Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 December 2012

Opposition leader Edward Natapei answers MP Robert Bohn Jr.’s accusations in Daily Post that the Opposition is the cause of instability by pointing out that Bohn signed an MOU with the Sato Kilman bloc, then held discussions with the Opposition, then formed a bloc (‘Cloud Zero’) with Independent MP Richard Namel “so that whoever got into government, the ‘Cloud Zero’ bloc would be in government.” Bohn at least admits the Opposition “captured the moral high ground”, even if he chose not to meet it there.

Bohn also apologises to his Epi constituency for his inability to provide an upgrade to the Burumba clinic there because expenses related to the motion of no confidence cost the country vt500,000, he said. Natapei points out that most of this sum of money has not been paid, anyway. The Opposition Leader also reminds us of the appalling state of the country’s finances, as detailed in the Motion. With some teachers still unpaid, the 2012 budget remains in disarray and there is no Parliament-approved budget for 2013. The situation is not unusual in Vanuatu. When Parliament does not sit for a Budget before the end of the year, the law provides for what is called a “supply bill”. This allows for three months of appropriation (January to March). The appropriation is based on the previous year’s budget, and does not need the approval of Parliament. This was quite common in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Vanuatu had political uncertainty. So, basic Government services should continue — to the extent they are currently actually being delivered. Whether or not this brings joy to the people of Burumba depends on what might have been decided for them by the Kilman Government. Both Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post this weekend carry the Opposition Leader’s comments on Robert Bohn’s opinion piece.

In other events, Daily Post has carries news of three regional developments which may assist Vanuatu. A new data-driven process to crackdown on illegal tuna fishing could save the Pacific a billion dollars. The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)’s and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)’s ‘Kurukuru 2012’ was the region’s biggest-ever surveillance operation, involving five maritime patrol aircraft, 12 patrol boats, a frigate and a Coast Guard vessel. Begun under the European Union-funded Devfish 2 project, it is simplifying the intelligence gathering of surveillance teams.

Also in the Daily Post, the Ombudsman’s office advises of the Pacific Ombudsman Alliance assisting member countries to realise principles of good leadership. Activities are currently being planned for 2013.

And the leadership of the regional co-ordinating committee for kava exports has gone to Vanuatu, after being stalled for eight years under the direction of Tonga. Hundreds of years ago, the Tongans came to Vanuatu for their kava. Good to see leadership on kava returning to Vanuatu.