Luganville Municipality ‘borrows’ Vt2.5M from local business owner

Daily Post leads today with the Luganville Municipality borrowing Vt 2.5 million from Chuan Store which was due to be returned the following week after Government paid the municipality property taxes going back to 1999 for the Vanuatu Maritime College. Daily Post points out that just eight days after the advance the municipality secured a court decision stopping building work on Chuan premises of 498 square metres when only 375 square metres had been approved. Chuan management understood they had an agreement to build according to the new plans “because of talks with the mayor.” Is this the tit-for-tat principle, one good turn deserving another? Or possibly something worse?

Meanwhile at Luganville we have George Borugu, the director of tourism, urging government to rebuild the NISCOL wharf to accommodate the 300 metre tourist ships expected from next year. One end of the wharf has collapsed. The New Zealand High Commission is working closely with the Vanuatu Government on tourism matters and feels the cost of rebuilding as required would run to half a million NZ dollars.

The Australian High Commission has contributed to the Paama disaster relief fund, following that island’s flooding and landslides in heavy rain last week. A barge is taking relief supplies to the island. Red Cross has organised a fundraiser for today, starting late afternoon at the Saralana Park. There is to be musical entertainment. World Vision and Save the Children have also significantly assisted this humanitarian cause.

The Malvatumauri, like the Vanuatu National Council of Women, has requested Lands Minister Regenvanu to organise the surrender of the Saralana lease and for separate titles to be issued to the national bodies concerned. Minister Regenvanu is to seek the advice of the first beneficiary, the Vanuatu National Cultural Council (which has had representation from all the beneficiary bodies) before giving a response.

The report on the fishermen’s wages and money now goes to the Council of Ministers (CoM) after yet another ceremonial handover, this time to the PM who will read it over the weekend. It’s to be hoped the fishermen will soon be told what is in it for them: if anything is left.