NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 15/10/12.

1)PNG PM i promis long stopim pipol i kisim nating graun blong narapela
Updated 15 October 2012, 12:59 AEST-Radio Australia.

Praim Minista blong Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, i tok em bai mekim olgeta samting long lukautim ol pipol blongen na kantri long ol giaman pipol.

Em i bin bekim dispela ol toktok long bekim bikpela heve igo long wei ol i kirapim SABL, Special Agricultural and Business Leases

“We have made some fundamental mistakes over the past few years,” Mr O’Neill i tokim ABC Radio Australia.

“One of them is the Special Agricultural and Business Leases that has been given out by government over the past few years.”

Long wikend, ABC program, Background Briefing i bin ripot long wanpela logging kampani blong Australia ibin stap insait long wanpela binis long kantim moa long ‘2 million hectare’ blong giraun long ol lanona insait long Western Province.

Ol lanona long hap i tokim ABC olsem ol i bin givim ol tok orait ananit long agriment long kamapim wanpela rot, ino long katim diwai long moa long ‘2 million hectare’ blong graun.

Wanpela wok painim-aut nau i stat pinis long dispela SABL, na Mr O’Neill i tok em bai skelim gut dispela wok painim ripot taim ol i pinisim.

“We will make further amendments to try and make sure that there is a level playing field where developments taking place in rural settings and especially on traditional land must have the fullest respect and participation of the landowners,” em ibin tok.

4) Australia stands ready to help PNG in defence

By Online Editor
1:14 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Papua New Guinea
Australian stands ready to help Papua New Guinea improve its defence capabilities, Australian Department of Defence deputy secretary (strategy) Brendan Sargeant says.

Sargeant said that last Friday when visiting troops from Australia and Papua New Guinea taking part in Exercise Olgeta Warrior at Goldie, outside Port Moresby.

Olgeta Warrior is an annual joint defence training programme between the Australian and PNG defence forces under the defence cooperation programme.

Sargeant was in the country to see how soldiers from the countries were doing under the annual training programme.

“Australia and PNG are close neighbours and we have a mutual interest in strengthening regional security,” he said.

“Together we can do more. The soldiers learn from each other and improve their capabilities.

“Australia stands ready to extend its support to PNG.”

Sargeant said both nations needed capable defence forces in light of increasing global and regional security threats.

Brig Shane Caughey, who is commanding about 200 troops from the 3rd Brigade of the Royal Australian Regiment engaged in the exercise, said the programme provided an avenue for soldiers from both countries to understand and learn from each other.

“It’s a two-way process and we learn from each other,” he said.

PNG Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi said the programme was jointly funded by the Australian and PNG governments.

Agwi said it was a mutually beneficial exercise and he would like to see it continue.

PNGDF Joint Force Commander Col Gilbert Toropo said the Olgeta Warrior programme had three components.

“There is Exercise Pukpuk for the engineering battalion, Wantok Warrior for the infantry and Paradise Warrior for the sea element,” he said.

SOURCE: TRHE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

5) PNG’s national broadcaster NBC is plagued by corruption: PEA

By Online Editor
3:37 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) management has now been hard hit with allegations of misconduct.

General fraud, embezzlement, double dipping, siphoning of NBC funds and awarding of contracts without following proper procedures is now the highlight of an investigation and an issue before the Public Employees Association (PEA).

The NBC management team was not able to be contacted to respond to this, including the Communications Minister Jimmy Miringtoro or the Chairman of the Board to get an official response.

But, the acting President of Public Employees Association (PEA) Anna Igo has taken up the case for the 11 very senior officers of NBC who were terminated and suspended for divulging information and discrediting NBC.

Last week, the sacked employees took their plight to PEA to be heard and Igo announced that whistleblowers must be protected She has demanded the Government immediately set up an independent investigation into the affairs of NBC for serious allegations of official corruption and intimidation of its employees.

“The management of NBC has suspended and terminated whistleblowers of NBC who are union members of PEA for serious allegations of official corruption, financial irregularities, mismanagement and intimidation of employees of the corporation,” she said yesterday at a press conference at PEA headquarters, Waigani.

According to Igo, 11 very experienced senior staff who have served NBC collectively for over 100 years were either terminated (4), suspended on leave without pay (6), or suspended on leave with pay (1) within a space of just two months and that the issue came to light when employees blamed management for the death of a long serving employee who remained under suspension for two years prior to his demise.

She said NBC currently did not have a board and according to the NBC Act its management was not authorised under law to terminate or suspend its officers and therefore had committed an Error of Law.

According to her, the right to terminate or suspend lies with the Board of NBC.

Igo said the allegations were serious in nature and detrimental to the morale of the employees of NBC and therefore the actions of the NBC management were a direct attack on unionism in PNG and a violation of the rights of workers to associate as espoused by the International Labour Organisation Conventions 89 and 98, ratified by the PNG.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

6) PNG Prime Minister Vows To Stop Illegal Land Grabs
O’Neill responds to Agricultural, Business Lease scandal

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 15, 2012) – PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, says he will do everything possible to protect his people and his country from irregular land dealings.

The comments come in response to the scandal surrounding the issuing Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs).

“We have made some fundamental mistakes over the past few years,” Mr O’Neill told ABC Radio Australia.

“One of them is the Special Agricultural and Business Leases that has been given out by government over the past few years.”

Since 2004, 11 per cent of PNG’s land mass has been leased out without the permission of landowners, and usually for a period of 99 years.

“It is a huge concern where many of our own people have been displaced without giving much thought,” he said.

Over the weekend, ABC’s Background Briefing program exposed an Australian-led logging company that has been involved in moving more than 2 million hectares of land out of customary ownership in Western Province.

Representatives for the landowners told the ABC they had approved leases for a road corridor, not for more than 2 million hectares of land.

A Special Agricultural and Business Lease Inquiry is now underway, and Mr O’Neill said he will consider a review of the situation once he has received the inquiry’s recommendations.

“We will make further amendments to try and make sure that there is a level playing field where developments taking place in rural settings and especially on traditional land must have the fullest respect and participation of the landowners,” he said.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

7) People dissatisfy with Solomon Islands police: Survey

By Online Editor
3:21 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Solomon Islands

The 2011 People’s survey in Solomon Islands has shown dissatisfaction with assistance received from the Police Force.

The survey conducted in Choiseul, Western, Isabel, Malaita, Guadalcanal, Temotu and Honiara, showed 55 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with the help received from police.

By contrast, the survey showed 44 percent were satisfied.

The most common reason given by respondents who were not satisfied with police assistance was that police did not do anything to help.

The only other reason given was that police were too slow to respond.

The slow response was reported most often in Honiara and Isabel Province.

The survey further showed 31 percent of the respondents said the Police treat people well, while 36 percent said the police treat people well sometimes.

Twenty-four percent of the respondents said the RSIPF has improved within the past five years, while another 24 percent said it had improved in some ways.

Forty-percent of the participants thought the Police had not improved.

Participants in the survey were not asked specifically about contact with the RSIPF but other questions in relation to law and justice produced many comments on the local police.

All participants interviewed reported that police are unwilling to leave police posts.

They said the police are ineffective when they do, and village people, especially women and youths are reluctant to report crimes to the police because they fear them.

SOURCE: SIBC/PACNEWS

8) RAMSI to end next March

By Online Editor
1:18 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Papua New Guinea

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which began after riots erupted in the capital Honiara in 2002, will officially end next March, the Papua New Guinea army says.

And 35 soldiers from the 1st Royal Pacific Island Regiment (1RP1R) based at Taurama Barracks will be the last lot of troops from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to attend this regional peace-keeping mission.

RAMSI is an initiative, of the Solomon Islands regional neighbours of Australia, New Zealand, PNG and Tonga to restore law and order in the troubled country.

The 35 troops left our shores at 2pm on a C130 Hercules aircraft from Jackson International Airport last Friday.

Papua New Guinea Defence Force Commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi bid the soldiers farewell.

Agwi urged them to make the country proud by following the precedent set by their colleagues who went before them.

Joint Force Commander Col Gilbert Toropo told the soldiers they carried the PNG flag and must conduct themselves professionally.

The troops will replace the Kumul Force 15 who returned from Solomon Islands in September.

The soldiers will spend two months in Adelaide, Australia, undergoing pre-deployment training before leaving for Honiara, where they will spend four months.

They will return next March when the Ramsi programme will end.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

9) PNG, NZ bilateral trade strengthened

By Online Editor
3:19 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Papua New GuineaThe trade between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea that was stagnant over the last 10 years is set to take a new twist as the O’Neill Government moves towards developing more trade and commerce between the two countries.

This was the message conveyed by Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry Richard Maru during his bilateral meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser respectively in Auckland last week.

Maru said to stimulate the increase of business and trade activities between the two countries, McCully will be leading a trade delegation to PNG at the end of this month to canvas a number of exciting new business opportunities in PNG.

Minister Maru also informed McCully and Groser on the signing of long awaited Double Tax Treaty between New Zealand and PNG.

He said when Minister McCully and his delegation visit PNG, both will be signing the Double Tax Treaty and discuss canvas on increasing business activities.

During the discussions, Maru requested the New Zealand Government to increase the number of Papua New Guineans doing seasonal work in New Zealand under the seasonal labour scheme.

Since the successful initial trial, six Papua New Guineans have been recruited and are currently working in New Zealand.

Vanuatu is the biggest beneficiary of the scheme with up to 2000 seasonal workers employed in New Zealand.

Maru requested New Zealand investors to enter into partnerships with PNG state enterprises to develop hydro and geothermal power stations and invest in the new diary industry, that PNG would like to start by early next year.

The Minister also invited New Zealand investors to invest in commercial sheep business in PNG.

“These are two agriculture industries where New Zealand is a world leader in terms of investment and expertise and I request New Zealand Government to help PNG develop these industries.

“Currently, PNG spends more than K300 million each year to import dairy products and lamb from New Zealand while New Zealand’s exports from PNG has dropped to K13 million annually.

“We can easily develop these two industries on a large commercial scale with assistance and expertise from New Zealand,” Minister Maru said.

Maru also sought the New Zealand’s assistance to help PNG develop its geothermal power industry.

He said New Zealand has vast experience in this industry and PNG would specifically sought support especially in the area of its policy formulation and legislation reform to develop the energy industry.

“Nearly up to 10 per cent of New Zealand’s total electricity is powered by geothermal power stations and the attraction is that geothermal is the cheaper energy than gas, coal, diesel and others,” Maru said.

Minister Maru has also had talks with New Zealand Government on setting up a chicken, fish and piggery feed industry in PNG through the help from New Zealand.

He also requested New Zealand fishing companies to invest in the Madang Marine industry with partnership with local companies.

Minister Maru has also invited New Zealand companies who were involving in the constructions of the venues and the successful hosting of the recent Rugby Union World Cup hosted by New Zealand to offer their expertise to assist PNG complete essential infrastructure for the hosting of 2015 South Pacific Games.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

10) Kilman Stands In Vanuatu Elections, Advisor Slams Media Reports
Erroneous report over delinquent tax payments decried

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 15, 2012) – Following the front page news on the exclusion of Caretaker Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, from the list of candidates to contest [the upcoming election] and alleged outstanding [debt] owed to the State, First Political Advisor, Richard Kaltonga, said the issue was sorted out the previous day before names were announced.

Kaltonga went as far as warning local media that if their conduct warrants more stringent legal controls to protect media ethics and ensure media responsibility, these will be implemented after the next Parliament is convened and a new government is formed.

He stated: “The Prime Minister’s Office further to the letter to the Editor of 29th August 2012 concerning public propaganda and media responsibility, would like to draw attention today’s Daily Post front page article by Mr. Ricky Binihi concerning the exclusion of the Prime Minister’s name from the list of candidates for the 2012 General Elections.

“The article alleges that the Prime Minister had some outstandings with the VAT office to the tune of Vt 6 million whilst in Page 3 “Local News in Brief” section it states that Prime Minister Kilman had allegedly cleared his outstanding VAT of 6 figures.

“It would seem that the VAT Office is so far away that Daily Post Journalists cannot find out the truth before the newspaper goes to print.

“It would also seem that the Electoral Office does not want to give any information to the Daily Post journalists as if they had, the reporter concerned would have been aware that the matter had been sorted out on the previous day before the names were announced and a file had been left with the Electoral Office which was conveniently overlooked until officials from the Prime Minister’s political party and office met with Electoral Office and pointed this out to staff at the Electoral Office.

“If the Daily Post journalist had consulted the VAT Office prior to going to print, he would have established that there was no outstanding VAT owed and the Prime Minister did not have to make any payments to VAT Office in order to clear his name with the Electoral Office.

“It is clear to this office that there are some local media organizations and media personalities who are sacrificing proper media ethics in the interests of politics and private personal agendas.

“The media has a responsibility to verify the truthfulness of any statements to public media. If the appropriate checks are not made prior to releasing of a media statement then the media itself is as much responsible for misleading the public which is totally against proper and professional journalist ethics.

“Conduct by the media has recently been the subject of serious debate in some national Parliaments overseas with Australian parliamentarians considering the enactment of more stringent laws to control improper reporting and conduct by the media.

“Local media organizations are advised that if their conduct warrants more stringent legal controls to protect media ethics and ensure media responsibility, these will be implemented after the next Parliament is convened and a new government is formed.

“The local media are also advised that the next government of Vanuatu will be encouraged to institute policies and programs to promote the establishment of more media entities and open the doors for foreign media organizations to establish branches and agents here in Vanuatu and take up the public media role in the event that some current media organizations lose their licenses or are closed down because of their improper reporting and continually repeated questionable conduct.

“The Prime Minister’s Office would like to again remind media organizations and their reporters of their responsibilities to the public at large and the need to conduct themselves in accordance with proper media ethics,” Mr Kaltongga said.

Meanwhile, Daily Post Editor, Royson Willie, has said statements such as this made by the caretaker government to threaten media freedom in the country is not only irresponsible but also not in the best interest of a democratic country such as Vanuatu.

“We are treating this very seriously as a threat to a free and independent media in Vanuatu.

“By indicating that it will be carrying such action against the media when the next government forms is nothing close to democratic principles but tyranny or dictatorship, which does not have a place in Vanuatu.

“Daily Post was told straight after the names were announced on national radio by the Electoral Office and Electoral Commission that the reason Caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman was not on the list was because he had an outstanding with the Value Added Tax office.

“Later that afternoon Daily Post received information through the Electoral Commission that Mr Kilman had cleared the VAT arrears.

“We were told that two of the candidates had their VAT outstanding reduced to around Vt300,000 and Vt200,000 and they paid it but no reduction figures was coming for Mr Kilman but only that it was settled.

“Yesterday we called the Rates and Taxes office and spoke to VAT officers who said they could not comment on it except their Acting Director Mr John Sala, based on bureaucratic hierarchy.

“We asked to speak with the Acting Director but his secretary said he was busy and asked us to call back.

“A second phone call was made on the time the Director asked us to call back but still the Acting Director was said to be busy.

“The question is, if the very people responsible for the electoral process of Vanuatu say there is an outstanding after the announcement but there are claims that these outstanding were settled before that announcement then something is very wrong somewhere,” the Daily Post Editor said.

He said the media is always referred to as the fourth estate in a democracy and it is its duty to ensure transparency and good governance prevail at all times and that is what Vanuatu Daily Post stands for to see a fair and smooth electoral process take place to elect the next parliamentary leaders of Vanuatu.

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

11) Australian Seasonal Workers Scheme Launched In Vanuatu
4-year pilot project makes way for permanent program

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 15, 2012) – The much-awaited Australian Seasonal Workers Scheme was finally launched yesterday in front of over 200 work seekers.

Care-taker Minister of Internal Affairs, George Wells officially launched the scheme in the presence of Australian Government representatives, Labour Commissioner Lionel Kaluat, Agents and would be workers.

Australian Seasonal Workers Program started in 2008 as a pilot until June this year when the Australian Government made the official announcement the scheme is ready to proceed.

Labour Commissioner, Lionel Kaluat explained to agents and a high number of people seeking work under the scheme that Vanuatu’s launching into the scheme was delayed for good reasons that will benefit the scheme.

“Under the pilot program Vanuatu send some workers in 2008 and the number as continuously increased,” said Kalwat.

“Though the Australian Government has declared the scheme in June the scheme was delayed in Vanuatu to make sure that every agents with licences have to operate in a level playing field.

“The main reason for delaying the launching was because the program has to complete its pilot stage.”

The Labour Commissioner explained that the period of the pilot program has given enough time to find mistakes and problems to avoid running into surprise when the country officially launches the scheme.

He said there is a regulation in place under the seasonal employment Act 23 of 2007 which makes Vanuatu the only one in the region to have a regulation to regulate the two schemes.

“Inside the regulation there are policy ideas in place for some roles for major players of the scheme including workers, employers or farmer and the Labour Commissioner.

“Compared to New Zealand, the Australian Market is tougher therefore to attract Australian employers we have to set up a system that is transparent and accountable.”

He added that the difference between the Australian market and New Zealand is, although Australia is bigger, the climate is hotter.

“I strongly appeal to every workers and stakeholders of the scheme that the business does not belong to the government; it belongs to you and me who should own the scheme.

“The Government has found work for you so now it is your turn to help the Government to realise a long time dream of working towards economical Independence.

“Workers represent the whole population of Vanuatu so every worker have to be responsible and keep in mind that any negative outcome will affect other people’s chance of finding work under the scheme.”

Meanwhile Tonga is currently leading the number of workers in Australia while Vanuatu is moving closer to 100.

Vanuatu is leading in New Zealand with over 2500 every year. Since 2006 there have been 10120 Vanuatu workers going to New Zealand.

“Those that have gone to New Zealand have returned with experiences, skills and most important of all are the remittances or moneys that workers will return with.

“It’s the moneys that workers brought back that sees many success stories around the country with are return workers build house pay for school fees, vehicles and other developments.

After the launching new licensees will be approved by a screening committee which will also have an Australian Government representative.

Employers under the scheme will also have to seek approval by the Australian Government.

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

12) Fiji Election Workers ‘Cleaning’ Voting Registration List
Nearly 500,000 voters registered during phase 1

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 12, 2012) – Fiji’s Elections Office is currently adjudicating the data of close to half-a-million Fijians who registered during the first phase of Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) this year.

At the close of the first phase of sixty-one days, 488,734 Fijians registered at VRCs across the country.

Permanent Secretary for the Electoral Reforms, Mere Vuniwaqa said this exercise will ensure a clean voter list and a clear understanding of the distribution and demographics of registration so far in order to better cater for specific needs during the second phase of registration which is set to open next month.

The “cleaning” process is being carried by close to thirty registration clerks.

“One of the clerks’ major responsibilities is to examine the voter list to locate entries with similar or identical voter information,” Vuniwaqa said in a statement.

She said such cases usually indicated that an individual had registered more than once.

The Elections Office is currently cross-checking the information collected through the written application forms with the information entered into the electronic database, to ensure that the data (such as the spelling of an individual’s name) has been entered correctly.

Once this exercise has been completed, the Provisional Roll of every Fijian who has so far registered to vote in the 2014 General Election will be made available to the public at District Offices across the country.

The public will then have the opportunity to examine the roll and notify the Elections Office of any errors or anomalies with voters’ information.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

13) Fiji-PNG Business Council applauds PNG govt decision

By Online Editor
1:10 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, FijiThe  Fiji-Papua New Guinea (PNG) Business Council is hailing a decision made last week to lift duty prices on selected items.

The PNG Government last week announced the removal of duty on most of the products listed on their negative list under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement. Revised in 2005, the MSG Trade Agreement removed all existing barriers in trade within the sub-region.

President of the Fiji-Papua New Guinea Business Council, Kevin McCarthy, said his members were thrilled at the news.

“The Melanesian Spearhead Agreement was very much aimed at free trade around the region and many of these agreements had been put in place but they had not been given legal effect with gazette.

“So there was a great deal of confusion,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy himself has spent seven years in Papua New Guinea and has with a wealth of knowledge from his experience in working and holding posts in Melanesia. He said council members were very excited about the news.

“Delighted. Our members were delighted to hear the news because they had dealt with so much uncertainty before this.

“Many of the members were getting different effects when they tried to import or export goods to and from Papua New Guinea they got different levels of duty on that and things they thought were duty free had duty put on them,” McCarthy said.

He said the Papua New Guinea Government’s decision would not only have a positive effect on trade for Fiji but it played a key role in facilitating and promoting growth in the region.

“What this has done now is they have something in the agreement called a negative list which is the things that have duty on them and it was uncertain as to what was actually on that list and what the duty rates were.

“What this has done now is that is has given absolute clarity on that and the great thing is that there are only three items that are still on that list which are salt, sugar and Mackerel.

“So that means everything else that goes into Papua New Guinea is duty free,” he said.

And McCarthy offered an open invitation to businesses to join the Fiji PNG Business Council and said it would be a great opportunity for Fijian businesses especially at a time such as this.

“This is a great opportunity for the exporters in Fiji to look to that market now and to bring their goods in and also a good chance for the people of Papua New Guinea to see the quality goods that Fiji has to offer and to just continue to build that trade,” he said.

“We’ve always recommended for people who are looking into starting business in Papua New Guinea to partner with someone and we can be a great source to get them in there and find contacts and people they could work with.

“There are so many areas that PNG can bring in goods and services.

“We have been trying to put a trade mission together for some time now to Papua New Guinea.

“But unfortunately it does not look like it will happen this year but more likely to happen early next year.

“We see great opportunities between the two countries and we encourage businesses to come and join the council to take advantage of that trade,” he said..

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

14) EU meet to boost bilateral business: Fiji Official

By Online Editor
1:07 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, Fiji Government held bilateral talks with the European Commission earlier this month discussing a range of issues related to enhancing Fiji’s trade and development relations with the European Union (EU).

The discussions were led by the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali.

The meeting took place in the margins of the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) meeting between the Pacific African Caribbean Pacific (PACP) States and the European Commission in Brussels.

Ali met Peter Thompson, the director for Development and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Units, at the Directorate General Trade (DG Trade), in the European Commission on October 4.

“The purpose of the meeting was to elevate Fiji’s bilateral economic and trade engagement with the EU, whilst negotiations were taking place on the regional comprehensive EPA, between the PACP states and the EU,” Ali said.

“We emphasised the existing mechanisms such as the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (I-EPA) that was signed by Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the EU in 2009.

“We told them of the progressive step taken by Fiji towards mapping out an implementation action plan for I-EPA, despite concerns regarding unresolved issues.”

Ali said Fiji asked to be part of I-EPA Trade Committee discussions, whilst the Fijian Government was assessing the ratification and implementation of the I-EPA.

“The European Commission has been very receptive to take the discussions further,” he told Sun Business.

“Fiji also has recently submitted its notification on ‘global sourcing’ for canned fish as per the requirements under I-EPA, indicating Fiji’s strong interest to benefit from the favourable rules on the export of canned fish.

“We will await the response from the European Commission on our notification.”

Ali also mentioned that Fiji, along with the other PACP states, was seeking an extension of these global sourcing rules to fresh, frozen and chilled fish under the regional Comprehensive EPA negotiations, which was also discussed in the JTWG.

This is expected to not only benefit Fiji, but other Small Island States (SIS) in the Pacific that do not have canneries.

“Global sourcing provisions, i.e. derogation from existing rules for fisheries exports, will provide great opportunities to local fisheries companies in the Pacific and Fiji,” Ali said.

“These companies will be able to source fish from foreign vessels and neighbouring island waters and land and process it in their jurisdictions.

“After processing, the finished products will qualify for duty free entry into the European Union.”

Earlier, during the JTWG, Fiji had made a case, on behalf of the Pacific, relating the experience of Fiji and Kiribati, which provided a credible evidence of increased potential private investments and jobs, if global sourcing rules on fresh, frozen and chilled fish was granted to the PACP states.

The European Commission and Fiji also discussed issues relating to maintaining health and safety standards through the ‘competent authority’ established in Fiji for this purpose.

Both sides agreed that the ‘competent authority’ in Fiji and other related agencies needed to be strengthened to combat Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries.

In this regard, Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries will provide the European Commission a six months report, outlining the long term action plan and the specific areas where assistance is required.

Both sides agreed that targeted European Development Funds (EDF) could enhance the trading capacity of the PACP states and facilitate trade between the Pacific and the EU.

Ali said the upcoming cycle of European aid, i.e. EDF 11, needed to take ‘out of the box’ approach to deliver tangible benefits to PACP states and Fiji.

The European Commission was updated on Fiji’s current progress on socio-economic and political reforms.

Ali underscored the successful milestones achieved by the Bainimarama Government, such as the electronic voter registration process that has registered more than half of Fiji’s population and the constitutional review commission that was currently receiving submissions from all segments of the community.

Ali informed the European Commission that our Government was encouraging all Fijians to contribute and participate in building a better future for Fiji. He confirmed the European Commission was impressed with the progress Fiji was making and was willing to assist Fiji.

“They hope for further opportunities for dialogue with the Fijian Government in the near future,” Mr Ali said.
Deputy Secretary for Trade and Investment, Sovaia Marawa and Second Secretary, Fiji Embassy Brussels, Setaita Tupua-Kalou, were also part of Fiji team in the meeting.

The European Commission delegation included Sandra Gallina, head of Unit Trade (EPA-ACP Territories) and Joachim Zeller, Economic and Trade Affairs manager (EPA).

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

15) Political Party Wants New Commission To Limit Fiji Military’s Power
NFP calls for civilian control, multi-racial military

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 15, 2012) – The National Federation Party has recommended that an Independent Armed Services Commission be formed to oversee the recruitment and promotions within the Fiji Military Forces.

According to FBC News, the proposal has been made by the NFP’s General Secretary Parmod Rae in a submission to the Constitution Commission.

Mr Rae says the military should have equal representation of all races in the country.

The military has traditionally been dominated by Fijians, with little change to the forces’ make-up since the last coup which has been billed as a move to root out racism in politics.

Mr Rae says the new constitution shall provide for the principle and mechanism of civilian control of the armed forces.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

16) American Samoa Launches New Patrol Boat
U.S. grant to Department of Public Safety funds purchase

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 14, 2012) – With a federal grant of $400,000 the Department of Public Safety now has a new patrol boat which was unveiled during a ceremony held Wednesday at the Fagatogo Malae.

Governor Togiola Tulafono joined Police Commissioner Tuaolo M. Fruean and other DPS officials to officially commission the new addition to the Marine Patrol Division.

Commissioner Tuaolo, in his remarks, credited working closely with federal partners to secure the funds for this purchase. Since he assumed the post in 2009 Tuaolo said he has stressed compliance with all federal regulations, to his staff, and providing honest timely reports to grantors.

He believes compliance and honesty make federal grantors more willing to assist when there are additional requests for grants to help American Samoa. He cited as an example, the addition of more patrol vehicles for DPS’ enforcement duties through one of their major grantors, the Federal Highway Safety Administration.

Capt. Tulele Laolagi, the head of the DPS Marine Patrol Division, applauded the new vessel’s ability to reach the Manu’a islands and other areas at sea, which are under territorial jurisdiction which improves his division’s law enforcement abilities and possibly save more lives at sea.

Togiola “acknowledged with gratitude, the programs through the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Act that allow us opportunities such a this to enjoy wonderful tools that we can have in our possession to affect the work of our Department of Public Safety, not only to do their law enforcement duties but also to affect rescue and operations that assist the people to assure our safety in time of difficulty.”

He said the Coast Guard has been “one of our greatest partners in the area of law enforcement” and thanked the Honolulu-based Coat Guard District 14 – which oversees American Samoa, Hawai’i and other U.S. Pacific islands.

It has been a “great partnership” enjoyed by American Samoa over the years in his administration. “I have received nothing but great cooperation” not only from the Commanding Officer of the 14th district, the Captain of the Port of Honolulu – which oversees the Port of Pago Pago – and all Coast Guard personnel, including the Marine Safety Detachment Unit based in the territory, Togiola said.

He announced this weekend on his radio program that DPS was recently awarded a grant of $500,000 for improvement to the traffic safety information system.

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

17) Endemic Samoan Bird Feared Near Extinction
Survey in Savai‘i find no manumea, recovery plan needed

By Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Oct. 15, 2012) – The manumea bird, which is endemic to Samoa, is feared to be near extinction after scientists failed to sight the species during a recent Savai’i uplands forest survey.

The situation is so dire for Samoa’s native species, that some scientists estimate the head count at less than 200.

The manumea, or tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris), is listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list of globally threatened species.

According to the terms of this list, if no action is taken to halt the decline in populations of these unique species, it is expected that they will become extinct.

During the recent rapid biodiversity assessment (BioRap Assessment) in uplands Savai’i, a group of scientists were airlifted to the top of Mt Silisili where they camped for almost two weeks to survey and assess the situation of flora and fauna in the uplands of Savai’i.

During that time, scientists expected to sight the manumea. But there were no confirmed sightings, therefore leading the scientists to conclude that the number of species has declined to threateningly low numbers.

The lack of sightings is consistent with the decline in recorded numbers so far.

Drastic decline

Dr Ulf Beichle, who studied the manumea in the 1980s and 1990s, estimated the total population at 4800-7200 birds in the mid-1980s. But in the 1990s the population showed a drastic decline owing to the effects of cyclones such that, in 2000, fewer than 2500 mature individuals were believed to survive.

Birdlife International noted that in 1999 and 2000, surveys on Savai’i showed that it had become rare with pairs scattered in suitable habitat.

According to published reports by the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MNRE) an11-month survey in 2005-2006 reported the species from only 10 locations, and the population was estimated to number only a few hundred, although the remote and largely intact uplands of Savai’i remained largely unsurveyed at the time.

The recent BioRap Assessment surveyed that last part of Samoa which MNRE believed would host a number of manumea. However, this was not the case.

One of the scientists who took part in the BioRap was ornithologist Rebecca Stirnmann, who is currently pursuing a National Geographic-sponsored PhD on the study of manumea and m‘aomao.

According to Stirnmann the lack of sightings in Savai’i confirmed a suspicion that the numbers of manumea were “really low”.

“Prior to the BioRap, we thought that Savai’i uplands would be a stronghold for the manumea. However, when we were up there we discovered that we didn’t find any.”

She said there was one potential sighting but it was “unconfirmed”.

“There expectation was that many would be seen, but having not seen any at that time this indicated it was very low.”

According to Stirnmann there is still hope for the manumea if recovery efforts are put into place.

Recovery plan

The options for saving the manumea are clearly outlined in the 2006-2016 Recovery Plan for the manumea, collated and published by MNRE.

In the recovery plan, four options are outlined to bring back the numbers of manumea:

Option 1: Indicates “doing nothing” which would lead to the continuing decline in the numbers and range of the species and bring it closer to extinction, to which now is the case according to the recent survey.

Option 2: Suggests focussing only on conserving forest habitats. The report states: “This option would involve focussing all the effort on securing the forest areas currently occupied by the manumea.

However hunting would continue to be a threat and there would be very limited public support for addressing this issue. It is also uncertain how productive the species is currently in the face of other threats like invasive species.

Option 3: Suggests conserving forest habitats and manage hunting and investigate ways to increase the number of birds and populations. The Recovery Plan states that developing public support is key to this option. “The more secure populations the species has in different locations the greater the chance of it surviving and recovering from localised natural disasters like cyclones.”

Option 4: Suggests investigating the breeding and feeding ecology of the species in detail. “It is uncertain whether the species would maintain or increase its numbers if all the measures in option 3 were put in place. For we know nothing about current breeding success and mortality and it could be that other threats like introduced predators need addressing as well.”

The cause of the decline in numbers of manumea and threats continue to be attributed to natural disasters, hunting, feral cats, rats, loss of forest quality, disease and parasites and climate change.

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson is an independent Samoan environmental journalist

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – pmc@aut.ac.nz

18) Japanese-funded solar project to revolutionise Niue’s power generation

By Online Editor
3:23 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, NiueNiue’s Premier Toke Talagi says work on a major, Japanese-funded, solar power project will begin next year.

The project, which is funded by a $US4 million grant from the Japanese government’s Pacific Environment Community Fund (PEC), will be administered by the government, with technical assistance from the Niue Power Corporation and the island’s private sector.

It will eventually provide up to 30 per cent of Niue’s energy needs.

“It means we will be able to reduce our dependency on oil,” Talagi told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.

“We’re also hoping in the long term to bring our solar production up to about 80 to 90 per cent of our capacity, and eventually also to introduce electric vehicles on the island and reduce our fossil fuel dependency very much to just the bare essentials,” he said.

It expected that the solar power project will save Niue’s government about $AUD110, 000 a year, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 329 tonnes per annum.

According to the Pacific Forum Secretariat, the governments of Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati have already successfully accessed the PEC Fund for national renewable energy and seawater desalination projects.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

19) Micronesian Migrants Increasing Heading To U.S. Mainland
Survey shows departures from Guam, Hawaii for better opportunities

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 14, 2012) – The tide of migration into Guam and Hawaii from the Federated States of Micronesia is easing, said one of two experts who completed a survey this year of the decades-long flight of FSM citizens from their home islands.

The survey, commissioned by the FSM government, shows that more FSM citizens are leaving Guam and Hawaii for better economic prospects in the U.S. mainland, where FSM migrant households tend to have higher incomes than their fellow migrants on Guam. More FSM migrants are also moving directly to the U.S. mainland, the study found.

Father Francis X. Hezel, a Jesuit who lived and provided community outreach in the FSM for 42 years before recently relocating to Guam, pointed out the shifting migration from Guam and Hawaii to the U.S. mainland after an Oct. 2 forum at the University of Guam. Michael Levin, formerly with the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu and the U.S. Census Bureau, worked with Hezel in conducting the study for the FSM government.

At the forum, which followed a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on regional migration trends that affect the island, Guam community members expressed frustration over inadequate financial assistance from the U.S. government for public services and social costs associated with hosting regional migrants.

Guam has reported $323 million in costs associated with hosting migrants from the FSM, Marshall Islands and Palau between 2004 and 2010, or $46 million on average a year. In contrast, the Department of the Interior provides annual funding of $30 million, which is shared primarily between Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Marianas.

“Our analysis of data in affected jurisdictions’ impact reports for 2004 through 2010 found that, reflecting the growing numbers of compact migrants, annual costs for educational services across all jurisdictions increased from approximately $46 million to $89 million, or by 93 percent,” according to a 2011 GAO report presented at the Oct. 2 forum. “Annual costs for health services across all jurisdictions increased from approximately $33 million to $54 million, or by 66 percent.”

Hezel said he understands the frustration some on Guam may feel, but he suggested the island community can be a bit more patient because more FSM migrants aren’t taking root on Guam; they’re being drawn to jobs in the states.

Hezel and Levin surveyed FSM migrants at the request of the FSM national government between February and July 2012.

Survey

Over the past five years, Guam has seen the entry of 375 new immigrants a year from the FSM, in addition to 355 births each year to FSM families, states the survey, conducted between February and July this year.

Hawaii has registered 450 migrants a year and has 140 new births yearly, according to the survey.

The survey did find that more FSM citizens who have moved to Guam and Hawaii eventually leave for stateside opportunities.

The U.S. mainland has been getting 1,200 new migrants a year from the FSM, with one-third of them coming from Guam and Hawaii, along with 555 births to FSM families each year, the survey found.

The total yearly increase of FSM migrants into the U.S. mainland has been 1,755, the study states.

“More than half of all FSM migrants in the last five years have elected to move (to the U.S. mainland), with one-third of them coming by way of Hawaii, Guam and CNMI,” the survey report states. “The choice of city or town in the (United States) seems to have been based upon several considerations: the presence of earlier settlers in the area, the availability of employment in large plants, and affordable housing and tax rates.”

“Welfare benefits did not seem to be a factor in the decision to move to the (U.S. mainland),” according to the study. California, Arkansas and Missouri are some of the migrant families’ destinations.

Higher pay

The survey found that FSM migrants have found higher pay in stateside work places.

“The yearly income for the average household also increased as one moved from west to east,” the survey found.

The survey finding states the following average annual income levels at different areas: $24,800 on Guam; $42,150 in Hawaii, and $62,800 stateside.

Part of the reason FSM migrants have higher average household income in the states than, say, on Guam is that more household members tend to hold jobs when they’re in the states, the survey found.

“Everyone who was not in school or taking care of the children seemed to be working,” the survey’s summary states. “The number of earners was high relative to the number in the household. On Guam, there were 1.8 earners for the average household, in Hawaii 2 earners, and in mainland US 2.2 earners.”

In the U.S. mainland, the kinds of employment taken by FSM migrants include entry-level jobs as housemaids, aides in nursing homes, security guards, deliverymen, cashiers at convenience stores and eateries, among other jobs.

Others worked in food processing plants, canneries and lumber mills.

Many migrants reported that they had held the same job for years, the survey found.

There were a number of individuals who had risen from over-the-counter work in franchises to management positions, the survey states.

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

20) Taiwan Supports Vocational Training in Marshall Islands
Five Marshallese strive to become trainers themselves

 

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 14, 2012) – An advanced training programme is underway in Taiwan to help boost the sustainability of vocational training in the Marshall Islands.

The Taiwanese government is sponsoring five Marshall Islanders to undergo a three month course in electrical and electronic and automobile maintenance.

About 151 Marshallese have undergone vocational courses by the Taiwanese over the past few years.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson says the aim is to equip the group to eventually deliver such training programmes at the College of the Marshall Islands.

“All or most of the five were involved in the previous training when they trained the 151 Marshall Islanders. And they worked with the Taiwanese trainers who were brought in to run the programme. Well this is to try to step up their trainer skill level so that they can lead the training themselves.”

 

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

21) Fiji thump NZ to retain Gold Coast Sevens title

By Online Editor
12:56 pm GMT+12, 15/10/2012, AustraliaFiji retained their Gold Coast Sevens rugby crown with a breathtaking 32-14 win over New Zealand in the opening leg of the IRB Sevens World Series on Sunday.

The Fijians had seven debutants in their squad but were far too strong for New Zealand, who also fielded a young side but were made to look second rate for much of the final.

“I’m so proud of the boys, they did so well this afternoon,” Fiji captain Levani Botia said.

‘I know that we have seven new players but I trusted the boys and I knew that they could come here and make the tackles.”

Lightning quick outside back Ratu Alipate Raitini scored a hat-trick, while Joji Raqamate grabbed a double for the defending champions.

Fiji had earlier stunned tournament favourites South Africa 21-10 in the semi-finals and they were out of the blocks early in the decider, drawing first blood when Raitini crossed in the corner two minutes from the kick-off.

The All Blacks responded immediately when Tim Mickleson took advantage of a perfect bounce from a kick ahead and raced 50 metres to score out wide, with Tomasi Cama’s conversion giving New Zealand a 7-5 lead.

But two quick tries to Raitini and Botia put the defending champions out to a thoroughly deserved 17-7 lead at the break.

They jumped out to 22-7 when Raitini scored his third, a brilliant effort that began deep in his own 22.

The romp continued almost from the restart when Raqamate kicked ahead and regathered over the line as the Fijians continued to delight the crowd with the audacity of their attacking play.

New Zealand tried to come back and pressed hard when Apisalome Waqatabu was off the field with a yellow card, but the Fijians held firm.

Kylem O’Donnell crossed to get the Kiwis closer, only for Ilai Tinai and Raqamate to score five pointers and underline the Fijians’ dominance.

South Africa thumped surprise packets Kenya 41-5 in the third place play-off, while Argentina overcame France 14-7 in the plate final.

Spain beat England for the first time 19-14 to win the bowl final and Scotland won the shield with a 40-5 win over the US .

SOURCE: AFP/PACNEWS

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