Smol Melanesian na pasifik Nius Digest # 835


1) K103m needed to buy land in PNG
By Online Editor
3:44 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

The state needs to pay more than K103 million (US$44.8 million) for the use of customary land in the country, Papua New Guinea Lands Minister Benny Allan told Parliament last Friday.

He said this in response to questions by Komo-Magarima MP Francis Potape, who asked what the State, through the Lands and Physical Planning Department, was doing to acquire land as stated under the Medium Term Development Plan and the Vision 2050.

Potape also asked if a law could be made to ban compensation demands for roads and other development and stop people claiming compensation from land that had been acquired during the colonial era.

He said some landowners had been paid but their records were not available.

Allan said the Lands Department needed K50 million (US$21.7 million) each year to continue to acquire more alienated land from customary landowners.

He said the K13.5 million (US$5.8 million) allocated in the 2013 budget was insufficient to settle the K103 million for outstanding land payments.

Allan said people who had purchased land should cooperate with the Lands Department to have their land surveyed and valued before being granted titles.

Allan said he did not agree with people claiming money from land purchased by the State during the colonial days.

“They were paid and they do not need to be paid again,” he said.

“They should accept that where they were paid salt or axes or whatever, as the leaders at that time agreed. I will not encourage second payment.”

He said there was a need to review existing laws on this matter.


2) Vanuatu Opposition Bloc Grilled In Supreme Court
6 members challenged ruling on no-confidence motion

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 22, 2013) – Vanuatu Opposition Leader Ham Lini, his deputy Sato Kilman and MPs Bruno Lengkon, Tony Nari, Paul Telukluk and Steven Kalsakau – the six witnesses in the Opposition bloc challenging the Speaker of Parliament’s declaration of the 28 signatures on the motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister on July 10, 2013 as not in order – were subject to vigorous cross-examination before Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek in the Supreme Court, yesterday.

Interesting light has been shed on the purported signatures of four MPs whom the Speaker claimed were forged signatures, who are – MPs Arnold Prasad, John Amos, Jonas James and current minister for Justice Toara Daniel who allegedly signed documents on July 10, who acknowledged their names and signatures but stated their original signatures were fixed to a different document for a different purpose and attached to the current motion without their consent.

But serious accusations have been raised by the six witnesses yesterday, explaining the purposes of different signatures, for instance one of the MP allegedly agreed his signature is only valid to be used, on condition his will be the 28th signature when 27 signatures have been collected.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

3) Forum ministerial committee impressed by New Caledonia visit

Posted at 09:40 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

The leader of the Pacific Islands Forum ministerial committee to New Caledonia says he was very impressed by the territory’s commitment to maintaining peace and economic growth despite the uncertainty around future political arrangements.

The Cook Islands prime minister, Henry Puna, last week led the group to observe progress on the implementation of the Noumea Accord on self determination.

Mr Puna says he was pleased at the recognition of the Kanak identity and circumstances as part of the effort to achieve economic and social rebalancing across the country.

He says it was also encouraging to note the widespread recognition that New Caledonia is home to other communities and they should equally benefit from the rebalancing efforts.

Radio New Zealand International


4) ADB Recommends Tonga Reduce Public Service Sector
New report highlights efforts to rebuild economy

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 22, 2013) – A top priority for Tonga is a reduction in the size of its public service and a reduction of the wage bill to 45%, from the current height of about 75% of the government’s annual budget, a new economic report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recommends.

The “ADB Economic Outlook on Tonga for 2012”, released in Nuku’alofa on July 12 highlighted an on-going battle by the Tongan government to revive the economy since the civil servants 60-70-80% salary rise in 2005, and the destruction of the Nuku’alofa Central Business District (CBD) in 2006.

Reconstruction investment brought some temporary relief, and the economy rebounded between 2007 and 2011 with a GDP growth of about 4.7%. The GDP per capita in 2011 was estimated at $4,118.

This growth was attributed to spending on the restructuring of infrastructure financed by development partners, and two multi-million pa’anga loans from the EXIM Bank of China, one for the reconstruction of the Nuku’alofa CBD in 2007 and another for roads rehabilitation in 2010.

Tonga’s external debt in 2011, according to the report was 51.4% of its GDP – more than the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recommended ceiling of 40% of its GDP.

Private sector growth

However, the ADB report, in a more positive tone stated that, “Tonga’s business environment has both strengths and weakness.”

It strongly recommended that for Tonga to attain a sustainable economic growth, it has to invest more in infrastructure and to nurture a private sector-growth economy.

There is also a conviction that Tonga is on the right track to economic recovery, that the World Bank has up-graded Tonga’s external borrowing status from High Risk to Medium Risk. This means that the World Bank will no longer give Tonga a 100% grant; grants from the World Bank will now be 50% grant and 50% loan.

The report identified that state-owned enterprises drained the national budget and hampered economic growth.

It also pointed out that the poor state of Tonga’s physical infrastructure is one of the pressing issues facing government, and is hampering the development of the private sector.

Reduction in public service

The 100-pages report gave a comprehensive sketch of the state of the Tongan economy and recommendations for the Tonga government to implement to get the economy back on track.

Top priority for Tonga is a reduction in the size of its public service and a reduction of the wage bill to 45%, from the current height of about 75% of the government annual budget.

The ADB recommended that for Tonga to reverse its extremely low rates of both capital and labor productivity it must nurture a private-sector-led growth economic policy.

High debt

It has also pointed out that the public debt levels have reached “debt sustainability ceilings, and the effectiveness of infrastructure investment is hampered by a large public wage bill, low levels of capital spending, insufficient resources for operation and maintenance, and poor linkages between policy priorities and budget allocations.”

Rural poverty reduction

On the issue of poverty elimination, the ADB recommended, that first and foremost, there must be a commitment to improve the income-earning opportunities in the rural areas of the outer islands and in the peri-urban areas.

In 2001 16.2% of the population lived below the basic needs poverty line, but by 2009, 22.5% of the population were living below the basic needs poverty line.

Student drop-outs

With regards to the Education Sector, the report stressed that the highest priority should be accorded to reducing dropout and repetition rates in primary and secondary education, as these are the areas where scope for quality improvement in basic education would be critical.

The report noted that there is a poor performance of students prior to Form 4, and a high repetition and dropout rates after Form 4.

The ADB Tonga Economic Update and outlook 2012 also recommended for government to appoint an Anti-corruption Commissioner.

Matangi Tonga Magazine:


5) New minister moves to save Pacific trade deal
By Online Editor
10:08 am GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Australia

New Australian Trade Minister Richard Marles’s first overseas assignment has been to rescue the flagging efforts to conclude a trade deal that encompasses the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand.

Recently, Papua New Guinea threatened to pull out from the move to create a Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus. Given PNG’s dominance of the islands group, that would undermine the whole deal.

PNG Trade Minister Richard Maru, a former head of the state-owned PNG Development Bank, said recently:

“There is no benefit to us” in PACER Plus. The talks “are a complete waste of time”.

He said that under the PNG-Australia Trade and Commercial Relations Agreement that dated back to 1976, virtually all PNG goods entered Australia duty free already.

There are 30 pages of exemptions to this bilateral deal, almost all of them protecting PNG industry. Mr Maru pointed out that PNG gained almost $2 billion a year from duty charged on Australian imports.

Two-way trade between the countries has reached $7bn a year.

“Our feelings at the moment are that PACER Plus would be one-sided in favour of Australia and New Zealand. We are frustrated with them. We can’t export our taro there, they won’t accept our greens,” Maru said.

He said he would rather consolidate the Melanesian Spearhead Group trade agreement that covers PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, the islands region’s main population centres.

Maru recently convened a summit for small and medium businesses in Madang that promoted the extension of industries for which imports are restricted.

Marles — who as former Pacific Islands secretary is highly familiar with the region — accompanied Kevin Rudd to PNG early last week and stayed on for substantial talks with Maru.

He also flew to Honiara for discussions with the Solomon Islands government, chiefly on trade and economic issues.

“We think that PACER Plus is a really important trading initiative,” Marles said.

Aid was important, he said, in helping the development of the region — with Australia spending $1.6bn this year — but he added that “promoting economic integration is more important”.

“The key to development is building a thriving private sector, and connecting the Pacific with the Australian market is the most significant thing we can do to see the region develop,” Marles said.

Labour mobility played an important role, he said, underlining the value of Australia’s seasonal workers’ program for Pacific Islanders.

Marles said: “It’s fair to say that PACER Plus has had a slow gestation, but significant progress has been made” since Ugandan trade veteran Edwini Kessie was appointed as chief trade adviser to the islands 18 months ago.

“I was keen to make those points to my PNG counterpart about the significance we place on PACER Plus, and that message was heard,” Marles added.

“Papua New Guinea has a very important leadership role to play on all matters in the Pacific.”

Marles said Maru was also “very receptive” to discussions about building bilateral economic relations.

“A lot of Australian companies are doing very well in PNG, and in turn Australia can represent an important market place for PNG products,” he said.

Making PNG his first overseas visit in the trade portfolio was symbolic, he said, of how both governments were “seeking to change the nature of the relationship, to one which is more equal”.

The Australia PNG Business Council was “full of energy” in also pursuing this goal, he said.

Frank Yourn, who is executive director of the Australia-PNG, Fiji and Pacific Islands Business Councils, said the Business Council of PNG had now sought to take up the offer of Australian funding for a study into the impact of PACER Plus on the PNG economy.

He said all three councils were supportive of the concept of PACER Plus.

“But there are a lot of challenges in creating a single agreement between such disparate economies. It’s therefore important for each to work out what is best for them,” Yourn said.

He said such a deal should include labour as well as goods and services.



6) New Zealand Military Takes Lead In Pacific Island Aid Programme
By Online Editor
10:09 am GMT+12, 23/07/2013, New Zealand

The New Zealand military will lead a major multi-national aid exercise in some of its smaller Pacific island neighbours this year, focusing on the tiny nation of Kiribati, Xinhua news agency reported.

New Zealand navy’s multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury on Monday sailed for Kiribati to lead the annual Pacific Partnership mission (PP13), involving its six partner nations of the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Japan and Malaysia.

The mission includes among others the disposal of live ammunition left on the reef after the 1943 Battle of Tarawa in WWII, refurbishment of a bridge, a hydrographic survey of the port at Betio, and renovation of an accommodation block at the Kiribati Teachers College.

Deputy Mission Commander, New Zealand navy Captain Tony Millar, said this was the first year that New Zealand had an active leadership role in the Pacific Partnership.

“These projects will complement New Zealand’s broader programme of development support for Kiribati, which focuses on lifting economic performance, boosting workforce skills and fostering sustainable-liveable urban areas,” High Commissioner Mike Walsh said.

HMNZS Canterbury will also deliver 42 hospital beds and an ambulance to a remote area of the Solomon Islands.

Pacific Partnership was launched in 2005 after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and involves the military forces and non-governmental organisations in joint activities.



7) PNG: les Papous, pas convaincus par le plan Rudd

Mis à jour 23 July 2013, 14:42 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Peter O’Neill, le Premier ministre, a du monter au créneau pour défendre le projet d’installer les migrants refusés par l’Australie en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

« Homme 1 : nous ne voulons pas qu’ils vivent chez nous, ce n’est pas leur pays ici.
Femme 1 : Je ne crois pas que nous ayons les moyens de les accueillir. Peut-être que dans leur pays d’origine, ils bénéficieraient de plus de services qu’ici en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. L’État n’a déjà pas les moyens de s’occuper des Papous, alors…
Homme 2 : Nous avons besoin que l’État s’occupe de nous, alors comment pourrait-il s’occuper de tous ces étrangers ?
Homme 3 : bien sûr, ils méritent notre respect, ce sont des êtres humains, nous ferons en sorte qu’ils vivent dignement et qu’ils aient la vie qu’ils cherchaient, et nous sommes tous frères et sœurs. »

Les réactions des passants dans les rues de Port-Moresby hier. Le pays est en émoi depuis l’annonce que les migrants qui visent l’Australie seront installés en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée de manière permanente.

Les blogs et autres médias sociaux papous eux aussi regorgent de commentaires outrés, d’internautes qui sont définitivement opposés à un afflux massif de migrants dans leur pays.

Alors hier le Premier ministre papou a du monter au créneau pour se justifier. Peter O’Neill a rappelé lors d’une conférence de presse que les gouvernements successifs n’avaient pas amélioré les infrastructures, construit de routes, d’hôpitaux et d’université, et que cet accord sur les migrants avec l’Australie était une chance inespérée d’améliorer les services dans le pays.

« Bien sûr, nous avons profité de ce problème des demandeurs d’asile, pour négocier des contreparties avec le gouvernement australien. Donc je pense qu’au bout du compte, l’accueil de ces demandeurs d’asile est une bonne nouvelle pour les Papous. Pour la première fois, nous avons pu réformer le programme d’aide de l’Australie en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. C’est désormais mon gouvernement, et non le gouvernement australien, qui établira les priorités de l’aide au développement. »

Le Premier ministre n’a pas indiqué où seront construits les nouveaux centres d’accueil de migrants en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. Sur la défensive, il a précisé que son pays n’accueillerait pas la totalité des migrants refusés par l’Australie.

« Nous verrons d’abord combien de migrants nous pouvons prendre dans notre propre pays, et ensuite nous entamerons des négociations avec d’autres pays de la région pour voir combien de vrais réfugiés ils pourraient accueillir. Mais nous nous intéresserons aux autres pays du monde aussi. »

Sur internet les commentaires islamophobes reviennent souvent. Les internautes papous craignent un afflux de musulmans dans leur pays, qui est très chrétien. Voici la réponse de Peter O’Neill :

« Ces peurs ne sont pas fondées. Nous sommes un pays très chrétien. Le Christ nous a demandé de montrer de la compassion, d’aider ceux qui sont dans le besoin. »

Ce matin l’un des quotidiens papous affiche la photo d’un SDF papou en une, pointant ainsi les besoins criants des Papous, à traiter avant ceux des migrants. Un autre journal hier titrait simplement « Ruddicule », un jeu de mot sur le nom du Premier ministre australien, Kevin Rudd, à l’origine de ce plan d’installation des migrants en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.


8) Press forum condemns shut down of West Papua magazine

Posted at 09:40 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

The Pacific Freedom Forum says police actions to stop distribution of a new magazine in West Papua break press laws of Indonesia and must be condemned.

The forum has joined the Indonesian Press Council in criticising police for their actions against the magazine, Papua Pelita.

The magazine dedicated its first issue to reporting on the Organisation of Papua Freedom, with a cover featuring the West Papua pro-independence flag – which is banned by authorities in West Papua.

Magazine publishers had already distributed 2,000 copies of the inaugural edition when police arrived and instructed them not to distribute any further copies.

The chairperson of the Pacific Freedom Forum, Titi Gabi, says there are specific laws that back press freedom and expressly prohibit police from banning media organisations in Indonesia.

Papua Police have denied there was any ban, saying it was just a check up to see if there was any seditious material.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Kundu 2 signal to go nationwide
By Online Editor
3:34 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Government will have a nationwide rollout programme for the Kundu 2 television service if it approves a submission made to it recently, Communication Minister Jimmy Miringtoro told Parliament last week.

Miringtoro said this when replying to questions without notice from Anglimp-South Waghi MP Joe Koim, who asked if the Kundu 2 network would be expanded and rolled out to cover all the districts in the country to allow the people to be informed of what the government programmes were and what the Government was doing that would affect their lives.

He said the station was established as an independence gift from the government of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to the people of Papua New Guinea with funding of K30 million.

He said the Government allocated another K9 million for the roll-out programme but the funds were not sufficient to cover the entire country.

Miringtoro said only a few provinces had been covered, while other provinces and districts were yet to receive Kundu 2’s signal.

He said his ministry, through the management of the National Broadcasting Corporation, was pushing for the roll-out programme throughout the country.



10) Muslim teachers to remove veils in Philippines classrooms

Updated 23 July 2013, 19:39 AEST

Philippines orders Muslim teachers to remove veils to promote better teacher-pupil relations.

Philippines has ordered Muslim teachers to remove their veils inside classrooms in a bid to promote better relationships between teachers and pupils.

Philippines’ education secretary Armin Luistro says the move was part of reforms to make schools more sensitive to religion.

According to the order, Muslim schoolgirls will continue to be allowed to wear the veil or “hijab” on campuses as well as “appropriate clothing” in gym class.

Female Muslim school teachers have been ordered to remove the veil during lessons so they can interact better with students but will be allowed to wear the veil outside class.

The order states having Muslim female teachers remove their veils allows for proper identification of the teachers by their pupils, thus promoting better teacher-pupil relationship.

It also states being able to see the teachers’ faces helps in teaching language, where “lip formation” plays a role in pronouncing certain letters

The government’s office of Muslim affairs says it agrees with the education department’s measures though it has yet to receive a copy of the order.

Roque Morales, an adviser to the office, says he does not know how many Muslim Filipinas are working as teachers but that the practice of wearing veils is widespread in southern Philippines.

He says the office has not received any complaints from Muslim teachers.

The office says Muslims make up about 15 percent of the Catholic majority nation.


11) Solomons Teachers Who Continue Strike Risk Pay Cuts
SINTA says educators remain committed to protest

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 22, 2013) – Teachers in the Solomon Islands who continue with their strike action today faces cut to their salaries back dated to last week.

This was confirmed by the government in a statement last night.

Teachers last week agreed to go on strike despite Government’s assurance the first 900 teachers will receive their re-leveling and increment dues this Thursday.

The decision to continue the strike was reached last week during a meeting between Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) executive and Honiara-based teachers.

It came a day after outspoken SINTA president Samson Faisi was forced, allegedly through government pressure, to step aside.

Mr. Faisi, now SINTA’s industrial relations officer, told the Solomon Star last week the members are not backing down:

“The strike will continue. This is what teachers have agreed on.

“It will continue until all teachers are paid their dues.”

He said they were aware of the list of teachers Cabinet approved to receive their dues this coming Thursday.

But he said this is not the first time the government has made a promise.

“We’ve seen unfulfilled promises before.

“This time teachers want to see their re-leveling and increments paid before they can return to classes,” he said.

But in a statement last night the government has accused SINTA of ignorance by voting to go on strike despite its commitment to pay the teachers this week.

“In response to that, the Government will start deducting the salaries of the teachers who are party to the strike, dating back to July 15th.”

The statement issued last night said that the teachers’ decision to boycott classes despite a positive response on its part was totally uncalled for and showed bad faith on the side of the teachers.

It said as a responsible association, SINTA should have encouraged its members to return to work whilst the Government had shown commitment to pay the teachers that are entitled to re-leveling and those that qualify for increments.

Government will this week pay teachers from 21 Education Authorities (EA) of the total 29 (EA).

The statement said SINTA knew the difficulties in finalizing the civil list but yet it acted irresponsibly by opting out of the task force.

“We can’t continue to pay for those who withdraw their labor,” the statement said.

According to the Government, the deduction will be implemented as soon as schools and teachers affected are identified by the ministry of education.

The Government has been in constant contact with education authorities and it knows exactly schools and teachers that join the strike and their teachers.

“Those people will have their salaries deducted in the course of the coming weeks,” it said.

Cabinet last Thursday approved a list of SINTA and non-SINTA members who will be paid their re-level and increment on July 25.

Those to be paid are part of the 21 Education Authorities agreed and finalized by the taskforce appointed to look into the teachers’ issue.

The teachers’ names that have been approved for re-leveling and increment have been published in one of the print media outlets yesterday.

Now, only eight Education Authorities are left and Cabinet said this will be finalized soon and have the remaining teachers paid.

This is the third strike teachers have taken this year over non-payment of their dues.

Solomon Star


12) Fiji breadfruit project predicts rise of new orchards in Nadi

Posted at 09:40 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

A new project in Fiji has plantation farmers converting from the sugar cane industry.

The first real fruits of the Pacific Breadfruit Project are not due for five years and so far there are only ten farmers working on two properties in Nadi, but a demand from New Zealand for breadfruit has prompted the experiment.

Labourers say they are earning more than sugar cane farmers and are learning new skills, but they are still in the observation stage and will have to choose between hardy trees that take five years to fruit, and faster-fruiting varieties that might not stand up to cyclones and flooding.

The project is sponsored by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and managed by Nature’s Way Cooperative and the Koko Siga company.

The manager, Levai Tora, says they want to plant 20,000 breadfruit trees by 2015.

“At the moment we have ten farmers and we are actually looking for another 90 farmers. If you can have a hundred farmers with at least two acres each which is a hundred trees each, you can make an impact.”

Levai Tora.

Radio New Zealand International

13) Air Niugini unveils additional flights to Fiji, Indonesia
By Online Editor
3:41 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Air Niugini will have additional flights for the domestic sector and direct services to Bali in Indonesia and Nadi, Fiji.

Chief executive Simon Foo announced last Friday that the new schedule will take effect on Aug 5.

“It will see additional flights to Mt Hagen, Lae, Goroka and Vanimo.

“The additional Vanimo service is direct and will be on Monday, while the flight will be re-routed via Madang on the other days.

“There will be an additional service to Lae on Monday and Friday, while an extra flight to Goroka will be on Monday.

“Mt Hagen will see an additional flight daily, bringing to total five flights per day,” Foo said.

He said the direct Buka services on Tuesday and Thursday will be re-routed via Lae, while all Hagen flights would be retimed to leave early.

“There will be an upgrade of equipment for the Popondetta services with the Q400 operating on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”

Foo said the changes have been made to cater for the demand on these routes.

“On the international front, Air Nugini will begin its inaugural flight to the exotic island resort of Indonesia, Bali on Aug 5 and will stay overnight and return the next day.

“The introductory return airfare to Bali is at K999 per person.”

There would also be a direct Port Moresby-Nadi (Fiji) service on Aug 13.

“This flight also stays overnight and returns the next day … with the direct service, Air Niugini will now fly three times a week to Nadi.

“The airline’s current operations to Nadi via Honiara (Solomon Islands) remain as per the schedule.

Foo said the direct Cebu flights on Monday will no longer overnight but return the same night.


14) Vanuatu To Hold 2nd National Trade Meeting In July
Meeting meant to promote sustainable economic growth

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 22, 2013) – Prime Minister Moana Carcasses, who is also minister responsible of Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business has said the second National Trade Development Committee (NTDC) meeting for this year will take place on July the 22 at the Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila.

The NTDC is the highest-level inter-ministerial body for discussing trade issues. It is composed of members from various government departments, private sector and observers from international organizations and donor partners. The organization of the meeting is administratively managed by the Department of External Trade of the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business and financially supported through the Productive Sector Growth Support Program (PSGSP) funded by the European Union.

The NTDC was established by the Government of Vanuatu to coordinate and spearhead trade policy discussions for the Government of Vanuatu under the chairmanship of the Minister responsible for Trade. Meetings organized by the NTDC are vital as part of promoting sustainable economic growth by mainstreaming trade and getting a wide range of views to guide the work of external trade for Vanuatu. Outcomes from this meeting are well-documented and provide directions to the operations of the Department of External Trade and the public and private stockholders who play a crucial role on national trade development.

Items on the agenda for discussion in this forthcoming NTDC meeting will include, among other things; an update on the tourism initiatives, Trade Policy Framework recommendation with regards to value addition in the domestic manufacturing sectors, progress on the on-going work on Migration and Development; recommendations with regard to the improvement of air connections including through Airspace Services Agreements and updated progress on Vanuatu’s preferential trade negotiations to ensure their consistency with Vanuatu’s overall overarching policy objectives. On trade negotiations this will include discussions on ongoing negotiations by Vanuatu and the European Union on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the MSG Trade Agreement, PICTA, PACER and other bilateral trade partners.

The NTDC Secretariat looks forward to the ongoing support and collaboration from its members and observers through continuous participation and active contribution towards fruitful and constructive discussions.

As the Secretariat of the NTDC, Mr. Sumbue Antas, Director of the Department of External Trade explained that the agenda coverage is extensive and stated that “we encourage a healthy exchange of views on the trade agenda. Noting the recent private sector forum views on free trade agreements, we hope that the private sector representatives in the NTDC will be able to project their views in a way that moves the trade agenda forward and ensuring that the people of Vanuatu benefit from it.”

On whether the issues of the Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board (VCMB) will be discussed as previously done at the NTDC meeting in March 2013, Mr. Antas stated that “Issues regarding the trade in copra and in particular the VCMB had previously been on the agenda but the Vanuatu Government has yet to present a draft architecture to replace a VCMB and so, this might be placed on the agenda at the next meeting. Notwithstanding that, Vanuatu’s Industry Policy calls for more valued added production in Vanuatu and so a gradual progress towards expanded coconut products value addition may be considered.”

Vanuatu Daily Post:

15) Expensive PNG Internet Service Providers Criticized
Weather service official: PNG lags behind due to high costs

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 22, 2013) – Internet service providers (ISPs) have been bluntly accused of ripping off the people of Papua New Guinea when it comes to internet services.

Acting director of National Weather Service (NWS) Samuel Maiha lashed out at the predominantly foreign-owned ISPs in no uncertain terms during the launching of its state-of-the-art Very Short Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite communication system last Friday.

He said PNG was way behind the rest of the world in information and communications technology (ICT) and children were missing out on so many educational opportunities because of the ridiculously high internet costs in this country.

Maihe said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could not develop when internet costs were so high. Previously, the NWS used an ISP in Port Moresby, however, very high costs monthly costs and limited access forced them to seek VSAT services.

The new system, set up by 100% nationally-owned company Wanples Wireless, which is owned by USA-based PNG telecommunications and satellite engineer Mathew Wari and his family, allows NWS staff to have satellite access to real-time weather conditions in PNG and around the world at a fixed rate of K10,000 [US$4,513] a month with unlimited internet downloads – which will save the organization millions of kina in the long haul.

“The internet rates in this country are the highest anywhere in the world,” Maiha told guests including school children.

“I believe there is gross collusion on the part of internet service providers to exploit the citizens of this country of their right to information, knowledge, and development. I say this because in the 21st Century, information, technology and communication are power, and infrastructure such as this milestone installation is a stepping stone.

“Our children need to learn at the same level with their counterparts elsewhere in the world to be on par in terms of knowledge.”

[PIR editor’s note: The National also reports that U.S.-based engineer and telecommunications expert Mathew Wari said the main reason for internet access being so expensive in PNG is because the country lacks infrastructure, like optical fiber rings; without such support, Wari says internet will be hard to roll out.]

The National:

16) Fiji spectrum bidding
By Online Editor
10:07 am GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Fiji

Vodafone, Digicel and Telecom Fiji Limited have all made successful bids in the first-ever auction of frequencies on the radio spectrum that opened Monday.

Notices posted by the Department of Communications yesterday showed that of the three telecommunications providers, only Vodafone filled their 30 MHz quota and had left the ongoing 4G spectrum auction leaving TFL and Digicel to bid for the remaining frequencies.

Each company had a quota of 30 MHz.

In total, there were 20 lots of spectrum to bid for with bids ranging from $131,500 (US$69,761) to $504,700 (US$267,747) by the close of the auctions yesterday. The auction will run until 26 July.

By the close of the last round of bidding yesterday, Vodafone successfully bid for six lots of spectrum — paying $144,000 (US$76,393) for each of them.

Vodafone Fiji’s managing director Aslam Khan said the spectrum bidding process was transparent with all industry players given a fair opportunity to participate and bid for the frequency spectrums on offer.

“Vodafone Fiji was able to secure and win all the frequencies for which it had placed its bid at a reasonable price,” Khan said.

Digicel successfully bid for three lots, spending $420,500 (US$223,078) for two and paying $420,300 (US$222,972) for the third.

Digicel commercial director Andrew Skelton said Digicel was happy to have secure 15Mhz in the 700 band adding that this underscored their commitment to their customers. He said he would be able to make further comments once the bidding had closed.

TFL meanwhile successfully bid for three lots, paying the highest bid of $504,700(US$267,747) for each of them.

Overall, about $3.6 million (US$1.9 million) was spent on the first day of bidding with 12 lots snapped up by the competing companies.



17) PNG prison escapee Kapris killed in a shoot-out with police

Posted at 23:20 on 22 July, 2013 UTC

Notorious Papua New Guinea bank robber William Kapris has been killed in a shoot-out with police, ending a nearly three-month man-hunt.

AAP reports Kapris and his accomplice Raphael Walimini were shot and killed on Monday evening near Bereina government station, about 45 kilometres outside of Port Moresby.

Police Commander Jim Andrews told reporters they caught up with him following a tip off from the public.

He added as they were moving in to apprehend them there was an exchange of fire.

Police had offered a more than 925-thousand US dollar reward for the pair.

No police officers were injured in the shoot-out.

The grounds of Port Moresby General Hospital was teeming with armed police on Monday night.

More than 30 were used in the operation to recapture Kapris, who was known in PNG for a series of robberies at Bank of the South Pacific branches.

Kapris and Walimini escaped PNG’s Bomana prison on May 14 after walking out the front gate.

In 2010, the country’s most wanted serial bank robber escaped from custody in a Toyota truck after taking a warder hostage.

He was aided that time by a woman who, posing as a lawyer, pulled a gun on guards.

He was re-arrested a short time later, along with several jail staff who allegedly assisted his escape.

It was not the first time Kapris had escaped PNG’s justice system.

Before being captured in 2008, he had been on the run for eight years after escaping police detention while convalescing at Port Moresby General Hospital.

Radio New Zealand International

18) No major changes after decade of RAMSI says academic

Posted at 09:40 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

An Australian academic says a decade of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, or RAMSI, has not changed much for the average Solomon Islander.

Clive Moore’s comment comes as RAMSI prepares to mark its 10th anniversary along with its transition to a policing-only operation.

The mission, which has been led by Australia and has cost that country more than US$2 billion, followed five years of tensions from 1998 thought to have killed about 200 people and displaced more than 20,000.

Professor Moore says RAMSI’s static focus over the 10 years may have been at the expense of a wider, more effective agenda.

CLIVE MOORE: Solomon Islanders vastly would say that they appreciate RAMSI having been there and what RAMSI has done in ten years. But RAMSI has also worked its own agenda in that time. It decided to reform bureaucracy, reform the judiciary, fix up the police, which was needed – things like that. And RAMSI didn’t put resources into infrastructure development because it said that was really beyond the capacity some governments should be doing. But many of my criticisms relate, really, to infrastructure development, if you’re taking about development on other areas of Guadalcanal and Malaita, in particular. Maybe the agenda should have been wider, however RAMSI doesn’t have never-ending pockets. Their money is large, but they’re not a government. One of the criticisms, and it’s a typical criticism in the Pacific, is that governments don’t necessarily develop rural areas in the way we would expect in Australia or New Zealand in terms of sanitation, in terms of roads, hospitals and things like that.

ANNELL HUSBAND: But even urban areas?

CM: Well, yes. The money is not put into… Well, it’s put into the main areas, but if you go to the areas in Honiara which are sort of village suburbs…

AH: You don’t have to go far.

CM: You don’t have to go very far to find people that are still washing under a tap.

AH: Or in the river.

CM: Or in the river, and even if the electricity goes past their door can’t afford it, and really don’t have adequate sanitation, water, electricity. So the way the government has always worked there is exploiting large-scale exploitation of natural resources like fish, timber and minerals, and not really trying to develop any sort of grassroots economic development or rural development. And I think that’s a criticism which you could use much more widely in the Pacific, that governments have chosen almost the easy way out of going for the larger resources, rather than developing from the base up. So it means that urban areas come out of it all right, unless you live in the village extensions of urban areas, and then it’s a hard life. Look, it’s a hard life in Honiara for people who have 10 or 15 people living in their house who don’t really know at the end of a pay period how they’re going to find enough rice or cassava to feed people. And knowing that there might only be one or two breadwinners to support a group of 10 or 15 people – to pay school fees, to buy the clothes, everything like that. I don’t know how they manage.

AH: So in a decade that’s the same as it ever was, isn’t it?

CM: Nothing much has changed. If you stand back and look at the major things that caused the problem, it was growing discontent in Honiara. Now, Honiara has increased in size. They tell me it’s getting very close to 100,000 people now, the wider Honiara area. One tenth of the country is tied up in Honiara and that is… That’s pretty frightening, I think, in a Pacific nation. But the heart of the Solomons…

AH: Why do you say it’s frightening?

CM: Well, ’cause Honiara will grow. I used to live in Port Moresby. I can see Honiara becoming Port Moresby. It’s a far way off yet, but when you have an unemployed underclass of youths who really have no hope of getting jobs they can become quite explosive and they can be led very easily. And eventually all you can do, as a middle class, is fortify yourself and live behind barbed wire. Now, that’s not what has happened so far in Honiara. But as squatters move in to areas and as people become more disenchanted, it has the potential to become another Port Moresby.

Radio New Zealand International


19) Human rights activist believes new Australian immigration policy could work

Posted at 03:21 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

An Australian-based migration agent and human rights advocate says the country’s new immigration policy with Papua New Guinea could stem the flow of boat arrivals.

Australia and PNG announced on Friday that all boat people headed for Australia who are subsequently found to be genuine refugees will be resettled in PNG.

Marion Le says she has never supported people arriving by boat because of the dangers posed to them and believes asylum seekers should be safely processed in Indonesia or Malaysia to prevent them from making the boat journey.

She says Australia had to do something to prevent more boat arrivals and believes the policy could work.

“If we can stop the boats but also begin to really assess people or bring in some of the forty thousand people who are waiting in Indonesia who are UNHCR recognised refugees, if in Australia we can say okay we will take you know, say ten thousand of those people over the next two or three years, I think we can manage the situation much better than has been happening in the last few years here. It’s been deplorable.”

Marion Le says she has heard a report that warnings about the new policy have already put off some Afghan people from getting on a boat to Australia.

Radio New Zealand International

20) Australia wants more Pacific nations to host asylum seeker processing centres: Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Updated 23 July 2013, 20:30 AEST

Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia is looking for another Pacific nation to host an offshore asylum seeker processing centre in addition to those already located in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Senator Carr has been holding talks with the prime minister of Solomon Islands, marking the end of Australia’s military involvement in the regional assistance mission. Under the plan announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday, people arriving at Christmas Island will be processed offshore, but there are fears the existing centres on Nauru and PNG will not be big enough.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia is looking for another Pacific nation to host an offshore asylum seeker processing centre in addition to those already located in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Senator Carr has been holding talks with the prime minister of Solomon Islands, marking the end of Australia’s military involvement in the regional assistance mission to stop the Solomons’ slide into becoming a failed state a decade ago.

Under the plan announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday, people arriving at Christmas Island will be processed offshore, but there are fears the existing centres on Nauru and PNG will not be big enough.

Key points

Foreign Minister Bob Carr holds talks in Solomon Islands
Senator Carr says he will discuss asylum centres with Solomons PM ‘if it comes up’
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott accuses Labor of not taking its new regime seriously
Immigration Minister Tony Burke to visit Nauru to inspect riot damage

Senator Carr says it is up to Pacific nations to volunteer to help Australia and not for him to “twist anyone’s arms” to demand they participate.

“If, as it develops with Papua New Guinea, it appeals to other nations in the Pacific to talk to us about them participating, then we stand ready to engage with them,” he said.

“I’m not here to make a submission to the prime minister, I’m not here to raise it with him.

“But if it comes up because we’re talking about regional issues, I’ll most certainly explain that Australia is coping with a sharp spike in the number of people brought to our waters by people smugglers, and that this regional resettlement arrangement is a practical and humane solution to that.”

He says it is already on the record that Australia wants to talk to other nations in the Pacific about the regional resettlement arrangement.

Audio: Listen to Peter Lloyd’s interview with Bob Carr (PM)

“I’m not here to attempt to twist anyone’s arms or to mount a case,” he said.

“If other nations in the Pacific see the value in what we’re doing, especially as they participate in conferences and discussions about the impact of human trafficking and people smuggling, then we stand ready to talk to them about it.

“[Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo], like other leaders in the Pacific, can observe that our relationship with Papua New Guinea on regional resettlement works to the advantage of both Australia and PNG, and to the advantage of a more regular and human migration program, enabling Australia to do the things we want to do.

“That is, end the practice of people smugglers causing these disasters at sea, and enabling us to consider expanding further our humanitarian intake, drawing people from the camps around the world where they want a chance to come to Australia by regular means.”

Abbott accuses Labor of not taking its new regime seriously

Audio: Listen to Samantha Hawley’s report (PM)

Since Mr Rudd announced his tougher asylum seeker policy last Friday, 207 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says if Labor is serious about its new regime, those people will be sent to Manus Island immediately.

“Not a single one of them has so far gone to Manus Island, and if Mr Rudd is serious about intimidating the people smugglers and their customers, people have got to be leaving for Manus Island now,” he said.

Mr Abbott says that means within the next 24 to 48 hours.

“The test of whether Mr Rudd is fair dinkum is clear: will every single illegal arrival by boat from Friday end up in Manus, and will they be sent now?” he said.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke says it was always made clear that asylum seekers coming here would be subject to rigorous health checks and vaccinations before being sent to Manus.

“You cannot do these checks within 24 to 48 hours and Tony Abbott knows that,” he said.

“He’s a former health minister. To see a former health minister dare us to not conduct the health checks is about as extraordinary as it gets.”

Video: Manus Island locals welcome PNG-Australia deal (ABC News)

The health checks could take up to two weeks, giving the Government time to relocate the asylum seekers who are already on Manus Island but are not subject to new, stricter rules.

The Coalition has indicated it will not abandon the package altogether if it is elected this year, but it is casting doubt over whether it can work and about the legitimacy of deals done with Papua New Guinea.

Mr Rudd says Mr Abbott is sending a mixed message to people smugglers around the world.

“By sending that mixed message to people smugglers around the world, it seems to me that the result would be to try and muddy the waters,” he said.

“Therefore, maybe it’s in his political interests not to see this agreement work.”

Tony Burke to visit Nauru to inspect riot damage

Meanwhile, Mr Burke will travel to Nauru on Friday, where he will meet officials and inspect the tens of millions of dollars damage Friday’s fire and riot caused the island’s detention centre.

More than 100 asylum seekers have been charged over the incident and Mr Burke says he expects those involved to face the full force of the Nauruan law.

“The way the criminal law of Nauru will come down on the people who were involved in the riot will send a message that won’t be lost on anyone, anywhere in the detention network,” he said.

“I think if anyone was in any doubt as to whether or not you are somehow insulated from criminal law because you are in detention they will discover the cold, hard truth of the matter.”

Immigration and law enforcement insiders have told the ABC it was obvious trouble was brewing at the Nauru detention centre well before the riot.

Nauru’s government says rebuilding has started at the processing centre, but it could take months to complete.

Video: Were warnings of Nauru detention centre riot ignored?(7.30)

Acting president David Adeang says the government is also reassessing its policy regarding asylum seekers’ access to the wider community.

He sacked his Australian police commissioner, Richard Britten, during Friday night’s riot over disagreements about calling for backup.

Mr Adeang says he authorised the deployment of 200 young Nauruan men to support the police and security guards who were trying to control the riots.

“We had a disagreement with the commissioner over how we thought the incident would be handled by the Nauru police forces,” he said.

“We found we had no confidence in his views, in his attitude, his approach to handling the protest.”

He says Mr Britten’s replacement may end up getting the police commissioner’s job permanently.


21a) Fiji, Guam confirm teams for Pacific Island Triathlon and Cycling championships
By Online Editor
1:16 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Guam  and Fiji will be sending the highest number of athletes for the Pacific Island Triathlon and Cycling championships in Port Moresby next month.

Both countries are fielding six competitors each, while the Solomon Islands have yet to confirmed their number for the August 24-25 event.

It is anticipated a number of high profile athletes from Far North Australia, in particular Cairns, will take part as well.

The event will be the biggest gathering of the region’s triathletes and cyclists in Papua New Guinea.
With four weeks before the tournament is staged, the Papua New Guinea team will comprise of the 2015 PNG Games development squad members which include Mairi Feeger (Canberra, Aust), Port Moresby’s Rachel Sapery-James (pictured), Susie Shaun Pini (National Capital District), Jamie Campbell (Wewak), Casmer Junior Kamangip (Wewak), Vianney Kipma (Wewak) and Polihau Popeliau (Manus).

Team Triathlon Fiji will comprise of Lui Pene, Christian Carling, Nau Adivuti Dakuiliga, Peteroa and others while Team Guam is Peter Lombard, and their national champions Gabe Lombard and Alfredo Perez.

The Solomon Islands team list is yet to be announced.

The last Pacific Island Triathlon and Cycling championship was held in Fiji where Papua New Guinea finished in the top five of island countries.

21b) Fiji Rugby Union clears air on women’s rugby

By Online Editor
1:16 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Fiji

The Fiji Women’s Rugby Union is not a defunct body and is in operation according to the Fiji Rugby Union.

FRU chairman Filimone Waqabaca says the FWRU is in the process of sorting themselves out and they want this to be done as soon as possible especially after a stellar performance in the Rugby World Cup.

“No it’s not a defunct body, they are still very much active. They are re-organising themselves and they have been holding meetings. They are looking at a review of their constitution so it’s a happening body.”

FRU also expects administrative changes once the constitution is in place.

FWRU is hoping that some confusion which exists between them and the national team management is over for the betterment of the game.

Meanwhile,  the Fiji Deaf team is preparing to depart for Bulgaria for the Deaflympic Games at the end of the month.

The 13-member team will be participating in table tennis and beach volleyball.

Fiji Association of the Deaf official Gayle Seru says some members of the squad have participated in recent tournaments such as the Fiji Games, which has served them well for the upcoming tournament.

“With participation at national and regional games, the team have had some exposure and we believe they are now ready for the Deaflympic Games.”

The team is made up of secondary school students, with experienced reps Vivienne Bale and Philip Wing expected to lead the side.


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