EU provides Vt 1.5 billion to aid fight against gender inequality and violence

The fight against gender inequality and violence in our region gets a Vt 1.5 billion boost. File photo: Creative Commons/DFAT

The fight against gender inequality and violence in our region gets a Vt 1.5 billion boost. File photo: Creative Commons/DFAT

The European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat have signed a financial agreement to fight gender inequality and gender violence in the Pacific. Over US$15 million (Vt 1.5 billion) has been allocated for the task. It will support programs for all the island countries including Vanuatu, which currently has no female political representation. Pacific leaders meeting this week in Apia, Samoa spoke of the social and economic cost to the region of gender inequality and acknowledged the need to work together to fight the problem.

Certified organic PRV Plantations on Malekula have purchased and plan to use 150,000 coconut seedlings for the first virgin coconut oil factory in the country. Vt 60 million worth of new machinery has been purchased and Vt 3 million has enabled power to be supplied to the factory. And once it is up and running, copra suppliers will not longer need to smoke or sun dry their copra for supply to the factory. David Russet, owner of the plantation company, has signed a contract to supply virgin coconut oil for 12 months for US$4,000 a ton (Vt 410,000). PRV plans to replace all the coconuts on the 1,500 hectares plantations at a hundred hectares a year. Agriculture Minister Matai Seremiah recently visited PRV plantations with Russet who also explained PRV’s future plans. There have been ‘cattle under coconuts’ (the ideal plantation in the ‘Seventies). As old trees are cut down (and David Russet has a market for timber fence posts) cattle can be moved on to the buffalo grass which is their standard pasture.

A visiting paediatric team has praised the standard of treatment provided by local professionals at Vila Base Hospital and Northern Provincial Hospital. Professor Spencer Beasley, a paediatric surgeon from New Zealand, who has been visiting Vanuatu for eight years to assist in the operations on babies and children, singled out doctors Basil Leodoro and Ricky Mera for their professionalism. Working with the visitors, the local doctors have achieved significant surgical successes. The New Zealand team was funded by the Australian Government in a shared partnership arrangement.

The President of Malampa Province says Norsup Airport is ready for its planned expansion. The only obstacle had been a land ownership dispute that necessitated the Government’s seizure of the 18 hectares recently. President Nugbem presented a petition in the matter to recently visiting ministers Lini and Maoh. Minister Seremiah was similarly pressed on the issue. Land disputes have been solved by the conflicting parties, President Nugbem assured the visiting Ministers.

Finance Minister Pikioune has appointed a Regulatory Task Force to ensure positive efforts on the part of those investigating the weaknesses in the operations of the VNPF which resulted in a Commission of Inquiry. The RTF is chaired by Reserve Bank Governor Simeon Athy and co-chaired by Finance DG Letlet August. Minister Pikioune told the appointed task force that theirs is an important task not only for safekeeping savings of the VNPF membership, but also because the VNPF is a major player in the financial system.