Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 November 2012

The shock horror news of today is the former political adviser in the Ministry of Health being awarded a VT 3 million health consultant contract as qualified and experienced health practitioners are being retrenched. Daily Post reports his fee is higher than any ni-Vanuatu doctor’s salary. Joemelson Arnhambath Joseph formerly worked in Snoopy’s Stationery and as Chairman of the Citizenship Commission when that office became embroiled in controversy. From evidence before the various Phocea court cases, Arnhambath acted as middleman for the citizenship of the two ‘debt collectors’ in the employ of Vu Anh Quan Saken, obtaining their citizenships in contravention to the Citizenship Act and in (possibly) record time. The Government has not laid any charges in this matter. Arnhambath served under his brother-in-law, former Minister Willie Reuben, as political adviser, and his new 12-month contract was signed by the now removed DG of Health, Maturine Carlot Tary. Arnhambath will “ensure human resource workforce remunerations and grading per per the revised health structure are carried out  in timely manner and ample time”, whatever that means.

Daily Post also highlights the visit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) DG, Pascal Lamy. He will have kava today with DPM and Minister for Trade Ham Lini, before departing tomorrow. Trade Director Sumbe Antas told Daily Post the brief visit is in relation to the almost deadlocked Doha Round of talks and the ministerial meeting of the WTO in Bali next month. The Vanuatu Council of Churches and other organisations are hoping a mission promised to assess the relevance of the WTO to the aspirations of the people of Vanuatu will still take place here, after a strong campaign against the WTO accession.

Radio Vanuatu says the next Congress of the Vanua’aku Pati will take place in 2013. VP President Edward Natapei said the meeting will be in the first week of the May school holidays.  The delay is due to the provincial elections taking place on January 8.

Transparency International Vanuatu’s page in today’s Daily Post reports the Public Service is withdrawing the suspension against Land Director Jean-Marc Pierre one year after he was suspended on full pay for disciplinary matters. DG Joe Ligo has, TIV says, “astonishingly…withdrawn the complaint and charges.” Joe Ligo was never able to clearly explain the suspension even when interviewed in the matter by TIV.

Equally unclear to TIV is the unpaid debt owed by PM Sato Kilman to the Vanuatu Government. Lands DG Ligo tried to explain the debt as a matter for the Public Service Commission rather than Lands. One law for the PM, another law for the rest of us, apparently. However, when the issue came up during the 2008 election, interim orders were issued by the Chief Justice which, it is understood, lost their applicability four years ago. They were ordered for the 2008 election only.