPF management are still not being straight with us. The actual loss appears to be slightly higher, and their 2011 financials have now mysteriously vanished from their website. VNPF’s 2011 Annual report, previously available on their website, has been removed in the past few weeks. As we have reported previously, page 32 of this report shows a loss of  Vt 156 million for the general reserve account, which are the funds kept in reserve to pay out members’ entitlements. Why is this amount in the negative? Why did the VNPF’s auditor not pick up on this? VNPF members are entitled to full transparency and accountability, can you get that through your thick skulls, VNPF management?

Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau says former Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, head of the Graon mo Jastis Pati, has his facts wrong about the sale of Lelepa/Mangaliliu land. Kalsakau says he never signed any lease for the area. Hmmm. And as for green space public lands in town, he as Minister is the only one responsible for what is done with them. He is holding a press conference at 2pm today to be followed by a conference for the public, this afternoon at Club Vanuatu.

Vila Central Hospital has run out of contraceptive medicines. Why is the Ministry of Health repeatedly unable to place orders for supplies ahead of time? Are the staff responsible totally incompetent? If so, they should be removed from office and replaced with competent staff that actually care about the wellbeing of the citizens of Vanuatu. No doubt we’ll see a big rise in births in June 2013.

Police Commissioner Joshua Bong has been informed that his term of office ends at the end of this month by the Ministry for Internal Affairs. The Police Service Commission is ending his contract on the appointed date, 30 September, Radio Vanuatu News has reported. Acting Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton continues in charge of the force.

Ministry of Lands DG Joe Ligo has welcomed recent media criticism of Lands affairs, saying they give a “wake-up call” to the government technicians. He and departmental directors yesterday held a one-day meeting to review existing policies and strategies in relation to subdivisions, including road making.

Ligo also churlishly tried to shift the blame for Vanuatu’s poor strata title legislation to Australia, which is quite strange considering that the Strata Titles Act was passed in 2000 by the Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu, which last time we checked was the legislative chamber of review of a sovereign nation. How about accepting that the responsibility lies with the Vanuatu Government, Joe, instead of blaming someone else?

Given that the legislation was drafted by an private Australian lawyer for a private business in Vanuatu to be able to make a strata title development (the apartments on the ocean side of Irririki Resort), it should hardly be surprising that it doesn’t properly consider the rights of the customary landholders. Where then was the legislative oversight by Vanuatu’s parliamentarians? Ligo offered no comment on why Vanuatu’s Members of Parliament passed this piece of legislation, arguably detrimental to the interests of the majority of their constituents, without debate.