Vanuatu daily news digest | 19 September, 2014

Interesting bulletins this morning … beginning with the Presidential Election and concentrating on the cost of the election, albeit with a certain amount of speculation on the result from both Post and VBTC. Neither matter. Conjectures will be driven by sources considered reliable (friends) by the journalist. However, the cost ensures a democratic procedure, and it also provides for our being able to witness that process at work. Nobody can complain later. The sitting continues this afternoon at 2 o’clock.

The Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Post reports, has attacked an article in the Vanuatu Times (sorry, we missed it and will now make sure we get Times every week) entitled "CIIP Secrets: The Untold Story". This is particularly interesting and the VFSC Commissioner confirms to us that the private company Vanuatu Registry Services (VRS) based in Hong Kong is the VFSC Deputy Commissioner, appointed in 2008. VFSC indeed tells us this. VRS is a company not registered here, as various investigations have shown, and "sponsoring" the present lottery offering luxury island homes on land at Santo. And that company is working as Deputy Commissioner of our state owned enterprise (SoE). This is very interesting and has prompted a group of journalists – who come in for a fair bit of flack from the VFSC Commissioner – to request an Ombudsman’s Report. An investigation into how such a company could have been appointed to operate a scheme or "new product" (CIIP) which "the government devised in 2012", and then proposed itself (that same company) to government as the exclusive operator of the scheme (with tenders?), in the same year, surely needs examining. That the company also holds a position on the executive board of the SoE which appointed it really does need more amplification. As does using foreign companies as board members.

The Minister of Lands is negotiating with the Registrar of the Supreme Court over the evacuation of over 300 people from the area known as Destination near the airport (Bauerfield) at Tagabe. Minister Regenvanu said the government is aware of the court order, but wants to find an alternative place for re-settlement first of all, Radio Vanuatu News reported this morning. There are additional reasons important to consider before implementation of the order, the Minister said.

The Vanuatu Government will be sponsoring the West Papua Conference to the extent of VT 5 million. This shows remembrance of its own struggles to be free of colonialism and sympathy towards other peoples who seem to have been tricked in the de-colonisation process.