Seven public servants have won recognition for special efforts in “striving for excellence in the Public Service.” The winners are: Janelle Johnson (Finance), Levu Antfalo Boaz (Meteorology), Jenifer James (Early Childhood Care Education, Ministry of Education and Training), Camillia Garae (Geology), Solip Nato (PWD), Julie Rereman (Labour) and Lionel Kaluat (also Labour). Prime Minister Salwai congratulated the winners at a ceremony yesterday to mark the achievement along with Public Service Commission Chairman Martin Mahe. He encouraged all public servants to strive for excellence. Each winner received Vt Read the rest of this entry »
The trial frozen albacore tuna off-loading at the Main Wharf took place last Friday without mishap. All media have been reporting the event at which Prime Minister Salwai presided. Henceforth, with the assistance of US surveillance vessels, the Vanuatu Government is committed to the unloading of all Vanuatu-flagged fishing vessels’ fish catches from the Vanuatu Exclusive Economic Zone in Port Vila. Fisheries Minister Matai Seremaiah assisted the PM at the first unloading and many officials were on hand to witness the process. The unloaded fish were quickly removed to the Sino-Van fish packing plant at Blacksands. An American company, Bumblebee, is also discussing a fish canning operation for Vanuatu. Consuming more Vanuatu fish in Vanuatu is likely to reduce the incidence of NCDs as the Food Festival at Tagabe, 9 to 11 November, will make clear.
Daily Post reports the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) Board has suspended the VIPA CEO, Dr Andrina Thomas, without Read the rest of this entry »
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.
Nepotism must be rife within the VNPF, Daily Post claims this morning. Although why exactly this is significant when the same problem afflicts every public sector body in Vanuatu is not explained. However, seemingly well-documented allegations concerning management of the “people’s only retirement fund” come too alarmingly close to the Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s party and family. We don’t want another riot, and this an issue touching everyone, so it requires the Minister concerned to answer the complaints in public—and quickly. Get your copy of the Daily Post for all the details, too numerous to mention here. The coverage is a further reminder to the well-connected that even though some in government sometimes imagine their term in office—the ‘closed season’—lasts for ever, four years are up fairly quickly.
What is just as unclear is the source of these allegations, and how this person (or persons) stand to benefit Read the rest of this entry »