Opposition joins Govt against terrorism; Business call for VAT exemption following airport failure

Arms smuggling enabled by Vanuatu's tax haven: Thai security personnel surround the cargo plane loaded with smuggled weapons at Bangkok airport on December 12, 2009. Photo: ICIJ

Arms smuggling enabled by Vanuatu’s tax haven: Thai security personnel surround a cargo plane carrying smuggled weapons at Bangkok airport, December 12, 2009. Photo: ICIJ

Radio Vanuatu News reported it being good to hear the Leader of the Opposition praising the Prime Minister’s strong stand against terrorism as in Brussels, given last week in Parliament. Indeed, it was. Kalsakau was as determined as Salwai that “we must condemn terrorism everywhere, in all forms” leaving no room to think that the tax haven Opposition might leave the door open a little bit to certain kinds of “friend country or organisation” which the Government might oppose. Kalsakau also asked that the Education Minister ascertains that there has been no harm to Ni-Vanuatu students in Turkey where there have been several terrorist incidents. Vanuatu’s tax haven has in the past been implicated in arms smuggling, racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion, – we don’t need terrorism financing added to this list.

The block of 6 Independent Members of Parliament has made it known that it remains strongly loyal to the Government of Charlot Salwai. Efate Rural’s Jerry Kanas, said Edwin Macreveth (Santo Rural), has no intention of joining any motion against Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, as rumours are suggesting. Some Independents, like Macreveth and Ian Wilson, are joining the Vanuatu Leaders’ Party of Minister Jotham Napat. But with no intention of signing any motion.

The business community is requesting the Government to enable continuing VAT exemption in relation to the dramatically fallen number of long-term visiting tourists since TC Pam and the airport runway maintenance failures. The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry page in Daily Post today carries the news that the business community would like the period to include March to May this year. 124 business owners have signed a petition to extend the VAT exemption, available on VCCI’s website.

Recovery project documents with WASH (the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector) were this week signed for Shepherds, Tanna and peri-urban Port Vila. They have a total value of Vt 63 million. “Building back better” is the main idea of the scheme which hopes to see that piped water systems damaged in the cyclone, corrugated iron torn off and blown away, and polluted wells are not just repaired or replaced, but built better to to be more resilient water catchment areas in future, says Lands Minister Regenvanu. Foreign Affairs in New Zealand and Australia have been significantly helpful to the WASH projects and are much assisted by UNICEF and NGOs, whom the Minister praised.

The Luganville mayoral position and that of his deputy remain vacant following a judicial appeal.

Last, but not least, Moses Stevens has now been re-elected PINA President for the fourth consecutive term. The elections for the regional news association took place in Palau last week.