Repairs to Port Vila’s Bauerfield airport runway begin

Finally under way – the contractors' truck on the tarmac at Bauerfield earlier this week

Finally under way – the contractors’ truck on the tarmac at Bauerfield earlier this week

This news just in from the Vanuatu Government’s Project Management Unit: Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Govt’s 100 Day Plan; Bribery MPs appeals quashed by Parole Board; tourists threatened

Port_Vila_aerial

Port Vila’s roads – planned upgrade now downgraded

Read the rest of this entry »


Bauerfield saga continues; new livestock policy; Port Vila Urban Development Project tender approved

Bauerfield

Of course there was yet another attempt to revive the Bauerfield Rehabilitation project as recently as last year. Yesterday I mentioned the 2011 efforts and the granting of Australian aid for the purpose arranged by the DG of MIPU. But of course in March last year when the Ausaid offer had lapsed because politicians kept changing the requirements, the World Bank was brought in. All ministries were in agreement, for the Vanuatu Aviation Investment Programme to be funded by the World Bank. $60 million of funding was secured. However, the Natuman Government, which had come to power with 33 votes of the 52 members, was thrown aside by the Kilman Government which then, in the midst of the bribery scandal, had decided that a Chinese contractor should undertake the work and it would be funded by the Chinese EXIM Bank. The debt was massively doubled by the Kilman Government decision. Thus do politicians look to interests other than the national ones and make problems for later governments. Daily Post highlights the complete airport rehabilitation story of failure today.

Daily Post and Radio Vanuatu both extensively cover the outgoing caretaker government’s launch of what is claimed to be the “first ever” livestock policy. Present Caretaker Minister Emelee recognized the efforts of his predecessor, David Tosul, in getting the policy going and expressed his confidence in the plan, so it does not seem to be a campaign strategy for the government we are to see next week. Livestock is important to the economy and could raise more export earnings. Read the rest of this entry »


Carcasses Government releases “100 Day” list

Here’s the full text of the Carcasses Government’s “100 Day List”, a list of policy objectives and directives for its first 100 days in government. [Can someone please remind the Prime Minister’s Office that the official name of the Republic of Vanuatu, in all official languages is VANUATU, not the abominable “Vanouatou”, which while perhaps phonetically correct for french speakers (this too is debatable), changing the name is completely unconstitutional.] But we digress… here’s a downloadable version of the 100 Days List (PDF, 1.2Mb), and here is the full text:

Port Vila, 10th April 2013

As Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, I, Honourable Moana Kalosil CARCASSES, hereby present the “100 Days List”, being a list of measures to be achieved and completed within the first 100 days of my government.

I expect all Ministries to comply with these directives.

PORTFOLIO CHANGES

  1. Removal of Civil Aviation Ministry and re-instatement of Ministry of Youth Development, Training & Sports
  2. Amalgamation of MOT and MNVB into new Ministry of Tourism and Commerce
  3. Creation of new Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Geohazards, Meteorology and Energy
  4. Reshuffling of some departments and responsibilities between Ministries for better service delivery

Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu PM Kilman resigns

The Vanuatu Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, has just resigned.

In an extraordinary move, following Kilman’s resignation, Parliamentary Speaker George Wells closed the sitting of Parliament and would not listen to the demands of the Opposition, after Opposition Leader Edward Natapei moved to have a new prime minister elected immediately, seconded by Ralph Regenvanu. The Speaker announced there would be an extra-ordinary sitting Friday next week. This is unlikely to be readily accepted by the majority ‘opposition’.

The Opposition in Parliament was standing by to take over government this afternoon following its motion of no confidence. The Government threatened to boycott, and had earlier today said it might need a Sunday sitting to advance the no confidence debate, however its Members were in attendance. There was a quorum. In another extraordinary move, Kilman Government Minister of Internal Affairs Toara Daniel crossed the floor to join the Opposition.

Radio Vanuatu News this morning indicated the determination of the Vanua’aku Pati and its allies to have West Papua join the Melanesian Spearhead Group as a full member, should they form a new government today. Opposition Leader Natapei told Radio Australia he would want Indonesia removed as an observer before July.

In other news today, Reserve Bank of Vanuatu Board member Tom Bayer has been removed. Finance Minister Charlot Salwai claims that Bayer has a conflict of interest as he is also an agent of private Vanuatu bank the European Bank, reports VBTC News. The Minister’s decision follows the Act governing the Reserve Bank. Former Finance Minister Carcasses appointed Bayer.

The sailing boat Phocea is ready to depart, and is currently refueling at Port Vila’s main wharf. The self-styled Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Guy Benard, says he expects Government will learn that compensation is required by the self-styled owner (or more likely lessee) of Phocea, because of Vanuatu government officials holding the vessel in a manner he sees as equivalent to ‘piracy’. Benard seems to be overlooking the Phocea’s series of fake registrations. Benard must have had similar feelings himself when he arrived in Port Vila, all those years ago, bearing elephant tusks.

 


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 daily news digest | 9 February 2013

Port Vila MP Willie Jimmy says he will appeal the striking out of his electoral petition against Prime Minister Sato Kilman, VBTC Radio News reports Jimmy saying at a press conference yesterday. He says the Electoral Commission has allowed an offence to go unheeded. Jimmy says that a debt to the state has been sanctioned in his constituency, and that he will appeal yesterday’s judgement. The radio news story did not say whether an appeal can be allowed in such a matter or if he has to submit a different case.

The Independent’s ‘smoking gun’ for its story last week on PM Kilman receiving USD200,000 from Pascal Anh Quan Saken is an email to that paper from Saken saying “Bro! Never! But I have sent lots of money to Madame Goiset, in order to pay the legal bills of mr PM sato kilman, during his fight against the motion of ‘non confidence’ in April; 2011!! Warm regards”. The email contains typos and grammatical errors similar to those found in other documents by Pascal Anh Quan Saken. The Independent also refers to a series of emails believed to have been sent from Brussels where Anh Quan claims he financed the restructuring of the Vanuatu Embassy there. Elsewhere he claims to have carried out this work after graduating from the Charles Henry Saken University at Pango. He wants to restructure the Vanuatu United Nations mission. He is working as a volunteer. More such fabrications are expected in the Phoceable future as the present Government continues to conceal a matter which has destroyed all of its credibility—making diplomats of dubious people with hidden agendas.

Meantime, The Independent has more news of Sakens falling out. Last year, ‘Mme. 15%’ Thi Tham Goiset was charged with forgery contrary to section 140 and uttering forged documents contrary to section 141 of the Penal Code Act. Both charges carry a penalty of up to 10 years behind bars. Furthermore, last year Mr Saken filed a criminal case against Mme. Goiset alleging the Vanuatu diplomat forged his signature so she could transfer the ownership of a vehicle belonging to Anh Quan to herself. An Independent newspaper investigation finds that this criminal case is still pending at the State Prosecutor’s Office. And now MP Robert Bohn Jr. of Vanuatu Maritime Services Ltd says the owner of the Phocea has contacted them to ask for registration of the Phocea on the Vanuatu Shipping Registry, Bohn says on the front page of today’s Daily Post. Might VMS Ltd advise the Commissioner of Police on the identity of the owner in order to assist lawyer Less John Napuati with his prosecution ‘in rem’ of the vessel? This would help the Trans-National Crime Unit by clearing the name of the real owner and releasing further information about the illegal documentation (on which VMS Ltd must now be clear) which has bedevilled the Phocea since its arrival in Vanuatu.

Today’s Daily Post carries an interesting letter from the Santo Chamber of Commerce pointing out how nationally desirable it should be for any new airport to be built in Luganville rather than Port Vila. It makes no silly reference to 747s and points out how an airport could be built without having to depend on patronage-seeking investors.

Lastly, Daily Post also carries a full page story on George Bogiri and his conflict of interest in Pacific Migration Consultants, under the banner of Transparency International Vanuatu. Eagle-eyed readers will observe that it quotes extensively from the story we published on the matter, but attributes all quotes to the Daily Post. Bigfala shame, Daily Post and TIV—credit where credit is due, please.