Vanuatu Govt backs down on PACER Plus, agrees to sign—with conditions

An aerial view of the newly launched VIla seafront beautifications. Photo: @EIF4LDCs/Twitter

An aerial view of the newly launched VIla seafront beautifications. Photo: @EIF4LDCs/Twitter

Vanuatu will be signing the PACER Plus Agreement with Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Apia this week. The Council of Ministers changed their minds on 30 August. The reversal comes with conditions: one is removing Australia’s restrictions on imports of Vanuatu kava. Another is visa-free entry to Australia and NZ for Vanuatu citizens. And Vanuatu insists both large countries must raise their development assistance levels to the island countries. The largest economies in the region, PNG and Fiji, are still refusing to sign up to PACER Plus.

Yesterday’s official opening of the Port Vila seafront beautification project was attended by leaders of all the Vanuatu communities, and especially by the people of Ifira. Chief Daniel Kalorib spoke on behalf of Chief Mantoi Kalsakau III, who could not be present, and said the new name for the area will be Veiawa Park, meaning a place for all visitors to come ashore. The revamped seafront gardens and promenades stretch from downtown Port Vila through to Fatumaru Bay. The Seafront stage is also being renovated.

Seasonal work recruiting agent John Salong has revealed to Daily Post that cash returns to the workers have brought almost Vt 1.3 billion into the country. By January this year 2,165 workers, bringing home on average Vt 600,000 each, had contributed the welcome sum to the Vanuatu economy.

The Supreme Court has declared Iririki Holdings Limited (IHL) insolvent. The decision was made in a case between Mocha Limited, trading as Vancorp Construction and being the claimants and IHL as defendants. An application by IHL to stay the appointment of a liquidator was dismissed. Roger Douglas Jenkins was appointed liquidator. IHL failed to rebut the statutory presumption that it is unable to pay its debts, relating to construction work and repair undertaken in 2015 and 2016.

Toktok Vanuatu 2017, the country’s premier tourism industry event, is taking place at Iririki despite the host hotelier’s financial problems. It is also being attended by Marie Wawa, star of the hit movie Tanna which has been so praised worldwide. Tourism companies and travel wholesalers from major tourism markets—including China—are present.