NEWS ( Melanesian/Pacific ) 10 October 2012

1) PNG loa ino strong tumas long kalabusim ol man

Updated 10 October 2012, 14:58 AEST

Ol ripot i kam long Papua New Guinea i tok wanpela grup blong ol man ibin reipim wanpela meri, taim em ibim baim ol kaikai long Gordon’s Market, wanpela bikpela market long Port Moresby siti.

image - women selling at the market

Ol meri long market long New Ireland Provins long Papua New Guinea.(Audience submitted)

Dispela nius ibin mekim planti pipol i autim bel kaskas blong ol long dispela pasin ol man i mekim.

Tasol, Dominic Kakas blong Police Media Unit i tokim Radio AustraliaPacific Beat program dispela ol ripot ino tru.

Em ibin tok ol i arestim sampela sampela long dispela heve tasol ol i larem ol igo fri, na meri ino bin putim wanpela komplein igo long polis.

“The policemen kept the suspects in the cell and waited for the woman to come forward and identify them but she has not come forward to identify the men and they were released,” Mr Kakas i bin tok.

Dairekta blong Eastern Highlands Family Voice, John Eriku i tok, dispela kain heve na trabol i save kamap oltaim.

Family Voice, wanpela NGO lain, em i beis long Goroka i save bungim planti ‘victim na survivor’ blong family violens long ofis blongen.

Em i tok, PNG femili ino moa sanap bung na stap nambawan olsem wanpela femili nao.

“Insait long 10-pela pipol igo lukim ol, 8 oa 9-pela em ol meri,” em i tokim Radio Australia Tok Pisin.

2) PNG National Newspaper Editor Faces Contempt Charge
Two government officials, journalist appear in court

By Todagia Kelola

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 9, 2012) – The National newspaper’s Editor in Chief Frank Senge Kolma has been charged with contempt of court for publishing an editorial which is the subject of a matter before Papua New Guinea’s courts.

Supreme and National Court Judge Justice John Kawi charged him on Friday when expressing disappointment that an election petition case that he had heard and was about to deliver a decision has been hijacked by the paper by discussing it in public.

“The issue is before the courts and it’s before me and me alone, Frank Senge Kolma Editor is charged with contempt of court… Here I am sitting like a little duckling on this bench trying to weigh the evidences and the matter is being decided for me… Judge is just wasting his time,” said an obviously angry Justice Kawi.

He made this remarks after dealing with three people, two senior civil servants and a journalist who were ordered to appear before him and show cause as to why he should not charge them with contempt of court.

They were Civil Registry Registrar General Augustus Wagambio, Solicitor General Neville Devete and a National Newspaper reporter.

Registrar General Augustus Wagambio and the National reporter were ordered by the Judge to appear in court and show cause for a report which appeared last Monday quoting the Registrar discussing a matter which was before the court awaiting a final decision.

The matter is an election petition case between Tony Aimo as the petitioner and Ezekiel Anisi who is the member elect for the Ambunti Drekirkir seat.

In the Solicitor General Neville Devete matter, it involved an interim injunctive order against Madang Police from raiding or interfering with Madang businessman Peter Yama’s son and his wife following a raid conducted by a Mobile squad from Lae on his property in Madang last month.

Justice Kawi wanted to know why the Solicitor General’s Office was not defending the matter despite parties named were agents of the State.

After hearing all parties concerned in the two matters he reserved a decision to be delivered upon his return on circuit at the end of the month.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

3) PNG Finance Secretary Accused Of Embezzling $4.8 Million
Forest project allegedly pushed without requisite approval

By Konopa Kana

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 9, 2012) – Finance Secretary Steven Gibson fell short of explaining, in full, allegations of a K10 million [US$4.8 million] payment made to Global Construction Limited for a forest project in Vanimo during the formation of the new government in Papua New Guinea.

Yesterday the Post-Courier interviewed Mr. Gibson, who has now been implicated with misappropriating up to K10 million (K9,996,855, or US$4,794,450) in the form of payment of monies from the log export development levy trust funds to Global Construction Limited during the formation of the new government.

Mr. Gibson said the payment was made to build a road network in Vanimo Green based on a contract between National Forest Authority (NFA) for the benefit of the landowners.

When asked to verify which contract he was referring to, Mr. Gibson said: “Finance Department is a paying office. The agreement between the government and Global Construction was in place so I have to source the money to fund the project in Vanimo.”

However, Mr. Gibson could not directly give a straight answer as to who authorized the payment and could not verify if there was any public tender for contractors to bid for the project. He told the Post-Courier that a statement would be made available to respond to the matter soon.

The matter revealed by a private investigation firm that was conceived back in 2006, having similar nature of work as the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, has so far in their operations processed 10 people and jailed three of them.

Meanwhile, Prime Minster Peter O’Neill and Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga have been made aware of the matter, with a request to suspend Finance Secretary Mr. Gibson to allow police to effectively carry out investigations. The Police Commissioner could not comment last week but advised the investigation report was made known to him.

According to the private investigation firm, all procurement processes and procedures were not followed which is a breach of the trust instrument.

Only one bidder tendered for the project and the payment was made during the period of the formation of the new government.

The firm claimed that the Mr. Gibson as the custodian and chief accountable officer of all the public funds failed to follow set procedures.

According to a letter to Prime Minister O’Neill dated August 7, 2012, the secretary of the department of Finance Mr. Gibson signed and authorized the release of monies from the Log Export Development Levy Trust Account.

There were serious breaches of mandatory provisions in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the letter stated.

The alleged transaction occurred during the formation of the government with no formal contract awarded by the Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB). There was also no National Executive Council (NEC) decision or approval for such a transaction involving public monies.

According to Information obtained by the Post- Courier last Friday, the managing director of PNG Forest Authority and the Secretary for Planning as well as the CSTB have all given their approval for the release of the K9,996,855 to Global Contractions Ltd.

This payment was made through the log export development levy trust account, BSP check number 000025 on August 12, 2012 with a contract number CSTB 2385. The contract was awarded to Global Constructions Ltd and cleared by the state Solicitor for upgrading and sealing of Pasi to Krisah road in Vanimo Green District Block 3, 4 and 5.

Meanwhile, in a letter dated July, 9 2012 to the PNG Forest Authority, Mr. Gibson clarified the log export development levies for Vanimo Green River District for the funding of the road construction.

Mr. Gibson said in his letter: “I have received your letter dated June, 12 2012 on the same subject referring to the National Planning Secretary’s letter dated June 7 which requested K10 million to be released by Log Export Development Levies for the said GoPNG contract.”

According to the letter Mr. Gibson also said the issue raised about a court order OS (JR) 713 of 2009 (Levies for Vanimo Blocks 3, 4, and 5) and sought National Forest Authority to verify the court order and advise on required action.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

4) Health Official Defends AusAID’s Efforts In PNG
Report claims aid had ‘little impact’ between 2007 and 2010

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 9, 2012) – The effort to fight HIV/AIDS in PNG has been defended as AusAID threatens to pull funding.

Geoff Clarke, AusAID’s PNG Health and HIV/AIDS program director, was responding to calls from AusAID to suspend funding to PNG’s National AIDS Council Secretariat.

AusAID spent more than AU$170 million [US$173 million] on HIV programs in PNG between 2007 and 2010, but a new report claims that made little impact on the country’s HIV situation.

The report says the Secretariat has little effect and raised concerns about corruption.

Mr. Clarke told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that the findings don’t reflect the work being done, though he has admitted there were some issues.

“There have been some extreme difficulties with getting the organization to function effectively and to that end Australia has certainly ceased our support to the corporate functions,” he said.

However, he insisted that progress towards reducing HIV infection levels has been made, and that Australian funding has helped.

“We believe a complete withdrawal from NACS, which is the nationally-appointed body for coordinating the response, would be counterproductive to our systems here,” he said.

“We do still provide targeted support to certain areas, but we certainly do not support the NACS corporate functions which are the functions that have been heavily criticized.”

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

5) New disease enters PNG

By NELLIE SETEPANO

MORE than 600 people have been infected by a new disease called Chikungunya.
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that was first discovered in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe.
The disease was also detected in New Caledonia and just recently, in Vanimo’s urban area, in the West Sepik Province.
The disease was first reported in June this year. Between June and September, more clinic presentations were discovered with similar symptoms to that of malaria.
“There is no need to panic as no deaths have been reported yet. Deaths due to Chikungunya infection are usually rare,” Secretary for Health Pasco Kase stated in a media release yesterday.
Early this month, the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) confirmed that 14 out of 52 samples sent for testing were positive for chikungunya. Further investigations into the outbreak are currently undertaken by NDOH and IMR. The WHO is providing technical assistance.
Since June to this month, a total of 633 patients suspected of having symptoms of chikungunya have been reported from Vanimo hospital. The outbreak is localised to the town vicinity and its satellite communities.
Chikungunya fever is a viral illness transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes are also the vectors of dengue fever, and are known day-biters (mosquitoes that bite only during day time), usually in the morning hours or in the early evenings.
According to WHO, Chikungunya is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever, frequently accompanied by joint pains. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rashes. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually ends within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Occassional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastro-intestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common; but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death. Often symptoms in infected individuals are mild and may go unrecognised or be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue occurs.
The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a Kimakonde language verb that means “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.
WHO states there are no specific drugs to cure the disease. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.
The Department of Health states that patients in its acute phase are treated with paracetamol tablets and are requested not to take aspirin during this time due to a possible rise in the risk of bleeding.
Patients are also advised to seek early treatment with bed rest and sufficient intake of fluids.
Meanwhile, NDOH and the WHO will assist provincial health authorities to carry out appropriate control activities.http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20121010/wehome.htm


6) ANZ to surrender Vanuatu accounts to tax office

By Online Editor
3:27 pm GMT+12, 10/10/2012, Australia

ANZ Bank has accepted a Federal Court ruling that it should surrender more than 1300 Vanuatu customer accounts to the Australian Taxation Office.

An ANZ spokesman said yesterday the bank would not appeal against last month’s ruling by the full Federal Court.

ANZ is now likely to co-operate with the ATO and Vanuatu government in handing the material over.

The ATO sought the data from ANZ as part of the multi-agency Wickenby probe. It ran into strong resistance on Christmas Eve in 2010, when ANZ took court action saying it would be in breach of Vanuatu law and risk its licence to operate in the Pacific Island tax haven if it complied with the notices.

The bank also said the ATO had no extra-territorial powers, and that each of the notices was “uncertain and/or oppressive”.

But the full court agreed with Judge Bruce Lander, who in March ruled that the notices required ANZ to hand over information from a digital database called the “global information warehouse” that ANZ maintains in Australia.

The legislation, according to the full court, allowed the ATO to issue notices to Australian companies requiring them to furnish information stored in Australia.

SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS

7) New Caledonia Company May Import Vanuatu Limestone
Vale company team presently in country to discuss arrangement

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 9, 2012) – The issue of the limestone export from Vanuatu to New Caledonia will be revived again on this third visit to Vanuatu by the new management team of Vale New Caledonia, formerly known as Goro Mines, in the Southern Province of New Caledonia.

President of the board of Vale New Caledonia, also known as the direct descendant of the tribe that owns the land of the Goro Mines, Marc Homou, has confirmed that a delegation led by himself that arrived in Port Vila will hold a press conference purposely to discuss the purchase of limestone from Vanuatu by Vale New Caledonia at the Melanesian Hotel at 9am today.

The Kanaky team is to discuss the issue with Government Officials and the interim Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau.

Mr. Homou has been visiting Vanuatu over the past years to discuss with government officials as well as the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) officials areas of mutual in economic and social benefits between Kanaky as well as other countries. He was advocating for stronger trade relations between the Melanesian countries in the future.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reported earlier in October that Vale New Caledonia had denied reports it was considering Vanuatu’s limestone, citing satisfaction with its arrangement with a supply from the Philippines.]

Meanwhile, the Yate Community in the Southern Province of New Caledonia has assured the Vanuatu authorities that Vale New Caledonia will begin import of limestone from Vanuatu once an appropriate legislation is passed by Vanuatu’s new parliament in 2013.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Steven Kalsakau, and the French territory officials signed an agreement for the export of the limestone mineral from Vanuatu to New Caledonia during two visits to the French Territory in 2011 and now awaits Vanuatu’s parliament to pass the legislation.

Currently, Vale New Caledonia purchases limestone from the Philippines. But Mr. Homou has confirmed to Daily Post that the reason New Caledonia is looking at buying the limestone from Vanuatu was because the quality of the limestone in Vanuatu is rated at 95% as opposed to that found in other countries in Asia, and secondly, the distance between Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Mr. Kalsakau has also revealed that the islands that are of potential for limestone mining are Santo, Pentecost, Malekula, Efate and Erromango after returning from his visit.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

8) Ghai impresses

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, October 10, 2012-Fiji Times.

THE Australian government says the appointment of Professor Yash Ghai as the chair of the Constitution Commission was a positive move by Fiji.

Acting Australian High Commissioner Glenn Miles made the comment during his opening address at the University of Fiji’s Faculty of Business and Economics Fiji Update 2012. Mr Miles told the Nadi meeting that Australia was impressed with the work being done in preparation for elections in 2014. “Australia welcomes the Fiji government’s March announcement on a process for constitutional consultations in preparation for elections in 2014. And we also welcome the government’s commitment that those consultations will be open and fully inclusive,” he said.

“What we also thought was a very positive move was the appointment of Professor Yash Ghai as the chair of the Constitution Commission. We have worked with Professor Yash Ghai before in other countries and we have a lot of respect for his work and his independence.

“We also supported the commencement of the commission’s work. It’s been quite impressive the amount of work that’s been done.”

Mr Miles said his government was pleased with other signs of progress including the visit by the United Nations Needs Assessment Commission earlier this year and the electronic voter registration program.

“The fact that over 500,000 people registered demonstrates that Fijians are keen to participate in the march towards democratic elections in 2014 — that is an impressive number,” he said. He said Australia, along with other international donors, stood ready to support Fiji’s return to democracy.

“On June 1, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced we would provide $2.65million to support Fiji’s constitutional and elections preparations.

“This assistance has gone through the Fiji Elections Office where we’ve provided technical support and with the EVR process where we’ve paid for most of the salaries for those involved in the process.”

9) Economist Predicts Higher Growth As Fiji Nears Elections
USP professor characterizes public sector as ‘lethargic’

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 9, 2012) – Expect more investments and an upward trend in economic growth rate as the country moves to elections in 2014.

This is the view of economist Professor Biman Prasad while addressing participants at the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Business and Economics Fiji Update in Nadi last Friday.

Prof. Prasad said despite government initiatives and policies to stimulate economic growth, the results had not been forthcoming.

“However, the current climate will change as we move towards 2014,” he said.

“As the country marches towards democratic elections, there will be a change in attitude towards investment. There have been a lot of positive indicators since the last two quarters but we must take very cautiously the projected 2.7 percent growth announcement made by government.

“I think the original forecast of 2.3 percent is more realistic compared to the revised one.”

Prof. Prasad said to improve efficiencies and rebuild the economy, urgent public sector reforms were critical and the move towards elections must be decisive.

“The public sector is too lethargic. To incite enthusiasm from potential investors we need improvements and improvements in service.

“We also need to go to 2014 decisively. Preparations for the 2014 elections should start immediately to further boost confidence.”

Resident representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) Doctor Yongzheng Yang said while growth had been relatively slow, Fiji’s was higher than other Pacific Islands but far below other smaller states, especially in recent years.

“Factors affecting Fiji’s growth is distance from trade countries and the biggest factor is investment. However, it must be noted that political instability is a big issue in investment,” he said.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

10) Tonga Bidding Against Tahiti To Host 2019 Pacific Games
Expected cost to stage regional games around $70 million

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 9, 2012) – Tonga makes a final bid to host the Pacific Games in 2019 with its presentation next week to the General Assembly of the Pacific Games Council in Wallis & Futuna, for the event that will require US$70 million to stage here.

During the October 18-19 meeting Tahiti will compete with Tonga for the opportunity to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

Tahiti hosted the Pacific Games in 1971 and in 1995, but now with their slogan ‘The Pacific Spirit’, they believe that they have something to offer 24 years later.

Tonga has never hosted a Pacific Games, and last hosted the Mini Games in 1989.

The Secretary General of the Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee, Takitoa Taumoepeau was optimistic that under the leadership of Lord Tupou, Tonga’s Prime Minister and the President of TASANOC, they would be successful in their bid with Tonga’s slogan “Our People, Our Games.”

Lord Tu’ivakano in a message to the Pacific Games Council pointed out the significance of the year 2019 for Tonga, which is the 150th Anniversary of the promulgation of the draft of the Tongan Constitution in 1889. “The Tongan people could ask for no greater gift than the opportunity to stage the 2019 Pacific Games in our Island Kingdom,” he said.

Tonga’s bidding team for the 2019 Pacific Games will be led by Prince Ata and will include Lord Vaea, Hon. Fe’ao Vakata, Lord Tevita Tupou, Lopeti Senituli, ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi, Michel Bloomfield, Takitoa Taumoepeau, Leonaitasi Kuluni and Faivamalie, a matapule.

To host the 2019 games, it is estimated that Tonga will need a budget of US$70 million, which includes US$50 million for capital development costs to renovate Tonga’s dilapidated sports facilities.

The Tongan government is expected to meet the US$20 million operating costs, while aid donor support will be needed to construct sporting facilities, along with income from franchises through partnerships and sponsorship.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

11) Local Courts To Handle Nauru Asylum Seeker Appeals
President says local handling may deter illegal entry to Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 9, 2012) – Nauru is amending its legislation to handle appeals from asylum seekers sent by Australia.

The new legislation will also enable local courts to handle appeals made against determinations.

Mr. Sprent Dabwido, Nauru’s president, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that the aim is to provide all services on Nauru.

However, he added that funding is still being discussed, and extra support may be needed if large numbers of appeals are lodged.

“We do have some arrangement where, if appeals continue to be coming, then we might be looking towards Australia to fund some of those because we don’t want to put too much pressure on our own resources here,” he said.

Mr. Dabwido said it was hoped the move would discourage asylum seekers from seeking to enter Australia illegally.

“If you come here then you are under Nauru law,” he said.

“To me, doing everything on the island here may be a deterrent… people won’t have access to go to Australia to appeal their cases.”

Meanwhile, local media in Papua New Guinea is reporting that asylum seekers being held at the Australian-run detention centre on will also have to pursue appeals against refugee determinations through PNG law.

Lawyers in PNG are preparing procedures for appeals to be lodged, but Kerengua Kua, the country’s Attorney-General, says the existing legal framework is sufficient to address asylum grievances.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reports Australia has recently moved another group of 30 asylum seekers to Nauru, which reportedly went without incident.]

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

12) PNA Members Take Stand On Pacific Fisheries Control
Illegal fishing reportedly costs Pacific over $100 million yearly

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 9, 2012) – Calls for Pacific islands to take more ownership of their significant fishery resources have begun translating into action.

With some recent reports showing 87 percent of global fish stocks are fully or over-exploited, the Pacific is viewed as one of the last regions with plentiful stocks of in-demand species like tuna.

However, as Johnny Blades reports, few regions have such little control on management of their fish stocks:

It’s been described as one of the great heists of our time – the relentless plundering of the ocean’s fish stocks through illegal fishing.

Palau’s representative at the United Nations, Stuart Beck, says that global fisheries should be accountable.

“Global fisheries must be fair. If distant water vessels wish to come for fish that traverse Palau’s waters, then they should respect our laws. Second, global fisheries should be sustainable. We should use every means at our disposal to achieve stocks levels that will ensure healthy fisheries for the long term.”

New Zealand’s government has estimated that Pacific countries lose – conservatively – upward of US$100 million a year to illegal fishing.

Papua New Guinea, whose waters are said to have more than 20 percent of the world’s tuna stock, is failing to cash in adequately on a fishery, valued at US$2 billion a year.

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna also raised the issue at the recent Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit.

“We don’t have enough information to quantify just how much fish is being taken away through illegal fishing activities. But it is a concern that leaders have discussed at length because we need all the help we can have in addition to the help from our partners Australia and New Zealand to carry out surveillance of our exclusive economic zones.”

Pacific islands lack the resources to fully monitor their waters, and foreign fleets can easily circumvent the rules by methods such as trans-shipment of catch before they reach the ports.

But the eight Pacific countries who make up the Parties to the Nauru Agreement have taken a united position when dealing with distant fishing nations.

The PNA’s success in boosting the revenue from fisheries, for example by raising vessel day fees considerably, is seen as integral work by the Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak:

“The PNA is very important for small countries here in the Pacific and we’ve worked hard to try to protect the resource, the only valuable resource we have at this time, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Until recently few Pacific countries seemed to have thought that fish caught in the islands should be processed in the islands.

Now, the owner of one of American Samoa’s tuna canneries has proposed the territory become the regional hub for fish processing.

Tri Marine International’s managing director, Joe Hamby, says unlike American Samoa, many Pacific islands lack the land mass, population and infrastructure for processing.

“So if they can allow American Samoa to be the regional hub where their fish is processed and where they can have people in American Samoa, have their fisheries people in American Samoa to be able to see what fish is being caught. Say, for example in Tuvalu, their scientists can be here, they can measure the tuna, they can monitor what’s going on. They have a thing called monitoring, surveillance and control, that’s good fishery management, you need that.”

PNG is also looking to develop ports in Madang and Lae as a regional processing hub.

As to how many regional hubs can exist is unclear, but co-operation between the island countries is vital if they are to take ownership of their vast fishery resources.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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