Port Vila residents without fresh produce as vendors close markets to protest fee hike

Port Vila's main market house: closed until further notice. File photo: Wikimedia Commons

Port Vila’s main market house: closed until further notice. File photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s a protest which will certainly be noticed. Port Vila’s market vendors have shut down all urban markets in protest against the annual vendor fee going up by Vt 2,000 to Vt 12,000. Even the tiny peri-urban markets such as at the Korman roundabout. The extra fees are intended to finance changes to improve the main market in town for Read the rest of this entry »

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March planned to support West Papua’s full membership of MSG; Virgin Australia likely to resume Port Vila flights

West Papuans in Jayapura yesterday protesting for full membership of MSG. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

Soon to be joined by protests in Port Vila: West Papuans in Jayapura yesterday protesting for full membership of MSG. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

Friday 29 April will see a demonstration march through town, from Fatumauru Bay to the MSG Secretariat at Independence Park. It will be a civil society event, Chairman of the West Papua Assn., Pastor Allan Nafuki, told Daily Post. The peaceful demonstration is to demand the MSG Leaders give full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to the people of West Papua in the Leaders’ summit planned for 3rd May here, hosted by the Vanuatu Government. This follows mass demonstrations in cities and towns across West Papua in support of West Papua’s full membership of MSG, and in opposition to Indonesia’s attempts through Fiji and PNG to gain membership.

The people of West Papua want full membership of MSG. Photo: Supplied

Some of the protestors in Jayapura yesterday. Photo: Supplied

This banner at yesterday's Jayapura protest makes the West Papuan's demands clear. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

This banner at yesterday’s Jayapura protest makes the West Papuan’s demands clear. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 21 December 2012

Total chaos rules at the Ministry of Health. Minister of Health Don Ken has suspended his new Director General of Health Howard Aru, replacing him with Dr Graham Patas, who was terminated last Tuesday for incompetence and is also likely to face criminal charges over death threats he made to Health Department staff, including to former Vila Central Hospital administrator Dr Willie Tokon. These moves follow the dubious recruitment practices of former DG Maturine Carlot Tary and her gift of a VT 3 million ‘Workforce Development Consultancy’ contract to former political adviser, Joemelson Arnambath. Insiders say the Minister wanted Aru out for a number of reasons, however Minister Ken’s actions are in total breach of Public Service laws, irrespective of directors-general contracts having recently become political appointments.

The situation is truly alarming when there are significant health problems in Vanuatu. For example, diarrhoea has become widespread amongst children. The public demands better health care, without political interference and cronyism. Our health is far more important than your petty politics. The full story is covered in today’s Daily Post. Radio Vanuatu was yesterday told by the First PA in the Ministry, Ishmael Williams, that only the Minister could explain Aru’s suspension, yet the Minister failed to oblige at all yesterday. The Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Holi Simon, for his part, said he had not been officially informed of Aru’s suspension, and that under the new DG contracts, only the Prime Minister has the right to recruit and deal with any DG employment matters.

While on health matters, we note that Port Vila Municipal Council has not collected rubbish in a number of weeks. The central business district stinks of rotting waste, especially at the Central Market, where most Vila residents purchase their produce. With the current warm, humid weather and a more than usual numbers of people in the area for Christmas shopping, all of the ingredients for a serious disease outbreak. This appalling lack of public sanitation may already be responsible for the outbreak of diarhoea in children. This is of course entirely preventable, if the PVMC and Shefa Province market management could just manage to get off their backsides and do their job.

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Carlot granted bail in Phocea case; Literacy rate for Shefa Province just 27.6%

The Magistrates’ Court has released Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot and his private secretary Matai Kalwatman on bail. The Magistrates’ Court sat yesterday to look into a new application, Radio Vanuatu News reported this morning, and the Prosecution said there are eight defendants in the case including two Ministers, Carlot and Marcellino Pipite. Read the rest of this entry »


Website alleges fraudulent activity within VNPF

The website Talemaot has published certain serious allegations against the Vanuatu National Provident Fund, saying members are worried over how their funds are spent. The salary of the general manager, at VT 700,000 a month, and human resources director, at over VT 500,000 a month, are the first points of complaint given by Radio Vanuatu News. And then are mentioned investment policies. The first is the Bouffa Plantation land purchased for a subdivision for blocks for fund members which subsequently became a farm, planned by a government employed relative of the general manager. Then there is the Nasama Resort at Pango. The tendering process is questioned, it being built by the former vice-chairman of the VNPF whose workmen are not registered with the VNPF said this morning’s bulletin. VNPF management would not provide answers to Talemaot and would seem to be short on communication with members, too.

Daily Post leads with “teachers not backing down” over the issue of “salary justification”. These are the teachers who originally met at the Lycée Louis Antoine de Bougainville recently under the chairmanship of Mr Iati Bergmans who was subsequently suspended for holding such a meeting. This news site feels the teachers themselves would do well to improve their information service to the media, giving more detail of both their salaries and the issue of those who have been unpaid for some years. Both matters are of utmost importance. Teachers feel that their union, the VTU, has not properly served their interests and are holding another meeting today at the Chiefs’ Nakamal at 4 pm.

The Labour Party says the government must again consult the Labour Act Cap.160 concerning the minimum wage in the country, in view of the forthcoming government planned increase. It made the radio statement on the heels of the government announcing an increase, anyway. The high cost of living was mentioned, especially fuel. However, the story rather gave the impression of further electoral campaigning as do governments’ efforts in this regard before every election.

A pre-campaign move of enormous intelligence comes from MP Ralph Regenvanu’s Graon mo Jastis Pati. It is requiring all Graon mo Jastis candidates to contribute 25% of their MP allocation into education. A much better educated Vanuatu and government are quite clearly essential before our fourth decade.

A letter in the Daily Post points out the nonsensical attitude of government in expecting the WTO to fix Vanuatu’s kava problems. It won’t. It can’t. We have to get kava on the codex alimentarius list of safe foods of the FAO. And as we were told when the Europeans were here, and told by the Germans themselves, we have to write to them about their ban to get it lifted. And instead of continually poncing around Europe complaining, it would be good we write that letter, have it printed and print the response. Kava farmers could then know something useful was finally being done. And what about closer, non-European markets such as Australia and China?

Councillors in the reinstated Port Vila Municipal Council have reported dissatisfaction with the political alliances of certain of their colleagues following Prime Minister Sato Kilman seeing a need to reflect the national coalition in the council. Townspeople would prefer their dissatisfaction be directed to the state of the last few hundred metres of the wharf road.

The Vanuatu Disabled Society is conducting a study of the needs for wheelchairs, crutches and other aids required by rural and urban disabled people. Motivation Australia is helping them in the undertaking which is going to Craig Cove and Luganville as well as Vila.

Chiefs of central Pentecost are said to be insisting on compensation for the life of escaped prisoner Moses Kilton before his burial.


Vanuatu signs up to World Intellectual Property Organisation treaty

Vanuatu has now signed the World Intellectual Property Organisation treaty (WIPO) under which member states (most of the world) agree to pay each other’s publication, broadcast and production fees and performance rights. They must offer the same terms and conditions as they receive. Daily Post reports the Vanuatu Registrar of Intellectual Property, Merilyn Leona Temakon, attending the conference on protection of audiovisual performance in Beijing, 20–26 June, and presenting Vanuatu’s acceptance. This signing means Vanuatu can no longer legally sell pirate IT material, nor rent pirate videos and broadcasting stations will have to pay huge (for us) royalties on all music of overseas artists, amongst many other things. The article does not tell us this. It does, however, say that the same protection is afforded ni-Vanuatu performers. Our escape clause is the fact that the WTO Bill had expired by the time it was signed last month.

Port Vila’s new mayor, in his first major speech, promises that he will make a full and audited financial report of the allegedly bankrupt council of the capital. Mayor Reuben Olul says it will cover “all past years until the present.” The highly criticised and long time suspended council will also advertise all its positions from town clerk downwards and make a considerable effort to ensure it delivers the services townspeople want.

The Tourism Department is intending to improve Port Vila’s portside precincts (Star and Main Wharves and the Seafront) and is seeking options for the development of the areas, because of the huge contribution tourism makes to the economy. New Zealand will assist their endeavours. There is certainly room for development near the main wharf. However, most readers of this blog will be extremely opposed to the present (because of its land sales record) – or any other successor government – selling off any more public land. Post and Radio Vanuatu have both carried news of the moves to improve the areas.

The prime minister’s party, People’s Progressive Party, will field 27 candidates in the country’s upcoming October elections. Party secretary general Willie Lop confirmed with Radio Vanuatu News that the Congress chose the candidates at the Mele Congress last week. The present party executive will, however, stay for a further year because of shortness of time before the election.

At the PPP Congress, Daily Post reports, outgoing PM Sato Kilman gave his main priorities. They will be the public service, getting rid of the ‘politics as usual’ attitude of political leaders and growing the economy.