Vanuatu daily news digest | 18 November 2013

Minister Crowby is today pleased to point out to Daily Post readers that revenue raised by Internal Affairs has exceeded by half what was expected. This, it is suggested, owes something to the RSE employment scheme which has seen many workers spend months in New Zealand, now extended to Australia, with ni-Vanuatu working on rural production.

Daily Post today questions government concerning its present help from former billionaire and previously declared bankrupt Stefan Mandel for the Hong Kong based Vanuatu Registry Services company. This company is concerned with the granting of Vanuatu residence, especially to Asian investors, which will lead to immigration and secure huge funding at negligible cost to government. An Ombudsman report of 2001 was highly critical of the generous financial assistance or gifts in kind Mandel made to civil servants Roy Mickey Joy, Howard Aru and Emil Mael when Mandel was interested in acquiring 80,000 hectares of Big Bay, Santo, land for a free trade zone. All three persons were key to Mandel’s project being accepted. Bribery was alleged, along with a gift of USD 150.000 for UMP political party of Serge Vohor and Willie Jimmy. Incompetence on the part of Prosecutions, among other matters, saw no follow-up and politicians Vohor and Jimmy were re-elected as the civil servants continued to be employed. The ombudsman report detailing the lengths Mandel and Mondragon were prepared to go to can be found on website, the registry of Pacific judgements for all countries. The report questions whether Mandel is wanting to resume his free trade zone activities over the 80,000 hectares. Even he must accept there is a limit to the number of Chinese shops needed at Big Bay.

Youth leadership was much in the news of Radio Vanuatu over the weekend and this morning, with the introduction of national youth awards and a call for all youth groups to register in order to be able to access funds for community projects. The Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC) is their governing body, whether the grouping is church or community based, and a code of ethics is being adopted to ensure they work correctly. The main aim is to take young people, their objectives and ideas into account in planning, to give them a voice in national and local matters.

Allegations of a sexual nature concerning police minding a young woman in custody a week ago were also in the news. The Commissioner promised a full inquiry into the matter.

Maxime Carlot Korman has denied that he and his party have any intention to join the Vanuatu Republican Party as alleged by toktok going round. The Vanuatu Democratic Party will work closely with today’s government in establishing its road-map, Korman said. Never-the-less, VRP’s Matthew Leingkone maintained that a reconciliation would go ahead as planned.