Vanuatu daily news digest | 28 November 2014

Daily Post reports more than VT 500 million going in to new government policy initiatives for 2015. Almost VT 300 million will be used to retire current government workers and pay out those who have retired. In the budget speech, Finance Minister Simelum promised nearly VT 180 million for growing the economy and concentrating on tourism, lands and agriculture. VT 115 million will go towards health and education, youth and sports.

PNG Peter O’Neil is chartering a plane to bring nearly a hundred West Papuan delegates to the Chiefs’ Nakamal for the international forum on the future for West Papua. A church service organized by the VCC will take place at Saralana at 2 on Sunday. Monday, the Unity Day holiday this year as declared by State House, is also the 53rd anniversary of the first raising of the Morning Star Flag as the emblem of the liberated West Papua. A march of those supporting West Papuan independence will take place from Fatumauru Bay to Saralana at 11 on Monday.

Radio Vanuatu News today has concentrated on statements made by parliamentarians, beginning with the Prime Minister pointing out that people of this country were stateless until Independence. "We were stateless and lacked an identity and we fought for our independence to have a citizenship." He was explaining the dual citizenship status created last year. The same bulletin carried Lands Minister Regenvanu addressing changes to strata title registration and how existing title holders, whilst expatriates, would have their leases protected.

Daily Post reports on the original ni-Vanuatu inhabitants of La Colline village at Second Lagoon being ordered to move out owing to a Supreme Court order of 2010 in favour of Westpac Bank (holding the lease under instruction from the estate of the late Henri Ochida of Laho Limited). The continuing inhabitants of the village are said to have no lawful right to remain there. However, the late Chief Waea Tenene asked the founders of the village to tend gardens there for additional produce for the village before Independence. Subsequently custom owners claimed ownership of the village in order to sub-divide and lease the land. However, an earlier judgement of the Island Court in 1994 establishes a different custom ownership which at that time was said to be undisputed. However, another custom ownership was declared at the end of that year and that one differs from the present alleged ownership. Whomsoever should become the investor trying to sub-divide, Westpac is requiring the inhabitants to leave the village by 4 on Monday. They do not wish to go.

A constitutional case was filed by the 16 Opposition MPs who were suspended from Parliament Tuesday. They wanted the case heard this morning so, they say, they can participate in the Motion of No Confidence against Prime Minister Natuman at 3 this afternoon.

Transparency Vanuatu’s Chairman sees the appointment of a foreign Public Prosecutor as "a way forward to reducing preferential treatment" in today’s Transparency page. "He should be neutral in his work," Dr Tokon said.