Vanuatu daily news digest | 6 December 2014

Radio Vanuatu was yesterday first with the news that the Citizenship Commission had awarded 79 new applicants their citizenship status for Vanuatu. The news follows hard on the heels of some ten or a dozen previous winners of citizenship having theirs annulled owing to their failing to meet the conditions, or lodging fraudulent applications.

The Independent today has 36 people whose citizenship has been revoked facing deportation. There has been a legal challenge by one person. The Indy also states that a Corrections officer was involved in the escape recently of the two high risk prisoners, and says 24 people are being charged with themurders allegedly combatting witchcraft on Akam island. The Independent also sadly records the death of Kely Ihrig, an Australian accountant well-known to many in the business community in Port Vila, and to many journalist colleagues.

VBTC yesterday announced that the appointment of the Lands Ombudsman should take place next week. This is a new post which follows the various lands summits concerning land and recommendations which have emerged from them. Monday is the date for the appointment.

The weekend Daily Post carries well over a page of criticism of present management techniques at the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) from a former senior executive of the Fund. He directly attacks the present General Manager, especially over his needing to "use the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu to cease a VT 1.8 billion investment in Erangorango Estate (130 hectares) when the decision should have come from him in the first place." The former executive blames poor management of the Fund’s finances for the impossibility of the Fund to provide interest to members’ accounts on the 2013 figures. The submarine cable and Wilco are investments criticised. Other allegedly "non-performing investments" are mentioned.

Post today also records the first ever direct export of copra to the Philippines from south Malekula farmers. Copra and Cocoa Exporters (VCCE) used the company’s own wharf at Port Sandwich (or Lamap).Over a hundred metric tons were transported to the waiting cargo vessel from the wharf. VCCE is buying at VT 32,000 a ton.

Yesterday saw the launch of the Vanuatu Teachers’ Standard by Education Minister Bob Loughman. It deals with professional development, student learning working in collaborations with communities, and teachers as professionals. 32 standards are identified. Teachers College (VITE) Principal Jack Daniels Matariki said the standards are basically to improve students learning inside and outside the classroom. In Bislama, the text has required much dedicated and professional hard work of many, says Daily Post.

Epi now has issued its new customary land laws to protect the land of the indigenous people and to safeguard the rights of their custom owners. This would seem to have been done in conformity with the newly revised land leasing legislation. Post reports yesterday’s celebration hosted by the Tarpumamele Chairman, Peter Norman, in the presence of Shefa councillors and dignitaries. The law carefully distinguishes between owners and users and covers the laws of adoption, chiefly titles, customary land ownership, women’s rights and penalties for offences. Post reports Shefa SG Kalworai saying he felt the document was important in guaranteeing peace and unity in Epi villages. Kastom accompanied the launch.

Post also reports Westpac Banking Corporation as a major sponsor of the Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence.

And further VBTC reporting … not adequately covered during the last days … has Unelco electricity reaching Siviri village in their push to circle the island. It was said they hope to do this by 2020.

And there will be a new structure for the Health Department and Ministry before the end of the year to formalize permanent positions for the medical staff. Health DG Viran Tovu gave the assurance to those attending the graduation of eleven new nurses who had all achieved the Vanuatu diploma in nursing. The new structure is hoped to overcome difficulties experienced in recent years. The Nursing College is heavily assisted by Australian aid.

TVET and the Tourism Department announced they were pleased with the re-opening of the Craig Cove airport on Ambrym, the gateway to tourism related to Marum and Benbow volcanoes, this week. Radio Vanuatu covered the event.

And to end this resume of the main stories on VBTC missed in this Digest so far this week, MP Willie Jimmy praised the work of the donor partners at the time of the budget debate this week. They relieve the government of much of the burden of providing services, he said, and specified a number of them.