Vanuatu daily news digest | 18 May 2013

There was no digest yesterday owing to my inability to obtain the results of the Santo rural election petition in the Supreme Court at Luganville. It was scheduled for hearing Thursday and Friday, but apparently the 7 elected members (the Respondents – three of whom are ministers in the new government) were left with a "no case to answer" after the Petitioners’ legal representative, Mr Colin Leo, failed to appear. I had spent a lot of time trying to find how the Respondents must have voted at the change of government two months ago, anticipating what might happen with the next Motion. I will lose no more sleep over that. It’s pointless. It seems 6 parties are involved: no solidarity obvious there.

It is understood that the case against MP Kalvau Moli will proceed Monday and subsequent or additional criminal charges will be heard. There was again failure on the part of legal representation to attend on at least one day during this week. The case is said to involve Moli misappropriating NISCOL funds to pay electoral registration fees for Santo candidates last year.

The big story for today and this week is in Daily Post. It is the serious news from the VNPF audit. The media were given a fairly soft version of the facts a few months ago by the VNPF, but the overseas auditing firm of Ernst & Young Australia pointed to something altogether more serious: failure to follow due process with plantation purchases a new board decided were necessary in 2009 – not just one but three big properties: Milai, Ranche de Bouffa and Nasama. The main news is in Wednesday’s Post. There’s more today. The report states: The composition of the Board when these investment decisions were made in 2009 was different to the Board which approved the changes to VNPF in 2011 and to the Board at the date of the production of the report. So what will the Carcasses government decide to do?

The Finance Minister of the former government, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, bravely defended the VNPF status quo to a degree when promising the audit to a menacing crowd mid-last year. The report as in Post makes no mention of any disciplinary or criminal steps needing to be taken. And then there is the question of who bears the ultimate responsibility for our workers’ savings? How can something like this go on from 2009 to 2012? What is the new government doing about it? The public needs an explanation. At least in the 100 Day List there is provision for the Ernst & Young report to be published. We must insist on it.

Erickson Menar of Sola sees the government being very much interested in rural affairs now that PWD has in short order repaired Motalava’s road.

They also finished SW Bay airport reconstruction and the Lawa – Wintua road.