Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 891

MELANESIA:

1) NGOs describe tight muzzling of expression in West Papua

Posted at 23:45 on 12 November, 2013 UTC

The Papuan Coalition of Civil Society Upholding Law and Human Rights has accused Indonesian authorities of stifling freedom of expression in West Papua.

The Jakarta Post reports that a coalition member, Ferry Marisan, says that events in recent months show that in West Papua the demonstration as an expression of opinion has been strictly muzzled.

This follows the arrests last week of dozens of students demonstrating against a draft law on special autonomy at the Papuan People Assembly as well as the campus of Cenderawasih University in Jayapura.

Five students remain in custody.

Papua Police say one of them is allegedly involved in a criminal case and the other four are charged with causing inconvenience

Mr Marisan says repression by authorities of freedom of expression is a continuation of the old policy in Indonesia under the former dictator, President Suharto.

Meanwhile, Papua Kontras, an NGO concerned mainly on the disappearance of activists, says police have become more repressive instead of persuasive and are too quick to arrest people.

Radio New Zealand International

2) O’Neill vows to probe land sale 

By TODAGIA KELOLA

THE huge land next to the Jack Pidik Park at Five-Mile was sold by Telikom to a foreign owned company for K4 million when the real value should have been K30 million.
This was revealed by the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Parliament during question time yesterday.
He was responding to a question from Kerowagi MP Camillus Dangma who questioned why this big piece of land was sold to a foreigner when a national could have easily afforded that land.
Mr Dangma’s question was prompted by an earlier supplementary question by East Sepik Governor Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare who had asked the Lands Minister to reveal the name of the person that allowed the sale of this land to the foreign owned company.
Lands Minister Benny Allen replied that the sale was made by Telikom on a private sale to the company and he is yet to find out if the Lands Department or the Land Board was involved.
This prompted the Kerowagi MP to raise a new question on the same issue but this time, directed to the Prime Minister.
“This huge prime land is a mere K4 million in which a Papua New Guinean can be able to afford why a foreign company?” he said.
Prime Minister O’Neill in reply said the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), the major shareholder of Telikom was also concerned that it was not informed of the sale and that K4 million was very cheap when the real value was around K30 million.
He also assured Parliament that there would not be any development on the land until an investigation was conducted into the sale.POST COURIER/PNG

3) Strike looms in PNG capital over corruption concerns

Posted at 09:05 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

A workers strike is looming for PNG’s capital after a planned rally by activists today was prevented from going ahead by police.

The planned rally in Port Moresby was to voice concern to government over a range of issues including the state takeover of Ok Tedi Mining assets.

Now the organisers, the Social Media Activism Committee, are appealing to workers such as PMV and taxi operators to strike next Monday to support the bid to have the Prime Minister provide clarification on issues like corruption allegations.

The Committee’s Charlie Gilichibi says they are concerned about the Independent Commission Against Corruption that MPs are considering legislation for.

“What we’ve noticed basically it will still have the political influence, so it will become another Ombudsman Commission, basically another Commission of Inquiry-type organisation, another Public Accounts Committee which basically goes and gets all the evidence, all the information, but then does nothing.”

Charlie Gilichibi

Radio New Zealand International

4) New Caledonia outlines restrained budget

Posted at 03:29 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

The New Caledonian government has presented its 2014 budget outline, which its spokesperson Sonia Backes says is extremely restrained.

She says the budget of 680 million US dollar is marked by substantial restrictions.

Exceptions, she says, apply to a few projects, such as the lowering of the cost of living and the digital economy.

Ms Backes says the government is still keen on a proactive investment policy to avoid a recession.

Radio New Zealand International

POLYNESIA:

5) Tonga repeats message to NZ to stop interfering

Posted at 09:06 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

The Tongan Deputy Prime Minister has told New Zealand to stop interfering with its internal policies, as a travel advisory continues to warn tourists away from Tonga.

Samiu Vaipulu says the controversial MA-60 aircraft gifted by China is fully accredited.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation says Tonga can accredit the plane, but New Zealand is within its rights to ask questions of it.

But Mr Vaipulu says that would be fine if the flights were to New Zealand, but the plane is on a domestic route.

Mr Vaipulu says China is happy for New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully to send an expert to China to inspect the plane, but Tonga has no issue with it.

“I think he’s treating us unfairly. He should have the travel advisory as well to the other 20 countries that are using the MA-60 and has China has also agreed to have someone from New Zealand, whatever his concerns are, he can check it in China.”

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu.

Radio New Zealand International

6/7) NGO Claims Tongan Elderly Neglected By Families
Ma’a Fafine Moe Famili provides home care visits to seniors

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 12, 2013) – A family group supporting the elderly in Tonga says there is a growing number of senior citizens who are struggling to take care of themselves and are seeking help.

The non-government organisation, Ma’a Fafine Moe Famili Center, runs the Tonga Social Services Pilot which was launched in July last year, and provides home care visits to people over 60 who suffer from non-communicable disease or issues with mobility.

A case manager, Melenaita Blake, says many clients have been neglected by family members who are either busy with their own families or have moved overseas.

“Right now we’re having 164 clients with different conditions. And more and more referrals are being received. I consider it quite a lot because us kids are supposed to look after our elderly. But right now we see that some of that is not being practised now.”

Melenaita Blake says a number of clients struggle to clean their homes or have outdoor toilets and find it physically hard to get to them.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

AUSTRALIA:

8) DFAT confirms offers for next year’s AusAID graduate program revoked
By Online Editor
1:34 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2013, Australia

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed it has revoked offers made for next year’s AusAID graduate program.

The program prepares graduates for a career with AusAID, the government agency responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid program.

One of the Coalition Government’s first acts was to merge AusAID with DFAT.

Job cuts had been foreshadowed as a result of the decision.

A DFAT spokeswoman says the circumstances have changed since the time of recruitment earlier this year.

“AusAID was recruiting to manage an $8 billion aid program,” she said.

“With the program now reduced to $5 billion, it would not be responsible to proceed with the recruitment of additional staff.”

The Government announced a $4.5 billion cut to foreign aid funding in the policy costings earlier this year.

Other factors taken into account were the Government’s commitment to cut 12,000 jobs across the public service and the increased efficiency dividend.

The Department will continue to run its graduate program next year for people currently in the program.

It says decisions about future graduate programs will be made in due course.

SOURCE: ABC/PACNEWS

TOK PISIN:

9) Solomon Islands:Sorcery wari i bikpla

Updated 13 November 2013, 15:25 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Pasin sanguma oa sorcery nau iwok long kamapim wari long  Solomon Islands na gavman na ol communiti lida i laik painim ol gutpla rot blong stopim despla pasin.

Odio: sorcery

Olsem na tede Law Reform Commission ibin ronim wanpla woksop oa miting em planti lida blong sios ibin stap long en long hed kuata blong Church ov Melanesia long Honiara.

Samting olsem 80 ol Pater, ol Pastors, ol lida blong sios na ol lida blong ol narapla sios ibin stap tu long despla woksop.

Pasin sanguma istap olsem wanpla bikpla wari tu long Papua New Guinea na Vanuatu.

Philip Kainarara principal legal ofisa blong Law Reform Commission itok olsem pasin sorcery i wanpla wari nau long kantri.

Emi tok tu olsem tingting blong askim ol lida blong lotu em long wonem oli stap klostu long ol pipal na oli gat bikpla save long ol rot blong toktok wantem ol pipal long despla wari.RADIO AUSTRALIA

FRENCH:

10) La Croix Rouge, le Croissant rouge et le Bassin indo-pacifique

Posté à 13 November 2013, 8:40 AEST
Pierre Riant

Les délégués de plus de 180 pays sont cette semaine à Sydney pour discuter de l’aide humanitaire avec en toile de fond le carnage du typhon Haiyan dans le Bassin indo-pacifique : notamment en Micronésie, a Palau, aux Philippines, au Vietnam et en Chine.

Avec le passage de ce typhon mortel, le bassin indo-pacifique est incontournable pour les délégués de la Croix rouge et du Croissant rouge.

Julie Bishop, la chef de la diplomatie australienne, s’est exprimée lors d’un Forum sur le thème : Changer le visage de l’action humanitaire et elle a souligné les failles dans les petits pays voisins en développement de l’Australie : «Notre région doit faire face à un éventail de problèmes : pauvreté, maladies, catastrophes naturelles, violence endémique et conflits. »

Comme tout nouveau gouvernement, a déclaré Julie Bishop, nous venons avec de nouvelles idées et si l’Australie continuera d’être un donneur d’aide généreux, a-t-elle précisé, l’Australie doit aussi répondre à des défis économiques et il faut par conséquent maximiser l’efficacité des dollars de l’aide à l’étranger.

Pour la chef de la diplomatie australienne, l’aide doit s’aligner davantage avec le développement commercial et la politique étrangère du pays donnateur : « C’est-à-dire concentrer nos investissements dans des secteurs qui produiront de meilleurs résultats sur le plan humanitaire, social et économique. La vérité tragique est que les crises humanitaires coûtent des vies, renversent les progrès économiques et sociaux et absorbent des milliards de dollars via les efforts de secours d’urgence. En ce moment même,  des efforts d’urgence sont déployés aux Philippines à la suite du Typhon Haiyan, toutes pertes en vie humaine et destruction de maisons et de propriétés sont désastreuses. »

Julie Bishop n’a pas mentionné la décision du gouvernement de couper de plus de 4 milliards de dollars le budget de l’aide à l’étranger au cours de ces 5 prochaines années.

Bekele Galeta est le secrétaire-général de la Croix rouge et des Sociétés du Croisant rouge. Et pour lui, dans de nombreux endroits à travers le monde, les populations n’ont plus confiance en leur gouvernement et réclament davantage de transparence et de justice.

Du printemps arabe à la Syrie, a-t-il souligné, le phénomène est omniprésent et il faut remettre en question la manière dont l’aide est envisagée : «  Je pense que l’heure à un changement radical est venue, Il faut que nous remettions en question la façon dont nous travaillons et dont nous gérons les vulnérabilités et les aspirations de la planète. Est-ce que la Croix rouge, le Croissant rouge et la société civile sont en mesure de réduire les risques d’une autre catastrophe humanitaire comme en Syrie ? Je pense que nous pouvons y contribuer. »

Autre problème. Les attaques plus fréquentes lancées contre des convois et des travailleurs humanitaires. Pour Julie Bishop, le statut de non-combattant de la Croix rouge et du Croissant rouge doit être impérativement respecté et la contrebande d’armes doit cesser : «  Il est vital de nous assurer que les parties belligérantes autorisent l’assistance humanitaire et se retiennent d’attaquer le personnel de santé et les installations et véhicules médicaux.
Et j’ajoute aussi que la propagation des armes de petit calibre est une maladie au cœur de notre société. »

Julie Bishop a ensuite souligné l’impact de ces armes de petits calibres dans des conflits au Timor Leste, aux Îles Salomon et sur l’île de Bougainville.

Le Traité sur le commerce des armes de l’ONU a été signé par 114 pays et 8 l’ont ratifié. L’ambassadeur australien aux Nations Unies, Peter Woolcott, indique que 50 ratifications sont nécessaires pour que ce traité puisse entrer en vigueur : «J’espère que l’esprit de coopération concernant le Traité sur le commerce des armes va continuer pour qu’il puisse entrer en vigueur d’ici fin 2014. Je reste conscient toutefois que ce Traité ne reste qu’un traité, un cadre de travail.
Mais nous devons continuer à travailler pour réduire la souffrance humaine et j’espère que nous le ferons. Il faut que ce traité entre en vigueur et vous pouvez tous jouer un rôle important à ce propos. »

Nul doute que l’appel de Peter Woolcott aura été entendu par les délégués de la Croix rouge et du Croissant rouge de plus de 180 pays.RADIO AUSTRALIA

PASIFIK:

11) Three candidates vie for SPC top job

By Online Editor
4:12 pm GMT+12, 13/11/2013, Fiji

The new Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will be chosen from one of the top three candidates shortlisted by a panel comprising senior officials from member countries.

PACNEWS has been informed the three candidates include a serving diplomat, a director for a regional organisation and a lawyer.

The names of the three candidates will be presented to the Committee of Regional Governments and Administrations (CRGA) meeting in Suva on Friday for a decision before a recommendation is put to the 8th Conference of the Pacific Community next week.

“While the due diligence process has been completed and recommendation made by the panel, the political process where members will be decide on the appointment will take place this week. The political decision can still change the preferred choice, an official from one of the SPC member country, who did not want to be named, told PACNEWS.

“However, the Pacific Way sometimes becomes the deciding factor, added the official.

CRGA officials will decide on Friday to endorse the recommendation of the panel or leave it to the foreign affairs minister to decide on the appointment, PACNEWS was told.

The new Director General will replace Dr Jimmie Rodgers of Solomon Islands, who has received glowing commendations from most of the 26 member countries of the SPC, including its metropolitan members.

During his eight year term in office, Dr Rodgers directed many changes in structure of the Noumea-based organisation.

“I came into the job at the time when the regional reform had been directed by the forum leaders, and we have expanded, and I think the success story is that we have completed the reform, the programs that we have absorbed are now part and parcel of very well oiled machinery in delivery,” he told the Fiji Times.

In his report to the CRGA, Dr Rodgers submitted that within a year, his executive team implemented 37 of the 42 recommendations made by the Independent External Review (IER) team that undertook an extensive review of the organisation in 2012.

“This is an excellent record for Dr Rodgers, leaving the organisation in good hands for his successor, said the CRGA official.

Key IER recommendations that have been implemented include the relocation of activities of the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (formerly SOPAC) to become a core function of SPC, retention of the Secretariat of the Pacific Board of Educational Assessment (SPBEA) with a possibility of the organisation becoming a separate technical division within the SPC and the closure of the Community Education Training Centre (CETC) in Nabua to be transferred to the University of the South Pacific.
SOURCE: PACNEWS

EDUCATION:

12) Fiji Parents Should Make Use Of Free Education: Brij Lal
Education official says parents should provide for children’s welfare

By Pravin Narain

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 12, 2013) – Fiji’s Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Brij Lal said it would be unthinkable for parents not to send their children to school in 2014.

He said the onus is on parents to ensure their children benefit from the free education initiative offered by government in the new school year.

“There should not be any reason for parents not to send their children to school,” Dr Lal said.

“Government has made extra effort in ensuring that by paying for each student’s fees, so it’s only right that parents make the same effort.

“Parents should not shy away from their responsibilities, but provide for the welfare of their children.”

Education funds promised by government he says will be made available from the next school term.

“It will be given per term. We will follow the proper procedure in giving out funds to the school.”

Students in primary schools get a grant of FJ$250 [US$134.89] per student. Those in form 3 and form 4 will get FJ$440 [US$237.40] while students in form 5 and form 6 will receive FJ$485 [US$261.68]. Form 7 students will get FJ$600 [US$323.73].

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

13) Solomons National University Students Plead For Allowances
Students face ‘desperate situation’ as second semester ends

By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 12, 2013) – All government funded students studying at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) are pleading with the government to settle their allowances with much urgency.

This comes after the university students kicked off their long holiday break this week with a single cent since the start of the semester.

The students completed their second semester on Friday.

The delay in the release of their allowances has forced many of them to visit the finance section at the ministry of finance yesterday.

Hundreds of students spent most part of the day at the payment section to wait for any news of their allowance and to show solidarity of their desperation so that payments can be made this week.

The delay in payment had put many students in desperate situation where they cannot travel home because they have no relatives in Honiara.

SINU management had issued a notice that all boarding students must leave the hostel by today. Because of that, the students said, they need their allowances.

However a majority of boarding students said they will only leave once they receive their allowances because they have nowhere else to go.

“Even if the dining hall is closed, we will still reside at the hostel because where else can we go. We don’t want to put extra burden our relatives. We will only leave [when] our payments are settled,” a spokesperson for the students said yesterday.

The students also need their allowance to settle part of the 25% contribution.

Failure to do so will see most of them unable to get their results or graduate next month.

Yesterday, the students told the Solomon Star that government must settle their allowances this week.

The spokesperson for the students said, most of the students want to go home now.

“But because of the delay we cannot travel,” the student spokesman said.

Meanwhile president of the students association Wilson Mae yesterday said the students have received assurance that payments will be ready for collection by Thursday afternoon.

He said the finance officers are working overtime to complete the task.

Permanent secretary of finance Shadrach Fanage in an interview with the Solomon Star yesterday said the process of raising the payment takes time.

He explained that with more than 3,000 students the process of entering individual information and data of all the students into the system is a huge task.

Mr Fanega said his officers have been working tirelessly over the weekend and will continue to do so this week to settle the students’ allowance.

He assured the students that they will still receive their allowance once all the formalities are completed.

Its understood officers at the payment section continued worked overtime last night to complete all payments.

Solomon Star

14) New Curriculum Syllabus To Be Introduced In Solomons
2014 syllabus outcome-based, outlines teachers’ roles

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 12, 2013) – Schools throughout the Solomon Islands will be introduced to the country’s new curriculum syllabus next year.

Director of curriculum of the ministry of education Patrick Dadau said if the new syllabus materials are ready on time, schools throughout the country will use it next year.

“We would like to ensure that schools throughout the country are distributed with the new syllabus materials before the start of academic 2014,” Mr Dadau said.

He said the new syllabus has a new structure and is outcome based not like the current structure used today which is an objective based.

Dadau stressed that this new syllabus will outline teachers roles and what they should do.

“It will outline teaching strategies, teaching and learning and will enable teachers to plan,” Dadau said.

According to the new curriculum framework, an in service training program for teachers should have been done before the introduction of this new syllabus.

The curriculum director said they are hoping to undergo this training anytime soon.

However Dadau said this in-service program will depend very much on the availability of the materials.

Dadau said final e-copies of the new syllabus are ready to be printed and they will ensure the materials are printed and ready before the end of the year to distribute to schools.

The Solomon Star understands not a single material has yet been printed as confirmed by the private printing firm that was supposed to print the materials.

The winning printing company spoken to last week said they are ready to do the job.

However they will wait for their machine spare part to arrive this Thursday to be installed before they will start with the printing job.

Boss of EN Digital Printing Technology Edwin Awaoli said they hope to complete the job within four weeks.

“We have the capacity and resources to make this happen. And we will work day and night doing this job,” Awaoli said.

Meanwhile Dadau said he is in contact with the printing firm everyday to make sure the job is done on time.

Solomon Star

MEDIA:

15) Australia questions PNG over deportation of media advisor

Posted at 09:06 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

The Australian Foreign Minister has asked the Papua New Guinea government to explain why an Australian journalist was deported.

The media advisor to the PNG Sustainable Development Programme, Mark Davis, was arrested by heavily-armed police last week and put on a plane to Brisbane with none of his belongings.

Julie Bishop has told the Murdoch press she is concerned and has requested more information.

She says the PNG authorities did not give Mr Davis an opportunity to contact the Australian High Commission.

The chairman of the SDP and a former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, says Mr Davis was deported for political reasons after facilitating SDP press releases critical of the government’s takeover of the SDP fund.

“Police kidnapped him, drove him for a few hours, with police sitting side by side with heavy guns and drive him straight to the airport, to the aeroplane. Not to the customs, not the immigration, not through anything. And that led me to describe Papua New Guinea as a country not dissimilar to Zimbabwe.”

Sir Mekere Morauta.

Radio New Zealand International

16) PNG PM wants more local control of media outlets

Posted at 09:06 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

PNG’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, says he does not want to control the media as speculated but wants to see PNG have greater shares in this industry.

He has told reporters in Port Moresby that his government wants to implement the same legislation as in Australia and the United States.

The newspaper, The National, quotes the prime minister as saying media freedom will not be affected by such a move.

He has told journalists that in PNG people allow everybody else to own everything but Papua New Guineans own nothing.

Reporters Without Borders’ Bob Howarth has said PNG is considering similar legislation to that adopted in Fiji in 2010 when foreign ownership of media outlets was restricted.

Radio New Zealand International

17) Former PM and fund chairman likens PNG to Zimbabwe

Posted at 09:03 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

A former prime minister of Papua New Guinea and the current chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme says many in the country fear the government.

Sir Mekere Morauta has referred the prime minister, Peter O’Neill, to the International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the government’s new laws to take over the Singapore-registered SDP fund.

He says the fund pays almost half a billion US dollars in taxes each year, and the Ok Tedi people have 1.4 billion US dollars that will now go to government coffers.

Sir Mekere’s Australian media advisor Mark Davis was deported last week, and he says others around him are harassed.

He compared the prime minister to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

“This is Mugabe in the making, Papua New Guineans are scared, ministers are scared, MPs are scared, everyone is scared. No one is saying anything, except for me. And of course people who work around me are now being victimised because of that. But I will continue to say what I am saying.”

Sir Mekere Morauta.

Radio New Zealand International

BUSINESS:

18) ADB report recommends ways to improve investment in Fiji

Posted at 09:06 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

A new report on investment in Fiji has found political uncertainty has been one of the main reasons for the country not reaching its potential.

The Asian Development Bank report also found Fiji remains a fairly high-cost place to do business with many regulatory hoops to jump through and an ambivalent attitude to foreign investment.

The report, Re-Invigorating Private Sector Investment, suggests measures to create a climate for sustained investment, including a more open environment for public debate, simplified investment incentives, strengthened infrastructure and improved understanding of contract law.

An ADB economist, Paul Holden, says things are improving for investors who are looking forward to the return to democracy in Fiji next year.

“One of the most damaging factors in determining investment is when other risks are added to standard business risks and I think that we’re moving in a direction where those other risks are going to be reduced and this is one of the reasons why we’re seeing the uptick in investment.”

Paul Holden of the Asian Development Bank.

Radio New Zealand International

19) SMEs to solve job shortage in PNG
By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 13/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Strengthening small businesses in Papua New Guinea could help provide employment to the growing number of university graduates every year, Papua New guinea Commerce and Trade Minister Richard Maru said.

He stressed this in Kokopo last week when launching the draft on the small-to- medium enterprises master plan 2014-30 aimed to strengthen local businesses in the country.

He said with the free education policy, the Government must seriously look at addressing the high number of students graduating yearly.

“Our target is that by the time we finish implementing this plan, we want to create two million jobs and for SMEs to grow from 50,000 to 500,000 just like in New Zealand.”

Maru said he believed this was the only answer to all the country’s economic and social problems.

“Should we fail, I could only see social uprising and disaster in front of us.”

“A stock take after 38 years showed that 40% of the people were still living below the poverty line, unemployment of about 66%, income capita of only K2,400 per year and this was very unfair for a country blessed with rich resources.”

“The Government would not succeed without the support of all provincial governments and the people must be inspired to take ownership and get out there and invest in the sector.”

“By the time we finished the national plan and get the parliament to endorse it, we would expect within three months for all the provinces to pull together their SME plans, which should be aligned with the national plan.”

“This would be the bible to guide your economic plans. Every quarter, I expect the chamber of commerce to give an SME report to the provincial executive councils,” Maru said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

20) Fiji to up stake in PNG
By Online Editor
4:05 pm GMT+12, 13/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Fiji wants to take advantage of the economic boom in Papua New Guinea and enhance its trade and investments, High Commissioner Romanu Tikotikoca  said.

He said this Tuesday following Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s announcement last Friday on the appointment of a trade commissioner to PNG.

Tikotikoca said Fiji would appoint the commissioner for next year as it pushed ahead to boost trade with Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) nations.

“Fiji wishes to take advantage of the economic boom in Papua New Guinea and further enhance opportunities for trade and investment there and other MSG countries.

“Fiji wishes to boost its investments in PNG as there are already numerous Fiji companies operating there and the same with PNG companies in Fiji.

“The role of the trade commissioner is to promote trade and investment and boost working relationship and networking in the area of trade and investment between Fiji and PNG and other MSG countries and foster economic growth and related activities,” he added.

Tikotikoca said the trade commissioner, who will be based in PNG, would be responsible for all MSG countries, which included Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Bainimarama said F$464,000 (US$249,000) was allocated for the appointment of a trade commissioner.

“The focus on the MSG market is clear, with F$296,000 (US$159,000) for an MSG investment road show and trade fair and F$100,000 (US$53,700) for an MSG trade ministers and officials meeting.

“We (Fiji) are also allocating F$530,000 (US$284,000) for a trade and investment promotion mission to New Caledonia and Australia, where we believe there are significant untapped opportunities for Fijians,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

The on-going Fijian made and buy Fijian campaign would continue with an allocation of F$500,000 (US$268,000), while F$100,000 had been allocated to carry out trade policy framework.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

21) Samoa remains a top secret tax haven
By Online Editor
1:36 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2013, Samoa

Samoa remains the world’s most top secret tax haven, according to the latest update of a global index ranking secrecy laws worldwide.

The Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) ranks Samoa at 88, just ahead of Vanuatu.

Tax havens are estimated to conceal upwards of US$21 trillion.

“Samoa’s 88 per cent secrecy score shows that it must still make major progress in offering satisfactory financial transparency,” reads the FSI finding, released on 07 November 2013.

“If it wishes to play a full part in the modern financial community and to impede and deter illicit financial flows, including flows originating from tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance practices, corrupt practices and criminal activities, it should take action on the points noted where it falls short of acceptable international standards.”

Samoa, however, ranks near the end of the FSI ranking in terms of global significance, with the volume of financial flows estimated to be “tiny”.

“Samoa accounts for less than 1 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a tiny player compared with other secrecy jurisdictions,” reads the index.

In terms of volume percentage, Samoa fails to register above 0.000 per cent, compared with the United States of America, which accounts for 22.586 per cent of global tax haven activity.

By comparison, Vanuatu accounts for an estimated 0.002 per cent of global tax haven activity, with the Marshall Islands at 0.022 percent. The United Kingdom is estimated to be the next largest by volume, with 18.530 per cent of global tax haven activity.

Combining volume and secrecy rankings, the FSI index places Samoa 76th of 82 tax havens or “secrecy jurisdictions” worldwide.

Samoa’s closest trading partner, New Zealand, has a secrecy rating of 52 and accounts for 0.126 per cent of global tax haven activity.

The index differs from lists put out by official groups like OECD, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, made up of member governments.

Unlike the OECD, the FSI includes first all world countries in its estimates of tax haven activities.

The FSI is compiled by TJN, the Tax Justice Network, an independent organisation launched in the British Houses of Parliament in March 2003.

One of the world’s leading business magazines, The Economist, accepts the index findings without question.

“The overall message of the index is that while there has been progress on international tax transparency, it has been more modest than tax haven-bashing politicians would have us believe,” it reports.

“The good news is that automatic exchange of information has a good chance of developing, over time, into a global standard—helped not least by America’s powerful Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

“The bad news is that financial secrecy is still very much alive and well.”

An introduction to the index gives the background to tax havens worldwide.

“An estimated $21 to $32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions around the world,” states the network.

“Illicit cross-border financial flows add up to an estimated $1-1.6 trillion each year.

“Since the 1970s African countries alone are estimated to have lost over $1 trillion in capital flight, dwarfing their current external debts of ‘just’ $190 billion and making Africa a major net creditor to the world. But those assets are in the hands of a few wealthy people, protected by offshore secrecy, while the debts are shouldered by broad African populations.

“Yet rich countries suffer too: in the recent global financial crisis, European countries like Greece, Italy and Portugal have been brought to their knees by decades of secrecy and tax evasion.

“Secrecy jurisdictions – a term we often use as an alternative to the more widely used term tax havens – use secrecy to attract illicit and illegitimate or abusive financial flows.

“A global industry has developed involving the world’s biggest banks, law practices and accounting firms which not only provide secretive offshore structures to their tax- and law-dodging clients, but aggressively market them. ‘Competition’ between jurisdictions to provide secrecy facilities has, particularly since the era of financial globalisation took off in the 1980s, become a central feature of global financial markets.

“The problems go far beyond tax,” states the network.

“In providing secrecy, the offshore world corrupts and distorts markets and investments, shaping them in ways that have nothing to do with efficiency. The secrecy world creates a criminogenic hothouse for multiple evils including fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, escape from financial regulations, embezzlement, insider dealing, bribery, money laundering, and plenty more.

“It provides multiple facilities for insiders to extract wealth at the expense of societies elsewhere, creating political impunity and undermining the healthy ‘no taxation without representation’ bargain that has underpinned the growth of accountable modern nation states. Instead of depending on tax, many countries are forced to depend on foreign aid.

“This is not just a ‘developing country’ issue either: it hurts citizens of rich and poor countries alike.”.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT:

22) Solomons mining hopefuls questioned over environmental and social problems

Posted at 09:03 on 13 November, 2013 UTC

Companies wanting to mine Solomon Islands’ Isabel province are being asked how they will manage the environmental and social problems that may result from their operations.

Local people are raising the concerns at a mining forum ending today involving more than 150 delegates in the provincial capital, Buala.

Annell Husband reports.

“Two companies vying for the rights to extract nickel from Isabel – Sumitomo from Japan and Axiom from Australia – presented their mining plans for the province. The delegates all acknowledged mining’s potential benefits – from new employment opportunities, greater financial security to new infrastructure such as schools, roads and medical clinics.”

“But women representatives expressed grave concern about environmental pollution as well as social problems, such as alcohol abuse, prostitution, law and order issues and the breakdown of traditional land tenure systems. Isabel’s paramount chief Bishop James Mason urged delegates to protect the land for future generations and the provincial diocesan bishop Richard Naramana emphasised the importance of including women and youth in decision-making. Bishop Naramana called for meaningful decisions looking at all options for development, saying economic growth could also come from agriculture and tourism.”

Radio New Zealand International

SPORTS:

23) Samoa beat France 22- 6 in brutal clash, set – up quarter final against Fiji

By Online Editor
3:48 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2013, France

Samoa ground out a hard-fought 22-6 win over France in a bruising Pool B clash in Perpignan to secure the runners-up spot and a Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Fiji.

Defeat for France means they will be England’s quarter-final opponents in Wigan on Saturday night and they will travel in good spirits after producing their best performance of the tournament.

The Samoans will battle Petero Civoniceva’s men for the right to take on the winner of Australia’s sudden-death clash with the US.

In-demand young gun Anthony Milford was named man of the match, but his side were held 6-6 at the interval after producing an undisciplined first half in which they had one player sin-binned and three others placed on report.

Wests Tigers forward Sauaso Sue was put on report for a second time in the second half and coach Matt Parish could be sweating on a series of disciplinary issues before he names his team for the trip to Warrington, where his side thrilled the crowd with a second-half fightback against New Zealand in their opening game.

Samoa took the lead after only three minutes with a try from right winger Daniel Vidot but the first half will best be remembered for the ferocious hits from the Samoans, many of them illegal, which infuriated the 11,576 crowd at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Referee Henry Perenara, who struggled to control of the game, showed leniency in placing St George Illawarra prop Leeson Ah Mau and Sue on report after unfortunate halfback William Barthau was flattened off the ball twice in as many minutes inside the first quarter.

Perenara eventually produced a yellow card after substitute Mose Masoe, who has departed the Penrith Panthers and will join St Helens for the 2014 UK Super League season, caught lock Thomas Bosc late with a shoulder charge.

The French took advantage of the extra man to draw level on 31 minutes thanks to fullback Morgan Escare.

Bosc’s goal levelled the scores but Parramatta’s Ben Roberts, who became the third Samoan player to be put on report for a spear tackle, fluffed a glorious try-scoring chance just before the break.

Milford weaved a way through the French defence to cross within five minutes of the restart and his second conversion made it 12-6.

France played with spirit but conceded again when centre Joseph Leulua’s offload created a try for five-eighth Pita Godinet on the hour.

With their discipline under control, Samoa were clearly the better team and they wrapped up the scoring with a fourth try through substitute Junior Moors six minutes from the end, with Milford kicking his third goal.
SOURCE: AFP/PACNEWS

24) 2015 Pacific Games progress slow: Pacific Games Council president Lakhan
By Online Editor
3:45 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Pacific Games Council president Vidya Lakhan is concerned some venues for the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea may not be completed on time.

Lakhan said the Games briefing in Port Moresby last weekend, he found out some venues may not be fully operational but the playing areas would be available to host.

Lakhan asked the committees to come up with a “Plan B”, in the likelyhood some venues were not ready in time.

The alternative plans would involve sports playing at existing facilites, modifying their codes or being cancelled altogether.

Lakhan said he was worried the athletes’ acommodation at the multi-million Games Village at the University of PNG Campus would not be ready.

The site has only been cleared and levelled since its official launching earlier in the year.

With a little over 19 months since the July 4 opening ceremony work, has been slow on the aquatic centre and the Games Village while the Sir John Guise Stadium stands idle with no construction work done on it  since the stands and some structures where demolished several months ago.

Lakhan said despite the slow preparations the Pacific Games Council and Papua New Guinea were committed to the event and would not be transfering the Games to another host country.

“PNG will host the the 2015 Games and they will be held in Port Moresby,” Lakhan said.

He called on stakeholders, including government departments and the people to rally behind the Games Organising Committee and support them in organising the delivery of a successful Games in 2015.

“We have lost a lot of time and can’t afford any more delays. Stop procrastinating, let’s get on with the job at hand,” Lakhan said.

Chairman of the Pacific Games Authority, Kostas Constantinou, dispelled rumours that the country would lose its hosting rights if things did not improve over the next two months.

Constantinou told The National that the preparations were on schedule for the 2015 Pacific Games to be staged in Port Moresby.

Constantinou said Lakhan, who is a member of the Games Authority, was pleased with the preparation.

Lakhan was in the country over the weekend to attend the monthly meeting for the Games Authority.
Lakhan left the country on Sunday “reasonably” happy but said he would like to see work on venues such as the Games Village and the Boroko sports grounds along Bisini Parade that would cater for softball, netball, rugby league and union, cricket and lawn bowls – excelerated.

According to initial time frame for sporting infrastructure, the work should have began last year and be completed six months before the staging of the Pacific Games.

Meanwhile, deputy chairperson of the Venue Infrastructure, Equipment Committee (VIEC) Mel Donald said in an earlier interview that the time was against her committee and other stakeholders.

However on a positive note, she said there had been significant progress in the past 12 months especially the last six months where the Sports Minister Justin Tkatchencko and even the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had pushed for preparations to speed up.

She said their assistance came mainly in the form of getting the public service to  do their part in the hastening the processes for getting building approvals and the like.

She said the Games Village, Taurama Aquatic and Indoor Complex and the Sir John Guise Stadium were all now in construction phase.

The Rita Flynn netball courts design was progressing well and some of the smaller venues were about to commence construction.

She said the Venues committee was striving to avoid all delays to the contruction of venues.

Donald said the important message was that VIEC and the Games Authority are trying to get the people to understand that the 2015 Games was not only a festival of sports for the country and the Pacific neighbbours,  but also signified an important part of PNG history as a nation as we would be turning 40 in 2015.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

25) Vanuatu Volleyball Team Withdraws From Europe Tour
High-ranking women’s team reportedly lacks adequate funds

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 12, 2013) – Vanuatu’s highly successful women’s beach volleyball team has been forced to withdraw from upcoming European tours because of a lack of funds.

Vanuatu is the highest ranked Oceania team and teams just finished 5th and 6th at the Asian Beach Championship.

The team’s manager Debbie Masaufakalo told Pacific Beat they are finding it difficult to pay airfares to Europe and it is the biggest cost to the team at the moment.

“You’re looking at between $15,000 and $25,000 just in airfares so it’s always been a struggle for us,” she said.

“Fifty-three per cent of our budget is airfares so it’s the airfares that we struggle with.

“If we don’t get an airline partner on board, it’s not going to be possible because it’s just huge amount of money for us.”

The team’s financial troubles are also hurting the players. Each of them are getting paid about US$55 per week.

The women’s team is the only Pacific team to be on world tour and they enjoy much support in the region.

“Beach volleyball and the girls have a huge profile, they’re so much loved by the people of Vanuatu, praised by the government,” Ms Masaufakalo said.

“They are an inspiration to the country, an inspiration to the Pacific women all over the world that they can follow their dream and go after it.

“We are the Pacific team, we are loved by the Pacific.”

For now, Ms Masaufakalo says the team plans to travel to neighbouring countries to attend as many competitions.

“We’ve also the next year’s youth Olympics in China so we’re going to try to split up the teams with a couple of juniors,” she said.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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