New category of ni-Vanuatu citizenship introduced by Government – for US$130,000 per application

Vanuatu passport

A new Vanuatu citizenship category has been created by Government called the Development Support Program. DSP replaces the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Program (VERP). Applicants deposit a non-refundable US$130,000 (Vt 14 million) to cover the applicant and family members. Applicants are also required to pay  US$2,000 (Vt 215,000) for a report from the Financial Intelligence Unit. The strong point of the new DSP plan is in having the Citizenship Commission appoint Vila based designated agents who will check on the Financial Intelligence Unit screening of the individual concerned and make recommendations to the Citizenship Commission. This will avoid the sort of situation we have seen where persons of unsuitable character and professional quality continue to hold important positions. VERP ceases at the end of this month. (Daily Post)

Biscochoc’s take over of the Metenesel Estate for the bargain price of Vt 100 a hectare per year is being challenged in the courts. This is where Biscochoc would manufacture their organic chocolate. Kastom owners understandably want a more attractive rental figure and claim they should have been consulted. They also state that Howard Aru’s chairmanship of Metenesel Estates, when he is no longer Director General of the Dept of Agriculture renders his role out of order. In Daily Post today, the spokesman of the kastom owners who signed the lease agreement to Metenesel in 2016 says the custom landowners have filed a stay order on any further cocoa development in order to try to have the government reconsider the lease agreement which got the business up and running with the Commonwealth Development Corporation in 1983. Spokesman Wesley Obed says the owners recognise Biscochoc as a genuine investor “but our dispute centres on the existing agreement which will be heard in court on February 23.” If this simply means sustaining the status quo, he adds, it will mean the new investor will have the 500 hectare property for just Vt 170,000. “In my view the government should work for the benefit of the landowners because it is their land, not this Vt 100,” he adds.

A Board Member of Metenesel Cocoa Estates says that the Vt100 a hectare rental will be increased. This follows the significant coverage given to the issue already. The Biscochoc director and a team will be arriving next week and members are aware of the stay order they face on 23 February, as is Biscochoc, the company. (Daily Post)

Another interesting Malekula story in today’s Daily Post has the remote South West Bay village of Lamah getting its first water supply ever, funding obtained by Graon mo Jastis (GJP) Party MP John Sala. The MP was praised for keeping to his campaign promise.

Radio Vanuatu News today has details of the ships bring purchased by the JPO Kava Import / Export Company’s businesses. The 33 year old businessman, Ogden, says he is hoping to have most provinces serviced by his company. A further vessel, his third, will be acquired by the end of this year.

The JPO Kava Export Company blames a Samoan for the “return” of the kava shipment to New Zealand which was alleged to contain illegal additives to increase weight and therefore the value of the consignment. This story will be continued in due course. (Radio Vanuatu)

February 13 is the start of the school year. Teachers are expected to be at their schools two weeks before the start date. The Education Director Roy Obed is appealing to school authorities to ensure school clean-up activities have taken place by the start date. (Radio Vanuatu)