Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 915

Wishing you and your loved ones, a Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel!
Cheers- Phil.

MELANESIA:

1) PNG To Implement Pension, National Service Schemes in 2015
Elderly, disabled and youth targeted by programs: PM O’Neill

By Miriam Malawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 24, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s Government will introduce a pension system and a national service scheme in 2015, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.

O’Neill said the pension system would cater for every individual over 65 and every person living with disability in the country.

“Many of the old and people living with disabilities are not looked after well,” he said.

“That is why this policy will be introduced so that they have the dignity of a quality life that they deserve.”

O’Neill however did not elaborate on how the pension scheme would work and if it was only for retired public servants.

O’Neill said the national service scheme would be introduced for young people in the streets and children who were unable to go to universities or higher education institutions in the country.

“They can go to the National Service so that they feel useful in their country,” he said.

He made the policy announcement during the launching of Paru Aihi’s by-election campaign for the Kairuku-Hiri seat in Central, at Hisiu village.

Aihi is a member of the People’s National Congress party, led by O’Neill.

O’Neill made that policy announcement when addressing party supporters.

He said with those plans, the Government needed good quality leaders to implement them.

“The government is changing PNG – we are not just talking but changing PNG,” he said.

“We’ve got the right set of policies, right answers for education.

“We are rebuilding our health systems and rebuilding infrastructure.”

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

2) More Concerns Voiced Over Papuan Military Leader’s Death
Indonesian officials allegedly preventing autopsy at hospital

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 21, 2012) – The Asian Human Rights Commission is adding its voice to concerns at the death of West Papua separatist militia leader, Danny Kogoya.

Mr Kogoya died in hospital in Vanimo in Papua New Guinea last week, reportedly of liver failure due to the presence of unusual chemicals in his body.

A doctor in Vanimo has suggested poison was administered while Mr Kogoya was a patient at the hospital – he had been there receiving treatment.

A year earlier Mr Kogoya had been shot by the Indonesian military which subsequently amputated his leg, an operation for which he had not given permission.

The death has been officially classified as a murder and the court in Vanimo last week ordered that an autopsy to be carried out.

But the Commission says Indonesian officials are preventing the hospital in Vanimo from going ahead and it says this raises suspicions of Jakarta’s involvement in Mr Kogoya’s death.

The Commission has called for a letter writing campaign to put the issue before political leaders in Indonesia and PNG.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 24 December 2013

by bobmakin

The Australian Government will assist the Vanuatu Government with an amount of 152 million vatu to assist national security over which the Vanuatu Police Force has responsibility. Much of it will go towards the patrolling and policing of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This item led the Radio Vanuatu News bulletin this morning. Most probably the aid was first announced in the discussions at the time of the Australian Foreign Minister’s visit to the re-furbished patrol vessel at its moorings.

The visit of Minister Julie Bishop to Vanuatu has continued to occupy headlines since her visit last week, with full pages of photos as well as news. Since then the administration and NGOs seem to have embarked on Christmas holidays to varying degrees and the weight of the news emanating from them has started to tumble in the same way as it does every year-end. This digest will perforce follow the same pattern. There was no bulletin Saturday, nor will there be one tomorrow. Probably some other days, too. Sometimes gaps will be filled with interesting and Vanuatu-relevant pieces from abroad.

Radio Vanuatu News reported high chiefs from around Tanna coming together with visiting experts in an interesting meeting to discuss climate change adaptation. Their visitors were from the meteorology and geo-hazards department and officials from a variety of climate change NGOs. The Niko Letan Council released the country’s first document concerning the effects of climate change as seen by them. Production on Tanna has diminished with water-logging of gardens, insect infestations affecting leaf growth, and insufficient rainfall. The department, USP Climate Programme, Tafea Cultural Centre, and Tafea administration, and SPC were present to suggest adaptation methods and learn of existing customary techniques of adaptation.

The government wants to buy Mandela Park and complete the task of forming a public space in memory of the late Nelson Mandela as was always the intention of the late Fr Walter Lini. Minister Regenvanu said the land is in now in the hands of a land agent and the matter of value before the courts, but nearing the end of the process.

Some other radio items of recent date, start with the Minister for Internal Affairs unwell and needing treatment overseas. He was to leave for New Caledonia yesterday.

Daily Post at the weekend announced three licensed agents for seasonal work being suspended, it would seem for having asked workers for money in a manner which is not approved. Checks on every agent should be made by anyone seeking this employment to the Commissioner of Labour, the department said.

Saturday’s Post also has Vanuatu being given a “top performer” rating as regards the achievement of environmental targets in a short time by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Reports on the bio-diversity of Eratap and Crab Bay (Malekula) mangrove (natongtong) forests have achieved excellent results environmentally.

Saturday’s Daily paper had two interesting articles which I shall reproduce in the coming ‘slack news’ days when I have permission. I think I have it for one article on the political appointees and diplomats implicated in passport sales. However, one headed “Returning to the ‘common heritage’ needs my obtaining permission from a colleague first of all.

Daily Post Friday mentioned Chairman George Tamar of the Lonwolwol Centenary Commemoration at Dip Point on Ambrym referring to the hospital opening 100 years ago – the country’s first general hospital – as a spiritual, economical, and physical beginning of the development of Ambrym. Immediately thereafter, with the volcano, which had been such a central feature of their customary life, totally destroying the hospital – and taking many lives – “the people were in a dark place.” He saw the time as one of transition so the people of Ambrym “could enter a new phase where the blessing and healing of God is on each tribe and the land.”

May the blessing and healing which are of importance and relevance tomorrow be with all readers of the Vanuatu daily news digest at Christmas.

4) Vanuatu Fund Announces Anticipated Investment Recoveries
Over $10 million invested in Wilco sites to be recouped in 14 years

By Royson Willie

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 24, 2013) – The Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Maki Simelum, has said it will take around 13 to 14 years before the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) will recover the Vt1.053 billion [US$10.8 million] that was invested into the Wilco properties.

Minister Simelum stated this via a statement in response to the statement in parliament by Port Vila Member of Parliament, Willie Jimmy, regarding investments of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund.

The minister said VNPF signed a 15-year lease agreement with Wilco that sees rental increase every three years following projections made before the VNPF put pen to paper. In the first three years, according to calculations based on an annual rent of Vt67.2 million [US$690,293], a total of Vt201.6 million [US$2.1 million] will be made.

After six years the rental will increase to Vt79.2 million [US$813,559] annually, which will see a total of Vt237.6 million [US$2.4 million] in rental payments made over the second three-year phase.

In the third 3-year term the annual rent will increase to Vt84 million [US$862,866], that will generate Vt252 million [US$2.6 million] over 3 years.

In 12 years, which is the fourth 3-year term, at an annual rental rate of Vt88.8 million [US$912,173], VNPF will make Vt266.4 million [US$2.7 million].

Then in the last three years of the 15-year agreement, VNPF will receive an annual rental of Vt93.6 million [US$961,479], which is a total of Vt280.8 million [US$2.9 million] over the last three years.

The total rental income over the 15 years at the above calculation as revealed by the minister, stands at Vt1.238 billion [US$12.7 million]. That is Vt185 million [US$1.9 million] more from its initial Vt1.053 billion spending on the property 15 years earlier.

Under the agreement, while Wilco is responsible for general maintenance of the two properties, VNPF is responsible for structural repairs and insurance of the buildings.

At this stage Daily Post has not been informed about the cost of the insurance fees involved.

Other properties that VNPF has invested in include the Australian High Commission Building where Vt493 million [US$5.1 million] was invested and has been fully recovered this year; Air Vanuatu Building where Vt395.5 million [US$4.1 million] was expended and an 11% return; NBV building where Vt500 million [US$5.1 million] was invested at a return of 8%; Nasama Resort where Vt158 million [US$1.6 million] was injected and a return of 6%; Ex-Band of Hawaii Building where Vt123.4 million [1.3 million] was invested through an equity arrangement with BRED Bank that sees the Fund own 50% shares at a return rate of 7.5% annually.

The minister of finance says with these investments, the Fund is making an overall investment return of around 7.3%.

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

5) New Caledonia To Help Vanuatu With Detained Fishing Boat
Kanak leaders would be asked to speak with French authorities

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 24, 2013) – Vanuatu’s Director for Foreign Affairs says Kanak Leaders in New Caledonia have offered to approach French authorities on behalf of Vanuatu over the illegal arrest of the Chinese fishing boat Hu Yu 911 by the French Navy on October 20 this year.

The Captain of the fishing boat was prosecuted in Noumea and found guilty of trespassing and fishing illegally in French maritime waters and fined US$5.5 million, and his catch and fishing boat confiscated by the French.

However Yvon Basil says his Office is going to ask the Kanak Leaders to speak to the French authorities over the issue.

The Vanuatu Government insists that the Chinese fishing boat was fishing in Vanuatu waters when it was illegally arrested by the French Navy.

The Maritime Boundary Coordinator Tony Tevi says the French Navy acted on a new French boundary line which the French authorities drew without the courtesy of discussing it with Vanuatu.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

6) SODELPA Calls On Supporters To Check Fiji Voter Roll
Party official says glance at register revealed number of errors

By Avinesh Gopal

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 24, 2013) – The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) has urged its supporters to check their names on Fiji’s National Register of Voters.

SODELPA general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu said people who wanted to view the register to check their names could also visit the party’s office.

“If they find anything wrong in their names, address or anything else, then they can ask the Elections Office to correct things,” he said.

“But at a glance of the register, we found some errors like names of people and villages being misspelt and the names of voters appearing in the wrong divisions.

“For example, we found the names of some people registered in Suva appearing in the Northern Division’s list of voters.

“There will be some errors coming up and therefore it’s critical that people who have registered to vote check their names in the register. We urge our voters to check their names.”

Mr Tabaiwalu also said the government should set up more places to enable people to check their names on the register.

He said more centres were needed in peri-urban and rural areas to make things easier for voters as far as checking the register was concerned.

“We have also asked the Elections Office for electronic copies of the register because it will make things easier, as we are on the ground at all times.

“If we have electronic copies, then it will be much easier than carrying the heavy book (register) around to the places we visit.

“The electronic copy of the register can be on our laptop and we can check the names there and then when visiting any area.”

In the meantime, the party’s aspiring candidates are moving around in their areas with the aim to secure votes in the 2014 election to win seats in parliament.

The party has called for expressions of interest from people who want to contest the election under the SODELPA banner. Applications close on December 31.

Mr Tabaiwalu said with the national register out now, the party was waiting for the announcement of the electoral legislation, and the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections.

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

7) Fiji Sugar Ministry Wants To Double Farming Land Area
Government plan promotes increased cane land through 2017

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 24, 2013) – The Fiji Sugar Ministry is working on doubling the national target for land allocated to cane farming from next year.

FBC reports the director for sugar, Viliame Gucake, says the government has endorsed an action plan promoting an increase of new agricultural land for sugar cane by three thousand hectares per year till 2017.

He says it will begin with six thousand hectares of new cane land next year.

Mr Gucake says the main reason for increasing new cane areas is the long term sustainability of the industry, and preparing the sugar industry for when the European Union quota expires.

In order to reach targets the Fiji Sugar Corporation has started to lease out land to plant its own sugar cane.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

8) Fiji’s Sayed Khaiyum defends voter registration

Updated at 4:50 pm on 24 December 2013

Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, says the voter registration process will continue next year with a focus on people who have only recently turned 18.

He says more than 540 thousand people have registered so far, more than the number claimed by the leader of the Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, who says 20 percent of the electorate are yet to be registered.

Mr Sayed Khaiyum takes a swipe at Mr Chaudhry, saying he is trying to turn the matter into a political issue.

Mr Chaudhry raised concerns that with just 9 months to the election large numbers are yet to be registered.

He blamed elections office staffing and says morale among the workers is low.

Mr Sayed Khayum says the currrent process is the most precise and transparent in the country’s history but any calculation of the exact number yet to register is inaccurate, at best.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

MICRONESIA:


9) FSM expands diplomatic reach in Asia-Pacific
By Online Editor
08:52 am GMT+12, 24/12/2013, Micronesia, Federated States of

The Federated States of Micronesia continues to expand its reach in the Asia-Pacific region. In a short official ceremony recently, the FSM and Mongolia signed a joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Mongolia.

The signing was done in Beijing, China by the two countries’ Beijing-based ambassadors, Tsedenjav Sukhbaatar of Mongolia and Akillino H. Susaia of the FSM.

Both countries acknowledged the signing of the joint communiqué as the beginning of a new relation that will require both sides to work together and strengthen it throughout the years to come.

Susaia stated that much work is needed to further enhance the relations that the countries will build for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Susaia expressed the FSM government’s desire to collaborate with Mongolia on issues of mutual interest at both the bilateral level as well as in the international arena.

Staff of the two respective embassies witnessed the ceremony, with minister counselor Jackson Soram accompanying Susaia from the FSM side. Both ambassadors directed their respective staff to commence the legwork to further enhance the relations, including the need to explore the need to cross-accredit ambassadors.

Mongolia is the 71st country with which the FSM has established diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, the  new United Nations resident coordinator and U.N. Development program resident representative to the Federated States of Micronesia based in Suva, Fiji  has presented her letter of credence to Samson Pretrick, acting secretary of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs.

During the ceremony, Pretrick welcomed Lubrani to the FSM and congratulated her. He also thanked her for making time to visit the FSM to formally present her credentials.

Pretrick informed Lubrani that he was very happy to receive her letter of credence on behalf of the FSM government.

He noted that the letter and her visit reaffirm the close working relationship that exists between the FSM and UNDP.

He also expressed the FSM’s appreciation for UNDP’s role as an implementing agency for many projects in the areas of environment, conservation and biodiversity.

Lastly, he indicated that the FSM will continue to work with UNDP in the implementation of these beneficial projects.

Lubrani thanked Pretrick and expressed her readiness to work with the FSM government.

They discussed some areas which needed further cooperation and collaboration, especially the review of the U.N. Development Assistance Framework, the Millennium Development Goals, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and other U.N.-related issues.

Attending the ceremony, were Okeen Ehmes, country development manager of the U.N. Joint Presence, a representative from the World Health Organization, staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the FSM Public Information Office.

During her short visit in the FSM, Lubrani also paid a courtesy call on Vice President Alik L. Alik and the heads/representatives of each department and agency.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/FSMIS/PACNEWS

AUSTRALIA:

10) Crack down on soaring cost of aid

Source:
The National, Tuesday December 24th, 2013

AUSTRALIAN government will crack down on spiralling administrative costs for foreign aid to countries including Papua New Guinea after it was revealed spending almost quadrupled since 2007.
Between 2007 and 2012, Australia’s aid spending doubled from A$3 billion (K6.4 billion) to A$6 billion (K12.9 billion), now costing every Australian A$291.80 (K625) annually.
Data released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows administration was last year the third biggest spend of Australia’s Overseas Development Assistance at A$378 million (K812 million), which is an increase from A$102 million (K219 million) in 2007.
But for Papua New Guinea, the second largest recipient of aid in 2012, the increase of almost A$250 million (K537 million) since 2007 has resulted in limited improvements in areas it is needed the most, according to Keith Jackson who provides PR services in PNG for clients including Bougainville copper.
“The Prime Minister of PNG has said they are happy to receive less aid,” he said. “Like me, locals are looking at the aid spend and wondering where it is going.”
Jackson blames Australian administration for the apparent ineffectiveness of aid.
“AusAID acted like a bank, handing out money to big projects that were poorly managed,” Jackson said. “What PNG needs is small scale projects managed tightly.”
A total of 148 countries and regions received aid from Australia last year, an up from 93 in 2007, with Indonesia, PNG and Afghanistan the top recipients in 2012.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government will monitor aid costs closely, with a focus on administration.
“The Coalition has commenced the development of performance benchmarks to apply to the aid budget to ensure that taxpayer funds are used efficiently and effectively,” she said.
Remoteness, warfare and governments in recipient countries were identified as factors that have contributed to the increased administrative costs. –news.com.au

TOK PISIN:

11) Olgeta Solomon Islands pikinini bai stap long regista

Updated 24 December 2013, 16:31 AEST
Pius Bonjui

Nem blong olgeta pikinini em mama i karim ol long kantri bai stap long regista

Solomon Islands i gat niupela Civil Registration database shoftwere we bai kamapim gut na stretim registration bilong ol pikinini long olgeta hap bilong kantri.

Masu Kevu, Civil Registrar bilong Births na Deaths i tok, dispela i bikpela samting tru bilong lukautim, stap na development bilong olgeta pikinini long Solomon Islands.

Em itok, oli gat nau pepa registration na em i ting bai lusim dispela igo long digital registration long mun February long yar bihian.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRENCH:

12) L’arbre à pain s’envole dans le Pacifique

Posté à 24 December 2013, 8:45 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le Centre des affaires de l’Université d’Hawaï est en train de promouvoir l’utilisation du fruit de l’arbre à pain à des fins industrielles. Non pas en tant que produit commercial et comestible mais en matière première pour la fabrication de farines sans gluten.

Si ce projet abouti, l’arbre à pain pourrait devenir une industrie majeure dans toute la région et les farines sans gluten pourront être exportées aux États-Unis, en Asie et en Europe.

Nous avons parlé au directeur de ce Centre des affaires de l’Université d’Hawaï, Tusi Avegalio : « Ce n’est pas le fruit de l’arbre à pain en lui-même, c’est le fait que sa chair ne contient pas de gluten et que ça intéresse les marchés. Nous travaillons avec une école de commerce et quelqu’un a demandé si nous n’avions pas quoi que ce soit sans gluten dans les îles. Je n’en avais aucune idée. J’ai donc demandé à mes gens de l’agriculture tropicale et ils m’ont dit oui, le fruit de l’arbre à pain. »

Et comment Tusi Avegalio compte développer ce projet pour en arriver à un stade industriel : « Le plus grand défi est de le faire conventionnellement à partir des racines. Cela peut prendre jusqu’à 7 ans entre l’action de semer et la récolte.
Mais les recherches effectuées par Diane Ragobe à l’Institut de l’arbre à pain du Centre national de botanique tropical ont trouvé le moyen avec Susan March de propager l’arbre. C’est un processus extrêmement complexe mais disons qu’il est possible de produire des milliers de petites plantules en quelques semaines pour ensuite les expédier vers des destinations variées à ceux qui seraient intéressés à collaborer avec ce programme. »

Donc, il semblerait que ces chercheurs aient trouvé une solution à un problème qui empêchait l’exploitation de l’arbre à pain : la difficulté associée à la production de masse de l’arbre à pain. Et ce potentiel est maintenant là : « Absolument. Non seulement il est là, mais il est ici. Nous avons étudié le cycle de vie de cet arbre. L’arbre à pain normal prend 7 ans avant de donner des fruits alors que nos arbres à pain donnent des fruits après 3 ou 4 ans. Nous avons la capacité commercial par rapport au nombre d’arbres et la récolte des fruits, est considérable. »

Il faut savoir que le Samoa américain était au départ le plus enthousiaste à ce projet mais cet intérêt aurait maintenant diminué. Mais plus récemment,  Tusi Avegalio, a présenté son projet au Sommet de l’exécutif des pays micronésiens qui eux sont emballés. Est-ce qu’on en est là ?

AVEGALIO : « Oui, oui, ils ont signé un communiqué et nous passons maintenant à la seconde phase. Tous les chefs d’États, les Présidents, les Gouverneurs sont très intéressés et le Commonwealth des Mariannes du Nord sera le chef de file.
Pour le Samoa américain, il y a malheureusement eu un changement d’administration et ils ont eu d’autres priorités par la suite, mais je sais que le développement économique va redevenir une priorité comme il devrait l’être. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

WORLD:

13) Plane wing clips building

Updated at 10:44 am on 24 December 2013

A plane carrying more than 200 people has struck an office building while preparing to take off from the South African city of Johannesburg.

The British Airways flight to London was taxiing at Tambo International Airport when its right wing hit the building and became wedged in it.

South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority said the Boeing 747 had travelled down a taxi-way that was too narrow for it.

The incident involving the Boeing 747-400 happened late on Sunday, the BBC reports.

Aviation authority spokeswoman Phindiwe Gwebu said the control tower told the plane to take one taxi-way and it took another one.

None of those on board was hurt but four ground staff in the building sustained slight injuries.C/- http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/

14) Storms cause chaos in UK, France

Updated at 11:43 am today 25/12/13

Hurricane force winds and heavy rain have lashed Britain and France, killing six people, causing widespread travel disruption and cutting power to thousands of homes.

Winds of up to 145 km/h hit both sides of the English Channel with heavy downpours causing flooding, traffic jams, and the cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services, Reuters reports.

In Britain, the number of people killed in the two days of storms rose to at least five after a man died trying to rescue his dog from fast-flowing waters in Devon, south-west England. A teenager died in France on Monday after a wall collapsed on him.

Airports in southern England were disrupted, with some flights from Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, cancelled or delayed.

British train operators cancelled hundreds of services on Tuesday morning, by which time the storm had abated, leaving hundreds of thousands of people scrambling to get onto later services in and out of London.

Brittany and Normandy were among the regions worst hit in France, where 240,000 homes lost electricity, while in southern England, 150,000 homes were cut off from the power grid, according to the Energy Networks Association.

Conditions were expected to ease throughout the course of Christmas Day, but Britain’s weather forecasting agency has warned of more stormy weather after Boxing Day.C/-http://www.radionz.co.nz/

15) Snowden says mission accomplished

Updated at 1:49 pm today 25/12/13

Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden says his mission is accomplished, because the documents he has leaked to the media has led to protests and calls for political reform.

The United States is demanding his extradition from Russia to face criminal charges related to his release of details of US electronic surveillance programmes.

Mr Snowden fled the US in late May, taking a huge cache of secret documents with him.

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was interviewed in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum on 1 August.

“In terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he told the Washington Post. “As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated.”

Mr Snowden said he did not want to change society, but to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. “All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.”

Later, the UK’s Channel 4 revealed that Mr Snowden would deliver its Alternative Christmas Message – the broadcaster’s answer to the Queen’s message to the nation.

More details of people and institutions targeted by UK and US surveillance were published last week by The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.

The papers said the list of about 1,000 targets included an EU commissioner, humanitarian organisations and Israeli officials including a prime minister.

US technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking steps to block the collection of data by their government.C/- http://www.radionz.co.nz/

16) Ice storm blacks out Toronto

Updated at 8:37 am on 24 December 2013

http://www.radionz.co.nz/

Residents of Toronto face a Christmas without electricity after a severe ice storm enveloped Canada’s biggest city on Sunday.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm system in Canada and parts of the US, which were also affected. Five of those were people were killed in Canada in accidents on ice-covered roads.

Toronto’s power company said about 219,000 city dwellers were without power as of Monday afternoon and while most restorations were expected to be done by Thursday, some residents may not have electricity until the weekend.

Temperatures as low as -15°C were expected over the next few days and the city has opened several warming centres across Toronto for those withouth piower.

An estimated 10-30 mm of ice built up on trees and other surfaces in the greater Toronto area during the storm. Sheets of ice fell from buildings and off moving vehicles.

Over the border in the United States, many flights were also cancelled due to the storm, at one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

HEALTH:

17) Solomon Islands Hospitals Short On Painkiller Drug
Medical staff allegedly limited in duties amidst Pethidine shortage

By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 24, 2013) – The Solomon Islands, through its main hospitals, is reportedly experiencing a shortage in painkiller known as Pethidine.

Sources close to the Solomon Star said the pain reliever has been out of stock for some time now which restricted nurses and doctors from carrying out some of their operations.

According to medical dictionary this particular medication is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

“It works on the nerves and brain to reduce the pain you feel. It is particularly useful for treating pain associated with child birth and can also be used to ease pain before, during and after an operation.”

At the main Gizo hospital, the shortage of the painkiller is being experienced, according to reports reaching the paper.

Last week a mother who visited the dental clinic at Gizo to have her teeth fixed was unable to do so after she was told that there are no painkillers.

She told the paper from Gizo over the weekend that as result nurses and doctors there could not pull out her aching teeth.

She was given another medication to reduce pain and infection while waiting for the pain reliever to arrive before an operation can be conducted.

“I was told to visit the hospital next week once the painkillers arrive,” she told the paper while referring to what the nurses had told her.

However the source doubts that painkiller will be available at the Gizo hospital next week.

“This is because at the National Referral Hospital similar shortage is being experienced for sometimes now,” the source said.

Attempts to get comments from the national medical store or the pharmacy yesterday proved unsuccessful.

Solomon Star

EDUCATION:

18) More than half of Solomons teachers stranded at Christmas

Updated at 4:48 pm on 24 December 2013

The general secretary of the Solomon Islands Teachers Association says a shortfall in teachers’ travel allowances has stopped more than half of the country’s teachers from going home at Christmas.

Walter Tesuatai says under agreed arrangements, the local government education authorities are to meet 50 per cent and the national government the other 50 per cent of the cost of teachers’ leave passages.

But he says the ministry of education has only come up with a third of the one point six million US dollars required and the local education authorities with nothing.

The ministry could now take on the responsibility of paying teachers’ leave passage and housing allowances along with their salary. The ministry should take over teachers’ welfare.

Walter Tesuatai says this year has been very difficult for teachers, with many of them still awaiting pay relevelling dues.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

19) PNG Teachers Storm Provincial Treasury In Oro
Teachers protesting unpaid leave monies arrested

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 24, 2013) – Papua New Guinea police have arrested a group of teachers who broke down the door to the Oro provincial treasury office yesterday.

The angry teachers were protesting the non-payment of their leave entitlements by the provincial treasury office.

PNG Teachers Association Oro branch vice-president Tau Anego said by telephone from the province that the teachers were arrested.

No comment could be obtained from police although Anego said the teachers were later released.

Oro Governor Gary Juffa admitted recently that the funds allocated for the teachers’ leave entitlements had been diverted elsewhere.

He said he was going to investigate the matter.

Anego said the teachers were frustrated because the allocation for their annual leave entitlements had been spent by the provincial government on other matters.

About a quarter of teachers in the province were left without any entitlements and could not leave for their homes.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, The National also reports deputy opposition leader Sam Basil as lashing out against the PNG’s Department of Education over mismanaging teachers’ annual leave fares.]

“K1.478 million [US$578,959] was allocated in the provincial budget for teacher leave entitlements,” Anego said.

Anego said when teachers confronted the Oro treasury office, they were told that the provincial administration had allocated K1.223 million [US$479,071] for their entitlements.

“The initial amount has decreased by K200,000 [US$78,343]. Where has that money gone to?” he said.

“To make matters worse, according to a list I have from the provincial treasury, only K628,000 [US$245,999] has been paid so far.”

Anego said the teachers were advised that the balance of the funds was used to pay off outstanding expenses by teachers for last year’s leave.

“Such a shallow explanation led to the teachers eventually storming the treasury office leading to their arrest,” he said.

He said the Oro provincial division of education had allocated K365,000 [US$142,977] but that was still not enough to cater for all the teachers in the province.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

BUSINESS:


20) Challenging but successful year for Air Niugini
By Online Editor
08:46 am GMT+12, 24/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea national airline, Air Niugini has described this year as both challenging and successful for the company.

Air Niugini’s Chief Executive Officer, Simon Foo said it was challenging with new initiatives for the airline such as acquisition of new aircraft and cabin fitting and upgrading for some of their aircraft.

Foo said for this year, the airline was able to expand its operations in the region with new flights to Bali, Indonesia and direct flights to Nadi, Fiji.

In the domestic front, the airline also resumed service to Kundiawa, Simbu Province recently after the airline stopped operations there for more than two years.

He said the airline has also improved a lot on its on time performance this year. We are happy and moving in the right direction”, Foo said.

Foo also said the airline will maintain its current fleet of 30 aircraft. He said the airline is profitable and they look forward to business as usual in the New Year.

Air Niugini in November, during the airline’s 40th anniversary announced a net profit of K100 million and a gross turnover of K1 billion in the last financial year ending declaring a K7.6 million dividend to the State Public Enterprise. The profit was mainly attributed to the construction phase of the LNG project.
POST COURIER/PACNEWS

21) MRDC: Fiji outlay big

Source:
The National, Tuesday December 24th, 2013

The Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) has invested a huge sum in a property development project in Fiji in anticipation of a big return, chief executive and managing director Augustine Mano said.
He said the recent investment was big and would increase returns.
Mano said MRDC and two of its subsidiaries were joint investors in the property in Fiji with them having a third  of the joint venture.
“MRDC is one third, and then you have MROK (Mineral Resources Ok Tedi) and PRK (Petroleum Resources Kutubu).
“These three partners made the decision after looking at the investment proposal and thought it is a very good investment.
“We were convinced that it will increase the returns,” Mano said.
Fiji Sun recently reported that the big boost to Pacific Harbour as a tourism hub was continuing through major investment by PNG’s MRDC early last month.
It came with the opening of the Pacific Bar and Grill at the clubhouse as part of the The Pearl Championship Golf Course’s upgrade.
As new owners of The Pearl South Pacific Resort, Spa and Championship Golf Course, MRDC was investing US$99 million (K240 million) in the property.
Come 2015, the investment would complete three phases of construction-building for the property.
These are the marina, which is expected to open next month and the building of the new wing and renovation of the old wing of the resort.
Mano said: “We did it because of our diversification.
“It’s like you have the Lamana group and Nasfund, who are doing their own investment in Fiji … ours is similar.
“For us it’s part of diversification and also in terms of our influence in the Pacific.
“The returns at the end of the day is the economic decision,” Mano said.
Mano said: “In Fiji it has to do with tourism. Tourism is like their heart … just like PNG’s mining and petroleum”.

22) Briefly

Pacnews/Smh/Aap
Monday, December 23, 2013

BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF

Tonga makes top 10

OWING to its 176 pristine islands, Polynesian traditions, migrant humpback whales and low tourist numbers, Tonga is a fantastic off-the-beaten track destination for adventure travellers. In fact, this tiny, remote island kingdom is in Lonely Planet’s top 10 best beaches and small islands for travel in 2014. The remote Ha’apai Archipelago features in Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2014 as one of the top 10 regions in the world for natural beauty, cultural riches and “scintillating sea kayaking”. It would be pretty hard to be much more remote than these 62 islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, way out in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. It takes an adventurous sort just to get to Tonga, but to venture to its central island group of Ha’apai to see the lush, reef-fringed islands, swaying palm trees, tropical sunshine, breaching humpback whales, technicolour tropical fish, scintillating sea kayaking, and even a smoking volcano — all amid a sleepy, seductive Tongan outlook on life.

Cap on visas

AUSTRALIAN Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has revoked his cap on protection visas for asylum seekers rather than face a High Court challenge from the same refugee lawyers who overturned Julia Gillard’s Malaysia people-swap policy. Frustrated that Labour and the Greens were blocking his plans to reintroduce the Howard government’s policy of temporary protection visas, Mr Morrison imposed a cap on the number of protection visas. This would have prevented any new visas from being issued to asylum seekers before July 2014. But as refugee lawyers lined up to challenge the decision, the Immigration Minister recently ordered his department to revoke the temporary cap on protection visas for asylum seekers. Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said she did not think it a coincidence that Mr Morrison had reversed his decision on the same day it emerged that the “very sharp” team of refugee lawyers would challenge him in the High Court.

Project to lift PNG

PNG is preparing itself for a massive windfall from the Exxon-Mobil led Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, due to go online in 2014. The project is expected to push PNG’s economic growth above 20 per cent — potentially making the Pacific island nation the fastest growing economy in the world. In preparation for this, the government of Peter O’Neill in late 2013 introduced its second deficit budget in as many years, plunging the country into the red to the tune of $US5.6billion ($F10.66b) with the aim of delivering desperately needed basic services to the nation’s seven million people. He has also put companies on notice that large-scale resource projects will have to deal with a more activist government. Mr O’Neill has emerged as the nation’s most powerful prime minister.

Albacore concern

THE American Samoa Government says it is concerned about the plight of the territory’s albacore fishing fleet and the governor has appointed a committee to help them. Earlier this month the owner of Longline Services Incorporated, Carlos Sanchez, said local owners of albacore fishing boats are selling up because they are struggling to maintain viability. One of those on the new committee, is the director of commerce, Keniseli Lafaele, who says the department has been supportive of the industry. Mr Lafaele says issues affecting longliners are the lack of docking space, escalating port charges and overtime payments to government workers who clear their boats after hours. But Mr Sanchez says they have made up their minds to sell their fishing boats because the price of fish has plummeted, the cost of fuel is high and the government’s port charges are unaffordable. Mr Lafaele says the government cannot do much to influence the world price of albacore.

LAW&ORDER:

23) PPC: Border drug smuggling a concern

Source:
The National, Tuesday December 24th, 2013

WESTERN provincial police Commander Silva Sika says alcohol and drug smuggling at the Daru-Torres Strait border crossing remain a concern for police during the festive season.
An alcohol ban has been imposed in Western from Dec 16 to Jan 5 but traditional border crossing continued, he said.
Sika said despite limited manpower, his officers were prepared to tackle the issue with the help of law and order support officers in the communities and villages.
“Traditional border crossing is still continuing between Daru and Torres Strait,” he said.
“We know there will be smuggling of alcohol and other illegal items and we are prepared for that.”
Sika said alcohol smuggling across the border was just one of the issues he had outlined in the Christmas and New Year operations which was launched last Tuesday.
He appealed to the people of Western to respect other residents in their respective communities.
Western Governor Ati Wobiro presented two new police vehicles to Kiunga and Ningerum police stations at the launch of the festive season operations.
Wobiro made a commitment to improve the existing police stations and police barracks next year.
####
Phils Opinion: If you do have time watch The Straits…ITS MIAMI OF MELANESIA! Its based on real life story and whats happening today between Australia/The Straits and PNG)

The Straits is an Australian television drama series for ABC1 [2] filmed in Cairns, theTorres Strait Islands and other Far North Queensland locations.

The series follows the Montebello family, whose business involves smuggling drugs into Australia as well as guns and exotic wildlife out, making use of ties of blood and loyalty in the Torres Strait Islands. When Harry Montebello, the head of the family, starts to plan his succession, he sparks a vicious family power struggle. While under attack from ambitious bikers and mercurial Papua New Guinea Raskol gangs, the family must hold together through torture, assassination, and imprisonment.[2]

24) Police hold expat woman

Source:
The National, Tuesday December 24th, 2013

POLICE have charged an expatriate woman with deprivation of liberty after a local she employed as a housemaid complained of being confined in the home.
National Capital District police arrested the 55-year-old Filipino woman on Sunday and detained her at the Boroko police station in Port Moresby.
The 27-year-old housemaid who has been working for her since 2005 hails from Kabakaul village in East New Britain.
A police source said she was paid K100 a fortnight and recently complained to a relative that she was never let out of the house.
The housemaid told police her employer forced her to carry out household duties and told her not to leave the home at Five-Mile.
Police went to the house last Sunday and told the maid she could leave the home.
The expatriate woman was charged with deprivation of liberty, among other charges. The police source said the housemaid alerted her cousin in a text message on Saturday about her plight.
The cousin reported the matter to police at Six-Mile.

( Phils Opinion : Thank Goodnez for mobile phones )

25) More villages to join violence-free intiative

TIMOCI VULA
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Update: 12:22PM MANY more villages and settlements in Fiji will be able to take advantage and be part of the government’s initiative to create violence free communities in the coming year.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation plans to expand the coverage on the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign in the rural and maritime communities around Fiji.

Minister Dr Jiko Luveni confirmed that with a budgetary allocation of $750,000 to the Womens Plan of Action, the ministry will be able to reach out to more womens groups, particularly through the programs for Elimination of violence Against Women and Children (EVAW).

So far we have got 60 communities on our Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign and gatekeepers committee has been formed in each of these communities, and the initiative is headed by the leaders of the communities, particularly by the male leaders, traditional leaders, women and youth leaders in communities that have undergone eight to 12 months of awareness programs and training on addressing violence at community level.http://www.fijitimes.com/

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT:


26) Developing countries still waiting for a global response to Climate Change: ACP

By Online Editor
2:24 pm GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Belgium

As president of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi had the perfect forum to voice his concerns about the effects climate change has had on his island nation.

Tuilaepa, who chaired a two-day ministerial conference in Brussels, earlier his month  said that climate change was responsible for the frequency of natural disasters that have befallen Samoa in recent years.

“This is the view shared by most, although sadly we are still waiting for a concerted global response that would at least halt climate change,” he told delegates. Samoa will host the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014.

He said that the extreme danger climate change, ocean acidification and environmental degradation posed to the world could be overstated, adding that “the consequences of this to our island states and all our ACP membership would be devastating” as some observers think “the very existence of low-lying island countries could be in jeopardy.”

Tuilaepa said that assistance from partners such as the European Union (EU) was urgently needed by all ACP countries to support efforts to develop climate resilience through mitigation and adaptation measures “if the sustainability of our development efforts and long-term prospects are to have any meaning.”

Jamaica’s ambassador to the ACP, Vilma Kathleen McNish, told IPS that the Caribbean has had to deal with the impact of climate change and it was “obviously a huge challenge.”

“For some of us … it is existential. We rely so much on our coastline in terms of tourism, which is one of our major economic livelihoods,” she said.

She said that the impact of climate change was evident in the Caribbean with sea levels rising and the resultant depletion of fish stocks. There were also increased occurrences of hurricanes. She said that this disrupted the economy of the Caribbean and the livelihoods of its people.

“So for us, climate change at the individual and regional level is a major challenge.”

She said that the SIDS summit in Samoa would be critical for the Caribbean and other developing countries because it would look not only at climate change but at various issues that affect small island developing states leading up to the post 2015 development agenda.

“Most countries in the region [Caribbean] are now putting in place policies geared towards adaptation and mitigation. We still believe, however, that the international community has a responsibility to support our countries in our development,” McNish said.

South Africa’s ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi told IPS that the ACP’s engagement with the EU on this and other matters should be based on the principle of equality, non-conditionality, non-interference and mutual benefit.

“We should call on the international community to commit to limiting a global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius in a legal instrument, and agree to a common global goal on adaptation as a way to recognise that, despite its local and context specific needs, adaptation is a global responsibility,” Nkosi said.

Tuilaepa said that Samoa, like other SIDS, remained highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.

In the 1990s the Pacific Island nation suffered two devastating cyclones that wiped off industries and businesses that contributed 50 percent of GDP. Tuilaepa said this devastation reversed “economic progress by more than a decade”.

In September 2009, the island was struck by a deadly tsunami that killed more than 140 people and left thousands homeless. In December 2012, another cyclone struck, killing people and wreaking havoc on the infrastructure and the economy.

“For a small island country with a small population, the losses and setbacks from these natural disasters are hardly bearable,” Tuilaepa told IPS.

He said while he was grateful to the EU and other developmental partners for coming to the aid of the island, “Samoa’s experience is repeated in all our Pacific Island countries and, I am sure, right across the ACP membership.”

Last month, ACP countries agreed on a common position paper on the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Warsaw, Poland.

The 79-member grouping said adaptation to climate change and mobilising funding from a variety of sources were immediate and urgent priorities for ACP member states that should be addressed in a comprehensive manner at the global level with the same level of priority as mitigation.

IPS/PACNEWS

27) Drought In Southern Cook Islands Reaches Critical Stage
Weather service says dry spell expected to continue to February

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 21, 2012) – Weather forecasters in the Cook Islands say a drought affecting parts of the Southern group has reached a critical stage on some islands.

The Meteorological Service says weather patterns in the Cook Islands are a mixed bag, with rain in the northern group of islands and drought in the eastern part of the southern Cooks.

The Director for the Met Service, Arona Ngari, says there has been insufficient rain for three to six months on Mangaia, Aitutaki and the Nga pu toru islands including Mitiaro and Mauke.

“Some precautionary measures have been sent across to them like distillers or some water pumps, some quality check for water that can be used to purify water from the bore holes. So it’s pretty critical and people are starting to come to grips with the situation.”

Arona Ngari says while downpours are predicted to fall in Rarotonga over the next two days, the dry spell is expected to continue for the drought-affected islands until February.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

SPORTS:

28) BRIEFLY

Aap, Afp, Ap
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

More changes

SYDNEY – The changes continue to ring out at Central Coast with striker Adam Kwasnik ruled out for the season, adding to a month of upheaval for the A-League’s defending champions. Mariners Phil Moss admits it will take some work to restore the titleholders back to their championship-winning ways after enduring a difficult initiation.

Comeback

MELBOURNE – Jackson Bird’s four-over cricket comeback last Friday night had a Test match feel for Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott. While Bird will play no part in this Ashes series, the paceman wants to be in contention for next year’s South African tour and McDermott agrees it is a feasible goal.

Syd-Hobart

SYDNEY – Celebrated yachtsman Iain Murray is predicting a torturous mental challenge for crews in the Sydney to Hobart race today. A revised weather forecast for the race has altered predictions of a possible race record to the chance of a yachting lottery due to a lack of wind.

Friendly

PARIS – France will play three friendly matches before departing for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The French Football Federation said that Les Bleus will play games at the Stade de France on May 27, in Nice on June 1 and in Lille on June 8. Their opponents will be revealed early in the new year.

New deal

MOSCOW – Russia coach Fabio Capello is set to sign a new contract after agreeing the final details of the deal, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Monday. Mutko did not give further information about the nature of the new contract but Russia have been keen to secure the former England manager’s services up to the 2018 World Cup, which the country will host.

Fellaini out

LONDON – Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed that Marouane Fellaini is set to miss six weeks following surgery to his wrist but is hopeful the midfielder will return sooner. The 33 million euros ($F85.39 million) summer signing from Everton has been absent since the start of December due to a back problem.

Iniesta stays

BARCELONA – Barcelona’s emblematic midfielder Andres Iniesta signed a three-year contract extension with the La Liga leaders on Monday, keeping him with the club until at least 2018. “Andres Iniesta signed his new contract with FC Barcelona at midday,” the club said in a statement.

5-year ban

LONDON – The Tennis Integrity Unit says Spanish player Guillermo Olaso has been banned from the sport for five years and fined $25,000 for match-fixing. Olaso was found guilty of three corruption offences in 2010, including directly or indirectly seeking to “contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any event.”

29) Nadroga-Navosa awaits netball visit

Arin Kumar
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

National netball coach Unaisi Rokoura participates in a netball tournament earlier this year. She will be in Sigatoka on Friday and Saturday to conduct coaching clinics. Picture: FILE

NATIONAL netball coach Unaisi Rokoura will be in for a treat when she visits Sigatoka this Friday and Saturday.

She will conduct a coaching course at Lawaqa Park and the Navosa Netball Association will use the event to display its players to her.

Association president Judy Kumar said it would be their bid to get some players from their district into the national netball side.

Kumar said clubs in Nadroga and Navosa have been informed of the clinic and more than 100 participants are expected to show up.

“In previous years, Nadroga was the champ of netball when Vilimaina Davu, Sisi Howard, Kelera Nadalo and Elenoa Vatureba were chosen to play for Fiji but now none of our players are in the national team because we really lack interest,” Kumar said.

“I suppose we need to revive the sport and get more players into the national team, so I urge everyone who loves netball to be part of the two-day clinic.”

Kumar said they wanted to show Rokoura players such as Nanise Bulou, Seruwaia Makutu, Elenoa Vatureba, Ana Tuiyawayawa and Unaisi Vatureba.

“Looking at team from the Central Division, they do not have the height but here in Nadroga/Navosa we have tall players who can join the national team, so we urge the players to come and attend the clinics.

“Also we would like to urge the national body to give some incentives to players especially from Nadroga/Navosa because we have a lot of tall players here.

“I am sure Una will see the tall players from Navosa like Nanise Bulou and Unaisi Vatureba for the national under-21 team.”http://www.fijitimes.com/s

30) Arsenal frustrated by Chelsea in draw

Afp
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

LONDON – Arsenal missed their chance to return to the top of the English Premier League after being held to a bruising 0-0 draw by title rivals Chelsea in a spiteful London derby on Monday.

This was the final English top-flight fixture before Christmas at the Emirates Stadium as Chelsea battered Arsenal with a series of bruising challenges.

John Obi Mikel was fortunate to avoid a red card after the Chelsea midfielder crunched into Mikel Arteta, while Arsenal also complained they should have had a penalty for Willian’s challenge on Theo Walcott.

It was a frustrating night for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who failed to secure his first win over Jose Mourinho at the 10th attempt and as a result saw his side waste an opportunity to climb back above leaders Liverpool.

Instead, second placed Arsenal go into the Christmas program level on points with Liverpool but behind the Anfield outfit on goal difference.

“We should have won it,” Wenger said.

“They came here to defend and catch us on the break. We were a bit edgy at the start but we took control in the second half.

“It was 100 per cent a penalty when Theo Walcott was fouled. I don’t know why it was not given.”

Chelsea, who moved up to fourth and are two points behind Liverpool, finished the more satisfied side after stifling Arsenal with ease and creating the better of the few chances on offer.

“We controlled the game defensively. It was a tactical match, a match where neither side wanted to lose,” Mourinho said.

“We want creative players who use the ball and kill opponents. But there are some matches where we have to take one step backwards and play with a different philosophy.”

Mourinho sent Chelsea out in a 4-5-1 formation, with Fernando Torres as the lone striker, and that cautious approach worked impressively as Arsenal struggled to find any rhythm.

It didn’t help that torrential rain and gale-force winds lashed the Emirates throughout the match, making passing something of a lottery.

31) PNG Sports Minister marks 2014 as year of implementation
By Online Editor
10:22 am GMT+12, 24/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Minister for Sports and 2015 Pacific Games Justin Tkatchencko said next year will be the biggest year for sports in the country.

It will not get any easier after 2013, a year earmarked by Prime Minister Peter O’Neil as the Year of Implementation but the foundation has truly been laid for 2014 – the year of Implementation and Construction.
Tkatchencko said 2013 had seen great challenges for the 2015 Pacific Games preparations. In order to achieve this, Thatchencko appealed to all stakeholders and the media to support the cause.

He made the remarks at a function in Port Moresby last Friday.

He said the government would be spending over K400 million on sporting infrastructures and venues alone in National Capital District for the 2015 Games.

This covers Aquatic Centre at Taurama, Sir John Guise stadium – both indoor and outdoor, the new Games Village at UPNG and Rita Flynn netball courts.

Sports Minister said they had just approved the contract for Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium and “everything is moving forward in a huge way”.

“To all the media friends, we are on target, on track and on time to deliver the Games,” Tkatchenko said.
The Moresby South MP said under the leadership of O’Neill government, he chose to take all the issues facing these preparations head – on.

“We inherited the games two years behind scheduled but this government and ministry have got it back on track, we are now moving forward,” Tkatchenko added.

It is a remarkable turn-around from the doubts that surrounded the country’s ability to host the 2015 Pacific Games over the past two years since the successful bid in 2009.

The Moresby South MP cautioned PNG could not afford be complacent.

There was no time to waste as July 4, the date of the opening ceremony, was drawing nearer.

The two lead bodies, the Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation and the PNG Sports Federation through their Go for Gold (G4G) were striving to get the country’s athletes ready and the positive results had already been achieved.

Meanwhile,  Tkatchencko would be looking at channelling more government funding in cricket next year.

He said that his office or Ministry would have little to do with rugby league after Sandis Tsaka was elevated to chairmanship post, taking over from Don Fox.

He said rugby league is off his radar and he had to move on to help other struggling sports.

The Minister said cricket is doing so well for Papua New Guinea at international tournaments including tournaments in Australia.

“They are moving on international scene like never before. May I say, it’s not sponsored by the government by corporate entities,” he said.

Tkatchencko said he was embarrassed that government have not supported cricket at international tournament.

“But at the end of the day, they have done it – well done, well done.  They came out in flying colours.

“The young men are doing well in cricket now is so fantastic so we will be re-looking at our funding and objectives for cricket for 2014. We will be sitting down with all the stakeholders and the management of Cricket PNG, making sure they are fully backed by government as well to take them to next level,” he said.

Tkatchencko said their results have paid off. PNG Cricket is really proving very successful and they have the results to show for.

But cricket must not forgot that the government has provided them extra free land to build the third cricket oval under the  compulsory acquisition of the land at Bisini Parade, he said.

“We gave the free extra land, so they receive extra fund the International Cricket Conference funding to meet their requirements that will allow them to take another step forward which is another major win for Cricket PNG.”.
THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

32) Flying Fijians to play the Cooks in June, Argentina in for Pacific Rugby Cup
By Online Editor
10:25 am GMT+12, 24/12/2013, Fiji

The Flying Fijians will take on the Cook Islands in the Oceania final on June 28th in Fiji, where the winner will qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The International Rugby Board on its website has listed the game to be played on the Saturday, which will be a one-off match and will be played in the country.

The Cook Islands qualified for the play-off match after winning the Oceania Cup played earlier this year.

The winner from the match will be placed with Australia, England, Wales and a play-off winner for the 2015 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Argentina is set to be represented in the 2014 Pacific Rugby Cup for the first time ever.

Argentina´s best domestic based players will again come together to compete as Los Pampas XV.

The change from the Vodacom Cup to the PRC is good news for Argentine rugby as its looks to build bridges into a region in which it has had limited contact previously.

The teams taking part will include the Fiji Warriors, Japan, Tonga, Samoa and the Australian Super Rugby franchise development teams.

The PRC will start in February.

FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

33) Tongan rugby player earns Winter Olympics spot

By Online Editor
10:23 am GMT+12, 24/12/2013, Tonga

A Tongan ex-rugby player who got a new name thanks to a marketing ploy for “Coconut Powered” men’s underpants in Europe has qualified to compete at the Winter Olympics in Russia next year.

Luger Bruno Banani, 25, will be Tonga’s first winter Olympian, Matangi Tonga website reports.

Tonga’s government, which has been on the verge of financial default for much of this year, says it will give T$50,000 to the newly formed royal controlled Tongan Luge Association to get Banani to Russia.

Four years ago Banani was rugby player Fuahea Semi and had never sat on a luge.

Banani qualified after finishing in 28th position out of 42 competitors at the World Cup Championship race final held last weekend in Park City, USA.

A total of 110 lugers (men, women and doubles) will compete at the Olympics.

“Bruno had a good 2013-14 season…it has been a long road to Sochi but we finally made it,” his manager Mathias Ihle says.

“Bruno has an outstanding personality as an ambassador of Tonga and managed to become an accepted member of the international luge family.”

Banani’s entry into luge has been controversial thanks to the way he ditched his Polynesian name to become the European face of “Coconut Powered” men’s underpants. It is as if All Black Daniel Carter changed his name to Jockey Support.

In 2008 then 18-year-old Semi was playing rugby and serving in the Tongan army when a German-US marketing company, Makai Events Promotion Company, announced he had been chosen to train for luge with elite German athletes.

Semi was registered with the International Luge Federation but then disappeared, only to re-emerge bearing the name of a German high fashion and sporting goods label.

Banani claims he inspired the Coconut Powered brand, saying he got his sports prowess from coconuts.

With Banani becoming an Olympic prospect a Tongan Luge Association was created, despite the fact that the kingdom lacks a luge run at all – and its main island, Tongatapu, is pretty flat.

The association has named Princess Pilolevu Tuita as its patron.

Surprisingly the new luge association committee includes ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi who used to be an executive committee member of football’s world governing Fifa. He was banned for two years for corruption during the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 world cups.

Fusimalohi and Mali’s Amadou Diakite posed as lobbyists on how to bribe Fifa officials.

Tonga has competed at every Summer Olympics since 1984 but never a Winter Games. It includes one medallist among 31 Olympians, 1996 Atlanta Olympic super heavyweight boxing silver medallist Paea Wolfgramm.

FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS

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