Partnership with China’s HNA Tourism Group to boost tourism numbers from China, says Govt

Vanuatu Government and HNA Tourism signs strategic partnership. Photo: supplied

Vanuatu Government representatives including PM Salwai and FM Leingkon and HNA Tourism Group sign the strategic partnership yesterday. Photo: supplied

Yesterday we reported PM Salwai signing a Strategic Operation Agreement with a Chinese tourism group. This relationship is said to be Read the rest of this entry »

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Vanuatu opens new Hong Kong consulate to strengthen commercial, diplomatic ties

Vanuatu's new Hong Kong consulate is intended to help build commercial ties between Vanuatu and Hong Kong

Vanuatu’s new Hong Kong consulate is intended to help build commercial ties between Vanuatu and Hong Kong. Photo: supplied

Vanuatu consulate opens in Hong Kong. PM Salwai was in Hong Kong for the event, together with Foreign Minister Leingkon and Vanuatu’s new Consul General, Andrew Leong. The three Vanuatu personalities jointly cut the ribbon for the opening of the consulate.

The Vanuatu Permanent Residence Programme was launched in Hong Kong in 2011, and Minister Leingkon said the success of the program is Read the rest of this entry »


Govt coalition parties agree that expenditures must be reviewed before new taxation measures can be considered

File picture of PM Charlot Salwai (L) and Agriculture Minister Matai Seremaiah. Photo: Moses Stevens

File picture of PM Charlot Salwai (L) and Agriculture Minister Matai Seremaiah. Photo: Moses Stevens

Agriculture Minister Matai Seremaiah has elaborated on the Leaders Party of Vanuatu’s stand on income tax. He agreed it was a government initiative, but added that communities still had to be consulted and the process of involving the people had not gone very far yet. He said “after some consultations it is apparent most of our supporters are hesitant about the income tax policy.” He added “our position is the government should wait for the Expenditure Review Report to come out and see where government can save money, cut down on unnecessary expenditures and also look at policies that will make doing business in Vanuatu easier before we decide on the future of income tax.” Minister Seremaiah said he spoke with PM Salwai Read the rest of this entry »


Supreme Court’s Constitutional case judgement due next Wednesday

File picture of the Vanuatu Supreme Court. Photo: TIV

The Supreme Court will sit next Wednesday to complete the constitutional claims of the 14 ex-MPs in prison for bribery. Former MPs are also giving evidence in the case and Tuesday next week the State Law Office will file its submission in the matter. Judge David Chetwynd will sit at 9am on Wednesday before giving his decision in the constitutional case. Former Public Prosecutor John William Timakata is one appearing on behalf of the SLO. (Radio Vanuatu and Daily Post)

Following an announcement in Daily Post earlier this month pointing out that the kastom owners of Bouffa/Bellevue have had only three premiums paid on the 1,200 leases of their 6,020ha of land from the USP Emalus area to the Teouma River, the kastom owning families are beginning planning with Government a town which will rival Port Vila Read the rest of this entry »


7.0 earthquake hits off Malekula; West Papua supporters march on MSG Secretariat

Supporters of West Papua full membership of MSG were out iin force in Port Vila this morning. Photo: AWPA

Supporters of West Papua full membership of MSG were out in force in Port Vila this morning. Photo: AWPA

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West Papua’s Morning Star flags were on prominent dislay this morning in Port Vila. Photo: Makereta Komai

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A new generation of activists for West Papua marching this morning. Photo: AWPA

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 February 2013

Last year over 600 people from China or Hong Kong people achieved special investor status and now do not need a work permit to work in Vanuatu, Port Vila MP Ralph Regenvanu points out on VBTC News this morning. He questions the set-up of the Hong Kong Permanent Residence Visa scheme by VFSC and VIPA. If such people are awarded permanent residence status by Government, says Regenvanu, they could enter Vanuatu to work in shops and on building sites as they won’t need a work permit for any category of employment. Employment in stores and on building sites has previously been reserved for ni-Vanuatu. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Toara Daniel, signed an order in January permitting such work-permit-free employment, and backdated it by more than a year. MP Regenvanu questions why, when the Hong Kong Investment Programme was launched by the Government, was it was not explained that anyone could come and work in Vanuatu, said Regenvanu? The DG of Internal Affairs, George Bogiri (who we thought had been asked to resign by his Minister) said the program was set up because the Prime Minister wanted to raise more revenue due to an expected budgetary shortfall. “What do you really want?” Regenvanu asks the Government. “Are you trying to give a legitimacy to foreigners who have been working against the labour laws since 2011? What about work for ni-Vanuatu who have a legal priority?”

Australian organised crime figure Mick Gatto has been linked to Port Vila online betting agency BetJack, reported the Australian media over the weekend. Gatto is known in Australia as the inspiration for a character in a hit TV series about Melbourne’s criminal underworld, Underbelly. He was charged with the suspected murder of a hitman in 2004 but was acquitted. More background about his recent tax troubles here and here, and his attempts at public relations here. Gatto denies any involvement in BetJack, though as the story we linked to yesterday points out, the secrecy provisions of Vanuatu’s tax haven make Gatto’s claim impossible to verify.

While on the topic of Vanuatu’s tax haven and the kind of people it attracts, from New Zealand comes word of some new arrivals to Port Vila who have skipped out on their NZ tax obligations. “After leaving behind a string of collapsed businesses which owe nearly [NZ]$2.5 million to the New Zealand taxman”, says the New Zealand Herald, Ross Harold Fitches and Christine Angela Fitches appear to have escaped to Port Vila. The couple are on a NZ Govt list of people who are banned from running a company there. We wonder if the Fitches have made any application to VIPA, and if so, if VIPA is aware of their background.

Ten scholarship holders for the University of New Caledonia were refused permission to continue their studies this year when they turned up at the Scholarships Office on 28 January, Daily Post reveals this morning in information from the Vanuatu Anti-Corruption Commission (VACC). The students’ names had already appeared on the list of successful students following 2012 exams. The list, however, was modified by the Minister. VACC sees this as a “direct interference” in their studies and future prospects.

Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu heavyweight killed by sting in the tail

No, nothing to do with this week’s news… some light entertainment for a change.

From the world capital of weird television, Japan, comes this gem — Bug Fights! Round 21: Vanuatu Giant Centipede vs Deathstalker Scorpion. Taf taf taf!