Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 917
1) Former Ramu MP dies
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
A FORMER Ramu MP, who served in the first House of Assembly, died last week after a short illness in Bogia, Madang.
James Meangarum was from Igom village, in the Yawar local level government.
He collapsed last Tuesday at his plantation home near Banara and was taken to the Daigul Health Centre.
Meangarum was among those elected to the first House of Assembly in 1964 with founding fathers such as Sir Micheal Somare, Sir John Guise and Sir Albert Maori Kiki.
They were instrumental in pushing for independence for Papua New Guinea.
He served in the House of Assembly from 1964 to 1972. He was at the forefront during talks between the United Nations Trusteeship Council and Commonwealth of Nations for the eventual independence of PNG.
Meangarum was the brain child behind the introduction of the political party system in PNG.
Meangarum recalls himself being “The poor colonial boy in the First House of Assembly who said ‘Yes Sir’ instead of ‘No Sir’ for his country to achieve independence for Papua New Guinea free and
He was a prominent figure in the initial creation of Papua and New Guinea United (PANGU) Pati, the first PNG indigenous political party.
The Bogia-Madang Highway named after him was his initiative as well as the quarters for public servants at Bogia Station.
He is survived by seven children and grandchildren.
2) Vanuatu’s Minister Of Internal Affairs Passes Away
Patrick Crowby Manarewo, 55, was evacuated to New Caledonia last week
By Jonas Cullwick
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 30, 2013) – The country’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Patrick Crowby Manarewo, has died at the Gaston Bourret Hospital in Noumea New Caledonia, at the age of 55.
His death comes five days after his medical evacuation to the French territory on Monday for him to receive further medical treatment after his hospitalization at the Vila Central Hospital last Friday evening.
The Daily Post still has no confirmed information on the cause of his illness that has resulted in his death.
An official statement from the Office of the Prime Minister released Friday afternoon says “the Government of Vanuatu regrets to announce to everyone that the Right Honorable Patrick Crowby Manarewo (MP), Minister of Internal Affairs and Members of Parliament for Port Vila Constituency died at Gaston Bourret Hospital in Noumea, New Caledonia today, Friday, December 27, 2013 at 2.30 pm”.
Patrick Joseph Manarewo Kalpuaso Crowby, whose father is from Paama and mother from Ifira Island, was born on July 6, 1958 in Port Vila.
A ni-Vanuatu politician, who has just completed the first year of his second term in Parliament as a member of parliament for Port Vila constituency, Crowby began his career as a primary school teacher in 1978.
Ten years later after the country’s independence from Britain and France in July 1980, then young Crowby began setting his eyes on politics and maneuvering himself for positions of power he would one day attain.
His first big opening would come five years later when in 1992 he was appointed president of the sub-committee of the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP). Five years later, through further political maneuvering, Crowby hit the first big political jackpot, when he was made the mayor of Port Vila, this time under the National United Party, for the position he held until 2004.
Crowby served as the Prime Minister’s Public Relations Officer and spokesman for the government from 2004 to 2008. During this time too, he was chairman of the Board of Directors of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC).
He was elected to Parliament in one of the five seats for Port Vila in 2008, and was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs in the Government of Prime Minister Edward Natapei. In the ensuing years through political upheavals, Crowby was removed. In April 2011 after several changes in Government, Serge Vohor of the UMP came to power and subsequently appointed Crowby Minister of Internal Affairs.
But after court challenges to government changes Crowby lost his cabinet position, but in June 16, 2011, he was restored to Minister of Internal Affairs under Prime Minister Edward Natapei.
However, on June 26, 2011 when the Prime Ministerial position was restored to Sato Kilman, Crowby lost his position in government.
Crowby languished in the backbench of Parliament until March 20, 2013 when he was one of the eight MPs who crossed the floor and caused the Kilman government to be brought down. Prime Minister Moana Carcasses appointed him Minister of Internal Affairs three days later, the position he held until his death.
Crowby was the Mayor of Port Vila when he introduced the one-way traffic system for Port Vila where the traffic only flows one way from Fung Kuei to ANZ Bank and in the Opposite direction from Unelco to Chew Store.
As mayor he created the Seafront green space the way it is today and the Fatumaru green space along with the waterfall that has been named Manarewo Falls.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister says logistical arrangements are being made to bring Crowby’s body back to Port Vila on Monday evening, December 30.
It says a state funeral will be held to honor the late Government Minister, and details will be announced on Monday.
In the meantime, the Government is appealing to everyone to remain calm as the country awaits the return of the cabinet minister’s body.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
3) Fiji rugby president passes away
Monday, December 30, 2013
THE Fiji Rugby Union has lost another of its favourite sons in Ratu Isikeli Tasere.
The FRU president passed away on Boxing Day at his home in Nepani, Nasinu.
Ratu Isikeli, who is the chief of Nayawa Village in Nadroga, is a former mayor of Sigatoka Town.
He was elected as the FRU president in 2011 while heading the Nadroga Rugby Union.
This year he stepped down as NRU president and was replaced by Tiko Matawalu.
Ratu Isikeli represented Fiji on several occasions including the 13-14 loss to the All Blacks at Buckhurst Park in Suva in 1974. The team was captained by Vilikesa Mocelutu.
Ratu Isikeli is one of Nadroga and Fiji’s powerful front rowers.
He played with Isimeli Batibasaga, Ravuama Latilevu, Lote Tuqiri, Peter Hughes, his cousin Aminiasi Naituyaga and Peceli Kina during Nadroga’s nine-year reign of the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.
The village of Nayawa has produced top Fiji reps such as Senitiki Nasave, Naituyaga and the late Aminiasi ‘Steelman’ Naituyaga.
He is survived by his three children and wife Kelesita.http://www.fijitimes.com/
4) Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 December 2013
Thank you for enabling a week to re-locate my office. There has been little enough by way of hard news anyway. Yes, the Minister of Internal Affairs did pass away in New Caledonia, Prime Minister Carcasses having insisted upon his travel to the supposedly better treatment in the neighbouring territory. Patrick Crowby Manarewo’s body returns tomorrow for a state funeral. His contribution to the city of Port Vila, whether by attraction such as the waterfall or community service such as the suburban dispensaries, will be long remembered.
Normal Vanuatu Daily news should resume tomorrow (and stories missed re-packaged). For the moment, something of mine which has already appeared in Daily Post …
Political appointees and diplomats implicated in passport sales
By Bob Makin
Radio New Zealand International – RNZI – has reported on the Commission of Inquiry into Diplomatic Passport Sales in Vanuatu. It says political appointees and former Vanuatu diplomats are implicated. Sadly, this is not exactly new in Vanuatu. The system, or lack of it, has previously provided benefits to political appointees and ministers, civil servants and to various governments. The practice has continued for decades and brought condemnation of leaders whose wrong-doing obtains sufficient public attention. Prosecutions rarely follow.
The three-month Commission of Inquiry commissioned by Justice Minister Jonas James looked at alleged sales from 2002. RNZI said the five man commission discovered that the sale of passports was done despite there being no legislation in place to guide the issuance of diplomatic passports. The inquiry found that from 2002 tom 2007, before the enactment of the Foreign Service Act and the Passports Act, there were many anomalies over diplomatic passports.
Sometimes passports were issued to persons showing titles which do not exist within diplomatic ranks, and other diplomatic passports were issued to de facto partners and middlemen for delivery overseas. Between 2007 and 2008, when Minister George Wells was Foreign Minister, the Ministry issued diplomatic passports as hand written documents.
The Commission has made a number of recommendations, RNZI says. The public has not been informed of these recommendations.
Vanuatu is no stranger to passport sales, whether ordinary or diplomatic, and from well before 2002. Former Ombudsman Marie-Noelle Patterson condemned successive Vanuatu governments for the practice and also for the use of the cash thus obtained. Between 1996 and 1997 roughly 300 passports were believed to have been sold under a “passports-for-cash” programme. Unlike as in Tonga, the Marshall Islands or Nauru, there was no legal basis for such sales under Vanuatu law.
In 1994, two Australian real estate developers presented schemes to the Vanuatu government involving passport sales to investors. Real estate businessman John Avram and his Melbourne associates suggested an offshore financial centre on Moso Island with its own bank, casino and companies registrar which would offer residency and citizenship to business investors. The scheme was approved, but never implemented.
Later in the same year, the Olilian group proposed attracting roughly 3,000 wealthy Asian investors by establishing an offshore financial centre and Free Trade Zone. It was to be Santo-based with commercial, hotel, medical and residential facilities and would offer Vanuatu passports to investors. However, the promoters were charged with fraud. The scheme failed.
In March 1997, Richard Jae-yong Jung, of South Korea with criminal convictions including counterfeiting approached then Prime Minister Vohor and Finance Minister Willie Jimmy, later Foreign Minister Vital Soksok, to propose a “passports-for-cash” scheme. His company Resort Las Vegas was to build a 350-room US$ 100 million hotel and grant investors permanent residency and passports for a suggested price of VT 700,000 each. Jong was granted honorary citizenship of Vanuatu on 29 April of that year and he was issued with an ordinary Vanuatu passport on May 5. In September of that year he was appointed Vanuatu Trade Commissioner to South Korea and also received an official passport. The Vanuatu Ombudsman found that Soksok and Vohor had “acted in a grossly incompetent and naive manner” and suggested they resign. They didn’t. A number of changes to the passport issue system were were proposed, but nothing was done.
The Mondragon scheme for a Free Trade Zone at Big Bay has been recently mentioned by this newspaper because of the present government’s Commercial Diplomacy Task Force deciding to appoint Mondragon’s Stefan Mandel to run the Vanuatu Registry Services in Hong Kong. The agreement for the futile exercise at Big Bay would have given Mondragon the “operation of consular offices” for Vanuatu “starting with Israel and Belgium,” as well as establishing the FTZ with “full exemption from all taxes, duties and other levies” to which the Vanuatu government would have been entitled. Mandel will still get to choose the rich Asian businessmen for Vanuatu residency under the present CIIP “new product” of the present government.
In 2007, Vanuatu Foreign Minister George Wells said he would cancel some 40 diplomatic passports out of a total of 248 which were outstanding. However, there continued complaints that officials were still selling passports and the business continued until last year as the Magistrates Court has recorded in relation to the Phocea’s illegal entry and other cases.
A further 40 diplomatic passports were cancelled by Minister Joe Natuman in 2009 following European countries expressing concern over passport mis-use. Prime Minister Natapei commented to RNZI in an interview that even he had to have his passport checked for validity when traveling, owing to the poor reputation of our passports. In November 2010, Alex Chung, Vanuatu’s honorary consult to Singapore, was arrested for illegal possession of a diplomatic passport.
2009 saw the scandal of the issue of a Vanuatu passport to Amarendra Nath Ghosh who had been consul in Thailand. In addition to his diplomatic passport Ghosh illegally obtained an ordinary Vanuatu passport. These, of course, should only be supplied to Vanuatu citizens. Ghosh had never applied for naturalisation. The head of the Citizenship Commission was condemned by the prime minister at the time. Ghosh later claimed to be trapped in India and said he would sue the Vanuatu government because of lack of a travel document owing to a decision of the Citizenship Commission which denied him citizenship.
The Passport Act of 2009 tightened requirements for diplomatic passports, putting them under the control of a Passport Services body. However, in late 2010 a local newspaper reported more foreigners holding Vanuatu diplomatic passports than Vanuatu citizens.
It is to be hoped that the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Diplomatic Passport Sales will be made public in the near future. There was criticism of government only introducing the changes to the Citizenship provisions of the Constitution at the last minute, as Parliamentarians were entering the debating chamber in some cases. That was on 29th November, less than a month ago. This writer is not aware of any official public statement since then, pointing out the exact change to citizenship for the purposes of public awareness. The official government position concerning the CIIP “new product” also needs to be made clear. And the government must explain the recommendations it has received concerning the illegal issuance of diplomatic passports and whether it intends to abide by them. The matter is one of huge public interest.
5) Fiji expected to name election supervisor
Updated at 2:59 pm today
Fiji is expected to name by tomorrow the body tasked to oversee the elections promised for next September.
The minister responsible for the elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said earlier this month that plans for the polls were on track and the Constitutional Offices Commission would be appointed by the end of December.
That Commission will then recommend to the President the members of the Electoral Commission as well as a choice for Election Supervisor.
The Fiji regime had appointed Felicity Heffernan as supervisor in 2008 but shortly afterwards her post was vacated because the regime leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, reneged on his promise to hold elections in 2009.
According to the constitution released by the regime this year, the Constitutional Offices Commission is to include the leader of the opposition.
However, as a result of the 2006 military coup, there is no parliament.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
6) Fiji Opposition To Contest Elections On It’s Own
NFP will not join coalition, leader says
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 30, 2013) – Fiji’s opposition National Federation Party (NFP) says it will fight next year’s democratic elections under its own name, and not as part of a coalition.
NFP is part of the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, a group of opposition parties including Labour and SODELPA, which was formed to oppose the military government of interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama.
The president of the NFP Raman Singh told Pacific Beat the members felt that all parties should stand on their own and there was no unhappiness in taking that route.
“Bearing in mind that the system of voting is proportional and Fiji has been declared to be one constituency… the decision for the time being is that the NFP will fight the election on its own,” he said, adding that the relationship between all three parties is “pretty good”.
“Particularly when the ballot paper or the number of candidates would be large, ranging from three to four hundred, and… a voter is only allowed one vote.
“So that is the problem we hate and with a limited knowledge about the election system, our members felt it’s better to fight the election on our own.”
Mr Singh says the main reason for forming the coalition is “for the restoration of democracy” and “to put pressure on the powers that be”.
“I think we’re achieving that purpose, we’re still having meetings,” he said.
“We have not reached the stage where we are going to decide how to fight the election.
“I think the fact that we joined together has put pressure on the government, that we were serious.”
Mr Singh says the members of the coalition have taken the time to learn more about each other.
“We have got to known the leaders of the other parties very well, frequent meetings and we know their thinking and would have laid the base for a coalition government at a later stage,” he said.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
7) Legal Scholar Supports American Samoa Citizenship Lawsuit
Plaintiffs get help appealing dismissal of suit claiming U.S. citizenship
By Fili Sagapolutele
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 28, 2013) – There is a new twist in the appeal by six American Samoans who filed their citizenship lawsuit, along with a California based Samoan organization against the federal government arguing that they are entitled to being U.S. citizens under a provision of the U.S. Constitution.
The lower court in June this year dismissed the lawsuit, and sided with the U.S. State Department, the federal government, and two officials of the U.S. State Department. The defendants have asked the appeals court in Washington D.C. to affirm the lower court’s decision.
However, on Dec. 20, a professor of law in the U.S., one Samuel Erman filed a notice with the appeals court of his intention to file an ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of the court) brief in support of the plaintiffs. [PIR editor’s note: Sam Erman is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould Law School.]
The notice states that in accordance with a provision of the federal court, Erman “will explain the concept of ‘jus soil’ citizenship in the United States.” Additionally, “this amicus brief may be joined by other professors and scholars of American citizenship.”
(According to Princeton University website, ‘jus soli’ — is Latin ‘for right of the soil’ — and is commonly known as birthright citizenship.)
As of last Friday, there were no other details filed by Erman with the appellate court.
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
8) American Samoa won’t lift excise for tuna caught in the EEZ
Updated at 4:56 pm today
The American Samoa government Treasurer, Falema’o Pili, says he will not waive excise tax on fish caught by local longliners within the territory’s exclusive economic zone.
The president of local company Longline Services Incorporated, Carlos Sanchez, says it took them more than 10 years to prove that they did not need to pay a five percent excise tax on fish caught within the EEZ.
He says that is the view of the attorney general’s office and the fishing operators had hoped the Treasurer and the Customs office would have abided by it.
Falema’o Pili accepts that fish caught in the American Samoa EEZ are exempt from the excise tax but the difficulty is proving where they are caught.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
Monday, December 30, 2013
WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF
SYDNEY – A taxidriver was seriously injured during an altercation with a colleague. Emergency services were called to Bondi just before 11pm on Saturday where they discovered the 59-year-old with head injuries. He was taken to hospital, where he is in an induced coma. The man’s head and arm were in the other cabbie’s window when he drove off.
MELBOURNE – Victorian firefighters have spent the night controlling two large grassfires after facing extreme conditions that threatened lives and homes. Firefighters managed to stop out of control blazes at Pental Island, along the Victoria-NSW border near Swan Hill, and in Sedgwick, near Bendigo. Both fires had sparked emergency warnings on Saturday evening.
Four on the run
SYDNEY – Four men are on the run after a violent home invasion in Sydney. Police say at 12.15am yesterday three men forced their way into a home on Flushcombe Rd at Prospect armed with a gun and a knife. The group threatened the people inside before stabbing a 23-year-old man in the stomach.
SYDNEY – A move to impose additional fees on patients to visit their GP could limit access for the disadvantaged, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) believes. News Corp Australia reported yesterday a Commission of Audit into government services has listed co-payments as an option for the federal government to consider.
ADELAIDE – The slaughter of six miniature horses south of Adelaide was a targeted attack, police are stressing after charging a man over the killings. A 50-year-old man is facing charges in the case, which had prompted widespread outrage from animal lovers and even the state’s premier. But police stress the deaths in Clayton Bay are not believed to be a random act.
SYDNEY – Former NSW doctor Graeme Reeves has been released from Long Bay jail after he successfully appealed an 18-month increase to his sentence for mutilating a woman’s genitals. Reeves was found guilty in 2011 of removing Carolyn DeWaegeneire’s clitoris and genitals. Medical Error Action Group spokeswoman Lorraine Long said she was shocked at news.
HOBART – A cyclist has died in Tasmania after a crash with a utility. Police say the cyclist died in the collision on the West Tamar Highway in Launceston yesterday morning. No further details are known at this time. It is the second road fatality in Tasmania during the holiday period and the 16th across the country.
10) PNG NGO itok oli no anti divelopman
Updated 30 December 2013, 14:48 AEST
Ol non gavman grup long Papua New Guinea itok gavman imas apim moni em ol mining kampani imas baem igo long kantri long 30 percent.
Deputi siaman blong ‘Papua New Guinea Group against Seabed Experimental Mining Wenceslaus Magun i mekim despla toktok taem despla nupla grup i redi long makim nambawan mun blong ol olsem wanpla bikpla NGO grup long kantri.
Toktok blong Mr Magun i bihaenim tu askim blong mipla sopos ol strongpla wok na toktok blong ol egesim ol wok mining i mean olsem oli no laikim tru ol wok divelopman long PNG.
Despla grup i karamapim ol laen olsem Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, Partners with Melanesians, Mas Kagin Tapani, Four Maisin, Madang Indigenous Peoples Forum, PNG Council of churches na planti oil narapla laen ken.
Long ol despla yia igo pinis planti ol NGO grup iwok long fait strong long gavman imas luksave long rights blong ol pipal long saed blong environment blong ol, na tu long sidaon na laif blong ol long ol graon blong ol.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
11) PNG: une vendetta jette 20 familles à la rue
Posté à 30 December 2013, 14:57 AEST
Leurs maisons ont été brûlées par les habitants d’un autre village. Une histoire de vendetta qui a commencé avec l’assassinat d’un jeune homme.
En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, 20 familles sont sans abri depuis vendredi dans le village de Sing, à Bougainville. Le gouvernement de Bougainville leur a distribué des tentes, et des rations de riz le temps que le village soit reconstruit.
Les habitants de Sing ont en effet été victimes d’une vendetta à la bougainvillaise. Un des jeunes du village aurait tué un homme de la région de Solos, sur l’île de Buka, toute proche de l’île principale de Bougainville.
En réponse les gens de Solos sont donc venus brûler 90 maisons de Sing. Les trois seules maisons qui ont été épargnées dans ce raid vengeur, ont été méthodiquement pillées.
Les députés bougainvillais ont lancé un appel au calme pour mettre fin à cette guerre entre les deux villages. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
12) Requins: l’Australie Occidentale montre les dents
Mis à jour 30 December 2013, 15:14 AEST
Les requins qui s’approcheront à moins d’un kilomètre des côtes seront abattus dans les quatre prochains mois.
Plus précisément, la population visée est celle des grands requins blancs, des requins-tigres et des requins-bouledogues de plus de trois mètres. Ils se prendront dans les filets et ce sont les marins-pêcheurs qui procèderont à l’abattage.
C’est la mesure principale du plan présenté par Colin Barnett, le Premier ministre de l’Etat, en début de semaine dernière, pour enrayer la recrudescence des attaques mortelles de requins. En Australie Occidentale, sept personnes sont en effet mortes sous les dents de requins en l’espace de trois ans. Mais certaines espèces, comme les grands requins blancs, sont protégées en Australie.
Ce plan anti-requins provoque donc la résistance des défenseurs de la faune. Ils annoncent qu’ils saboteront toute opération de capture et d’abattage des grands poissons. On écoute Ross Weir, le fondateur de l’association des Australiens de l’Ouest pour la sauvegarde des requins :
« Nous incitons tous les Australiens comme nous révoltés par ces mesures, à monter sur leur bateau jusqu’au nouveau filet protecteur à 1 kilomètre des côtes, et à jeter l’ancre à 50 mètres des bateaux des pêcheurs occupés à tirer sur les requins, pour les filmer. »
Mais cette opération bénigne en apparence violerait le code de la pêche d’Australie Occidentale. Les défenseurs des requins pourraient écoper d’une amende de 25 000 dollars et/ou 12 mois maximum de prison. Le Premier ministre Colin Barnett a réitéré ses mises en garde :
« S’ils troublent l’opération d’abattage, ils seront poursuivis en justice. Nous ne voulons pas que le public s’approche de ce genre de scènes, ça pourrait être dangereux. »
Tony Cappelluti, le directeur du Département de la Pêche d’Australie Occidentale, met lui aussi en garde les défenseurs des requins :
« Le Département des Transports a pour mission de surveiller les filets protecteurs, et d’empêcher toute personne de s’approcher de ces installations. »
Des menaces qui n’impressionnent guère Ross Weir, bien conscient de l’illégalité de ce qu’il promeut :
« Nous ferons tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour empêcher le massacre des requins et documenter, filmer, ce qui se passe au niveau des filets. »
De toute façon le défenseur des requins n’envisage pas de recourir à des méthodes plus musclées que l’enregistrement des scènes d’abattage :
« Notre but ultime est de convaincre le gouvernement de l’Etat d’abandonner l’abattage. Il y a des alternatives au massacre, par l’éducation des surfeurs et nageurs, la recherche et la prévention. C’est la seule méthode qui fonctionne pour faire baisser le nombre d’attaques de requins. »
Certes mais les requins ont tué 7 personnes en trois ans et une majorité d’Australiens d’Australie Occidentale soutiennent l’abattage si nécessaire. La réponse de Ross Weir:
« Certes, mais il faut dire une bonne fois pour toutes que ce sont les humains qui vont dans l’océan, ce sont eux qui envahissent le domaine des requins, et pas le contraire. »
Ross Weir, de l’association des Australiens de l’Ouest pour la sauvegarde des requins, répondait aux questions de Caitlyn Gribbin sur l’ABC.
13) France approves 75 per cent tax on high income earners
Updated 30 December 2013, 9:19 AEST
Europe correspondent Philip Williams and wires
A French court has ruled a tax rate of 75 per cent on the rich is now constitutional after it was modified by the government of president Francois Hollande.
A controversial French tax to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than 1 million euros ($1.55 million) a year has been approved.
France’s constitutional council gave the green light to the temporary but controversial “millionaire tax”, a signature policy of president Francois Hollande designed as a 75 per cent tax to be paid by high earners.
The council, a court comprising judges and former French presidents, rejected the tax last year, saying it was unfair and violated the constitution.
France’s top administrative court later said that 66 per cent was the legal maximum for individuals.
The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.
Under its new design, which the council found constitutional, the tax will be a 50 per cent levy on the portion of wages above 1 million euros in 2013 and 2014.
Including social contributions, the rate will effectively remain about 75 per cent, though the tax will be capped at 5 per cent of a company’s turnover.
The tax is expected to affect about 470 companies and a dozen soccer clubs during 2013 and 2014, and is forecast to raise approximately 210 million euros ($325 million) a year.
French football clubs went on strike earlier this year because of the large number of players earning above the new tax threshold.
Clubs said the plan could spark an exodus of top players in the country.
Other wealthy individuals have condemned the tax saying it unfairly targets them including French actor Gerard Depardieu, who left the country in protest.
However, recent polls suggest a large majority of the French population back the tax which will be used to bring down the huge public deficit.
14) US Air Force’s Northern Marianas divert airfield closer
Updated at 2:59 pm today
The United States’ National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 includes a provision of 29 million US dollars for the development of a U.S. Air Force divert airfield in the Northern Marianas.
The CNMI’s delegate to Congress, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, has been working with the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to place some limits on the Air Force, as the question remains as to where this field will be sited.
The Air Force wants it on Saipan but the territory’s government wants it on Tinian.
The new law also requires the Pentagon to report to Congress by June the 25th on the feasibility of having National Guard units in the CNMI and American Samoa.
The defense bill also includes almost 500 million dollars in spending for military construction projects in Guam.
The divert airfield is intended to be an alternative landing base for Air Force planes if Andersen Air Base in Guam becomes unavailable because of weather or war.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
15) Taiwan Provides $1.53 Million To Solomon Islands
Taipei agrees to fund 25 rural development projects
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 28, 2013) – Taiwanese ambassador Roy Wu, Monday, released $11.2 million [US$1.53 million] to the government for 25 development projects.
The funding, which came under the “National Development Fund” was received by Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo.
The Government submitted the 25 development projects for funding to the Taiwanese embassy November this year.
A statement from the embassy said the projects are focused on various prioritised development, including agriculture tractor, timber milling, health centre, transportation vessel, solar project, sporting activities, roads improvement and maintenance, housing and lighting, water and sanitation, primary and secondary schools, and women and youth advancement.
Mr Wu said Taiwan has been fully supporting the Government to implement its policy to advance the development of rural villages, and help to alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life for rural people.
Prime Minister Lilo said the Taiwanese funding support will enhance the livelihoods of rural Solomon Islanders who are struggling to make ends meet in the rural communities.
“Although these are small projects they will have long and big positive impact to empower the rural economy of Solomon Islands,” Mr Lilo said.
He thanked Taiwan for the assistance.
16) We do not need Aussies
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
By ELIZABETH MIAE
PAPUA New Guinea is unfazed by an Australian decision to withdraw funding for a medical supplies programme and says it does not need Australian help to distribute medical drugs to health facilities throughout the country.
Health Secretary Pascoe Kase and Health Minister Michael Malabag said they were unaware of any decision by Australia to withdraw from an agreement to distribute medicine to health centres in the country, but it would not affect medicine getting through to all health centres.
The pair was responding to media reports last week that Australia had withdrawn funding of A$38 million (K90 million) for the distribution of medicine in PNG because of concerns about local company, Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals, which had been recently awarded a national contract to supply medicine.
Australia was concerned that the company did not have international ISO 9001 quality management accreditation and they had been linked to a Chinese supplier of sub-quality drugs.
Malabag said on Friday that PNG was capable of managing its own affairs as a sovereign country without outside interference.
“What will Australia withdraw when they are not paying for the medical kits in the first place.
“This is purely a PNG government-funded programme and Australia, through AusAID, has to respect that instead of using the same corruption language,” he said.
Malabag said submissions from three bidders went through the Health Department’s technical and evaluation committee, the State Solicitor and the Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB) before recommendations by the National Executive Council.
“… the other two bidders were disqualified by the CSTB as not registered in PNG.
“This is not Australian money and it does not mean their preferred bidder automatically gets the tender,” he said.
Kase said the Government had sufficient funds to pay and distribute medicines to health centres throughout the country and Australia would continue to support health programmes, including the Angau and Lorengau hospitals.
17) SG to work on bonds
Monday, December 30, 2013
THE new Tertiary Education Scholarships and Loans Scheme board will work closely with the Solicitor General’s Office on matters relating to scholarship bonds when a student is granted the scholarship.
Board chairman Dixon Seeto said the board would work with the SGs’ office because this was a legal issue.
“We will get some assistance from them in terms of the wording of documentation and also if there are some supportive legislation that we might need to put in place,” he said.
Government made public that overseas studies will be merit-based and will apply only to programs that are not available in Fiji and is of high priority to the government.
It stated that for bonding, all full scholarships awardees would be bonded for a period that is 1.5 times the period of the study.
Mr Seeto had earlier stated they would try their best to fulfil the applicants’ aspiration as well as the human resource needs of Fiji in the future. The board is expected to work on the scholarships once applications starts to roll in when the Fiji Seventh Form examination results are released.
18) Samoa Language Center In Hawai‘i Receives Multi-Year Grant
Le Fetuao Center works to preserve, maintain Samoan in the U.S.
By Fili Sagapolutele
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 28, 2013) – The Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center has received a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) to preserve and maintain the Samoan language, including $211,639 for the first year of operation. It is the first ever award by the ANA for Samoan language preservation and maintenance in the U.S.
Responding last week to this landmark award, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) said, “This is an important step and a powerful acknowledgement of the importance of the Samoan language and culture in our nation.”
“While we in Hawai’i are aware of the impact Pacific Island cultures have on our community, this will give Le Fetuao a chance to spread that knowledge across the U.S. I want to congratulate and thank the center for their hard work and commitment to their language and culture,” she said.
Elisapeta Tuupo-Alaimaleata, the Center’s founder and Executive Director, said the grant’s impact will go beyond just the language. “We have a strong family-oriented project that’s providing learning opportunities that teach not just the language, but values in our culture. Hawaii is such a diverse community and one thing we need is to value our cultures and languages in a humble, respectful and honorable manner. Our work under the grant will support grassroots opportunities to empower families to value education for their children in general.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Samoan language and culture for future generations. The objectives of the grant are to document a Samoan Language Curriculum for Hawaii and mainland, develop a Samoan language teacher certification process, and expand our site. This is all new to our Samoan community in Hawai’i, but we understand the effort is valuable.
“I want to acknowledge the very valuable assistance we received from the Administration for Native Americans under the leadership of Commissioner Lillian Sparks. The ANA not only provides discretionary funding for community-based projects, but also offers free training and technical assistance through its Pacific Regional TA Provider, Ka’anani’au, LLC. We as a Samoan language learning center and community are very grateful for all the help and assistance they provided to reach our language preservation goal.”
The Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center operates free learning services to help youths and families living in Hawai’i, providing free Samoan language learning sessions to all who wish to learn the language.
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
19) Kina falls against major currencies
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
THE local currency kina has depreciated against most major currencies, Bank of PNG (BPNG) governor Loi Bakani said.
Bakani revealed this when providing a currency overview in the September 2013 Quarterly Economic Bulletin (QEB) last Tuesday, saying as of Dec 20, the kina depreciated against the pound sterling by 9.7%, the Australian dollar by 7.4%, euro by 8.2%, yen by 4.9% and the US dollar by 5.7%.
“The depreciation against the major currencies is attributed to high import demand and lower foreign exchange inflows,” Bakani said.
He said the BPNG continued to support foreign exchange market during the year and as a result, the level of gross foreign exchange reserves declined to K6.841.4 billion (US$2.859.7 billion) as of Dec 20, from K7.213.8 billion (US$3 billion) at the end of Sept 2013.
Bakani said to address the downward trend of the kina exchange rate, central bank introduced several measures on liquidity management and foreign exchange market operations followed by additional ones this month.
“These measures resulted in the official inter-bank market exchange rate stabilising at around US$0.41 and the subsequent in-house commercial bank trading rate at some margin below that, since October.
“Consequently, the central bank’s intervention in the foreign exchange market has eased and international reserve level has stabilised at around US$2.8 billion, which is sufficient for around eight months of total and 13 months of non-mineral import cover.
20) People now back seabed mining
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
THE lack of tangible development, especially along the west coast of New Ireland, has turned the tide in support for the Solwara 1 Seabed Mining Project.
In a statement, local communities situated along more than 100-km of shoreline have declared their full support for Nautilus Minerals to proceed with the world’s pioneering deep-sea mining operation.
It is in direct about face to their initial rejection of the project.
The change in stance was highlighted during a recent community awareness programme by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geo Hazard Management in the area to highlight and educate impacted communities on amendments and progress of policy formulation to the Mining Act.
Among those who attended were representatives of developer Nautilus Minerals, the provincial administration, local-level government representatives, NGOs and impacted communities.
The meeting at Messi village saw representatives of the four communities of Messi, Kono, Konogogo and Ratugu in unanimous support of the project because of the lack of government services from the provincial headquarters in Kavieng.
21) Expert visits farmers
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
COCOA farmers of Mafanazo village, in Lower Watut, Morobe, have been visited by a Monpi Cocoa Exports representative to help them improve their production.
They were accompanied by primary industry officers from Morobe Mining Joint Ventures.
Monpi Cocoa Exports, through its Monpi Sustainable Services Department, is looking at how it can help the farmers.
Morobe Mining’s primary industry coordinator Steven Mantari said they had been helping farmers in the region since 2010 and were happy that Monpi had shown interest in Watut cocoa.
“Partnerships are important for project longevity,” Mantari said.
“We’re helping farmers by bringing in partners to support and increase cocoa production. Apart from increasing the yields, partners such as Monpi Cocoa can source markets overseas to export the cocoa beans.”
Monpi Cocoa Exports commodity manager Hannah Wheaton said they wanted to find out what farmers were up to in terms of training, tools they had and problems stopping them from reaching their full potential.
She told farmers that Monpi could help with a number of programmes to see them meet their full potential.
“What we can help you with is increasing your production. Producing more cocoa to sell and generate income for you and your families.” Wheaton said.
Farmers said the trainings they had received so far included block management, weed control, pruning and livelihood, integrating food security and cocoa farming.
They are testing out the sun drying technique as well.
22) MRDC: Fiji outlay big
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”.
23) Tahiti seeks China air link
Updated at 2:59 pm today
The French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, says he will try to make it easier for Chinese travellers to get visas in his bid to revive the struggling tourism industry.
Mr Flosse has spent several days in China in efforts to win support for his suggestion to get Chinese airliners to stop in Tahiti to refuel on their way to South America.
The head of China’s civil aviation authorities, Li Jiaxing, has reportedly said resolving the visa issue is a pre-condition for any such development.
While supporting the air link plans, he says it is up to the Chinese carriers to determine if such a link is profitable.
Mr Flosse has also visited the headquarters of Hainan Airlines whose leaders have expressed interest in flying the route.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
24) Fiji Bauxite Mine Employs 80 Local People
Bua Province said to benefit from XINFA operations
By Luke Rawalai
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 30, 2013) – The XINFA Bauxite Mining Company has employed about 80 people within the province of Bua since it began operations two years ago.
Company executive director Sang Lei said many of workers were involved in driving, carpentry works, security and management.
Mr Lei said majority of their workers were from villages in the Bua province and areas around Vanua Levu.
“Since we began operations we had promised to provide employment to the people and we are employing as much workers we can take in,” he said.
“Work rates for our labourers are higher than other labour intensive employments.
“Labourers who hail from outside the province are given a free stay within the company’s facilities and are given free meals every day.”
Mr Lei said they paid out about $1.2million in labour costs to their workers last year.
“We believe that we are playing our part in contributing effectively to the growth of the economy in Nawailevu and the development of its people.”
Company assistant executive director Dereck Qiu said the company was involved in community projects in the Nawailevu area.
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
25a) Chinese Group Looks At Building Sugar Refinery In Fiji
Labasa possible site as industry explores shift from raw sugar exports
By Maika Bolatiki
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Dec. 29, 2013) – Labasa has been eyed as a possible site for a sugar refinery for Fiji.
This was confirmed to the Fiji Sun yesterday by the Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi.
During their recent sugar meeting in London, Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said the Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, had given them a directive for Fiji to have its own refinery.
“We’re working on that now and soon we’re going to have our sugar refinery and Labasa has been earmarked for it,” Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said.
Today a 14-member team from Shanghai, China, will arrive soon from Hong Kong to meet with Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi.
Setting up a refinery in Labasa will be a topic for discussion. In fact the group is keen in setting up a refinery here.
According to Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi the reforms carried out by the Government has helped lift the industry to a new level.
In fact he said the industry had been dying before but with the support of the Bainimarama-led Government “the industry is here to stay.”
He said Fiji was exporting raw sugar for the past 130 years but with the refinery, refined sugar would be exported to international markets.
“Fiji’s new market for its refined sugar will be the Middle East.”
The chief executive officer of the Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council, Sundresh Chetty, hailed the move and praised the Government for its reforms.
The team from Shanghai, China, will meet all sugar stakeholders tomorrow.
25b) BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF
Authorities lay charges
THE authorities in Croatia have charged a pharmaceutical company and 364 people — most of them reportedly doctors — for allegedly rigging the drugs market. Senior managers at the drugs firm Farmal bribed a network of doctors and pharmacists to prescribe the company’s products, officials said. They have been charged with bribery, abuse of power and corruption. Local media said the indictment was the biggest of its kind in the country’s judicial history. Correspondents say the health system could have collapsed if all the doctors implicated were sacked. There are around 5,000 doctors in Croatia.
Police arrest 99
POLICE have arrested 99 people, including two imams, over the sale of 235 tonnes of fake designer clothes and shoes in Spain, officials say. Counterfeit items were made in illegal factories in Portugal and then shipped to distributors in north-western Spain, Spain’s interior ministry said. Sales generated profits of 5.5million euros ($F14.38m) over two years, it said. Part of the money was held at two mosques in the cities of Ourense and Xinzo de Limia, officials said. “The network, of Moroccan origin, had ‘regional delegates’ across Spain who distributed over the past two years 235 tonnes of fake garments and footwear,” it said.
JAPANESE consumer prices have risen at the fastest pace in five years, showing government policies to end its deflation problem may be taking effect. Core inflation excluding food rose 1.2 per cent in November from the previous year, surpassing market expectations. Japan is now more than half-way towards meeting the central bank’s goal of achieving 2 per cent inflation in 2015. This has been because of a massive monetary stimulus policy aimed at weakening the currency and spurring more spending. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said policymakers have been looking to break the country’s “deflation equilibrium”.
PLANS to allow people to pay cheques into their bank accounts using their smartphones have been announced by the Treasury. Rather than go to the bank in person, customers will be able to photograph the cheque, and send it electronically. The technology will allow cheques to be cleared in two days, rather than the six it takes at the moment, and banks say the system will be more convenient and secure. “Moving into a virtual world will actually create a more secure customer experience than the paper experience today,” said Antony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays. Such photos would not be stored on the phone itself.
26) PNG village clamps down on marijuana
Updated at 4:56 pm today
A village in West New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea is trying to eliminate marijuana use among the local youth.
Potne village is a key transit point for drug dealers from Lae en route to Kimbe and to the other island provinces.
Marijuana is also grown locally.
The Post Courier says local women groups staged a protest march condemning the use of marijuana and home brew and demanding something be done about it.
Now elders are using custom authority and say it is bearing fruit with plants being uprooted by the youths and burnt at the Hausboi, or men’s house, witnessed by the elders.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
27) Slower Military Buildup Said To Be Good For Guam
‘More realistic pace’ to help communities, businesses adjust
By Dance Aoki
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 30, 2013) – A slower military buildup could promote a balance between different industries, according to an Adelup official — and that’s good for local business owners and the community.
The military buildup was supposed to be completed around next year, but funding and budget concerns in Washington, D.C., have pushed it back, according to Pacific Daily News files.
Military officials now expect to transfer thousands of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2020 as part of a larger realignment of U.S. forces.
President Barack Obama Friday signed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, allocating almost $495 million in spending for construction projects on Guam in fiscal 2014.
The defense bill’s allocation for the island is the second-highest military construction funding for Guam since fiscal 2010, when $700 million was approved.
But the bill explicitly forbids any money appropriated through the bill from being used for the relocation of Marine Corps forces from Okinawa to Guam or Hawaii.
The buildup still is moving forward, in spite of skepticism that has developed over the years.
“Folks are less apt to believe a buildup will happen,” said Mark Calvo, director of the Guam Military Buildup Office.
“We’ll believe it when we see it” is often a comment Calvo hears from the local business community.
Calvo said the buildup is progressing, but at a more realistic pace.
The funding for Guam’s military construction projects from this year’s defense spending bill was good news for local construction companies, Calvo said, even though the economic impact won’t be immediate.
[PIR editor’s note: It was reported late last week that the governor of Okinawa has signed off “on the long-awaited relocation of a U.S. military base, a major step toward allowing the U.S. to move forward with plans to consolidate its troops on the southern Japanese islands and move some to Guam.”]
“The immediate impact may not be seen for nine to 12 months, but as projects are completed, the reality and magnitude of that money will start to be paid out to the construction companies,” Calvo said.
The buildup director said balancing an economy based on defense projects and the growing tourism industry allows for businesses to be flexible.
“With that flexibility, we’ll have better businesses,” Calvo said. “Slower growth will help everybody apply all parts of the business community more evenly so we don’t experience a Department of Defense boom (for) businesses that only rely on defense activity.”
The balance between tourism and defense will encourage business owners to attract local consumers, not just tourists and military service members, Calvo said.
“(Residents) still enjoy making reservations for 40 on Mother’s Day at a hotel rather than walking down there and you can’t get a seat because there are too many tourists or a ship just came in,” Calvo said.
The buildup director said the rapid growth from previous buildup plans wouldn’t have had a positive impact on the island.
“The boom would have been a huge economic impact,” Calvo said. “Folks were concerned about our infrastructure and the social impact.”
The Air Force and Navy bases have seen their capacity increase over the years, Calvo said.
The most recent NDAA also eased previous restrictions from 2012 and 2013 to use government of Japan funds for buildup projects, Calvo added.
David Leddy, president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, said the business community thinks this year’s defense spending bill is great news for Guam.
“Moving forward, things have to be done right,” Leddy said. “What’s needed is more clarity. I’ve always said that the people will support the buildup; we just wanna know what’s gonna happen.”
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE:
28) Tropical Cyclone Christine upgraded to category three as it approaches the Pilbara coast
Updated 30 December 2013, 7:34 AEST
Tropical Cyclone Christine has intensified to a category three system as it heads for the Pilbara coast in Western Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the storm is expected to strengthen throughout the day before crossing the coast tonight or early Tuesday morning.
Christine is about 220 kilometres north-northeast of Port Hedland and 350 kilometres north-east of Karratha.
The system is expected to make landfall between Karratha and Port Hedland.
Essential cyclone information
In a life threatening emergency call 000
Read the latest cyclone advice on the Bureau of Meteorology Cyclone Warning Centre website
Community advice and warnings are issued by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of WA
Cyclone advices and community alerts are available by phoning 1300 659 210
For medical advice you can ring HealthDirect on 1800 022 222
If you need assistance with preparation or damage phone the SES on 132 500
Main Roads WA updates Pilbara road conditions regularly on their website
Road condition reports are also available by phoning138 138
To report faults or powerlines down phone Horizon Energy on 132 351
Communities along the coast could feel gales of up to 100 kilometres per hour this morning, with residents further inland to feel the strong winds later this afternoon.
The weather bureau has warned of very destructive winds as the cyclone makes landfall, and says gusts could reach over 200 kph.
Authorities have issued flood warnings for the Pilbara region, as heavy rainfall is expected for areas in the cyclone’s path.
And residents in the coastal communities from Pardoo to Dampier are warned of damaging waves and dangerous costal inundation on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
Emergency services have issued community alerts and local governments say cyclone preparations are in place.
What to expect from a category three cyclone
Roof and structural damage to buildings
Power failures likely
Typical wind gusts over open flat land of 165-224kph
A yellow alert has been issued for people in or near coastal areas between Pardoo and Mardie including including Port Hedland, South Hedland, Whim Creek, Roebourne, Point Samson, Wickham, Karratha, Dampier and extending inland to Marble Bar.
A blue alert has been issued for people in or near coastal areas between the Dampier Pneinsula and Pardoo including Broome and coastal areas from Mardie to Onslow, including Pannawonica, and extending inland to Tom Price and Paraburdoo.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
29) Madang Province Promises Help For Drought Stricken PNG Islanders
6 month long drought impacts 5,000 people
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 28, 2013) – People living on the drought-sticken Long Island in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province have been promised help by the provincial government.
A six month drought has been affecting the more than 5 thousand people on Long Island.
The newspaper ‘The National’ reports that nine islanders reportedly died after they ate sago because there was no other food available.
The Madang governor, Jim Kas, visited the island last week after the newspaper carried a front page story highlighting the plight of the islanders.
He says the provincial government will provide weekly charter flights to enable public servants to deliver government services to the people on the island.
The paper reports the people who live there have been missing out on basic government services for years, mainly because of communication problems.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
30) Fearing Land Alienation, Samoan Chiefs Challenge ADB Project
Matai worry about customary land loses through lease/mortgage schemes
By Mata’afa Keni Lesa
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 29, 2013) – A group of matai (chiefs) who care deeply about the future of Samoa in terms of maintaining ownership of customary land has stepped up to challenge the all-powerful Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The group, spearheaded by Lilomaiava Ken Lameta, of Vaimoso and Safotu, has filed a letter of complaint against the ADB over a project they say “could alienate 80 per cent of all land in Samoa.”
Other group members include Teleiai Dr. Sapa Saifaleupolu, of Samatau, Fiu Mataese Elisara, of Sili Savai’i and Leulua’iali’i Tasi Malifa, of Afega.
In a letter to ADB dated 19 December 2013, the four men filed a complaint under policies that are supposed to protect “indigenous” people affected by bank projects.
A copy of the letter has been obtained by the Sunday Samoan. [PIR editor’s note: Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read the letter in full.]
It reads: “This Firm, together with the gentlemen whose names and signatures appear below, wish to submit this letter by way of our complaint of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) work with the Government of Samoa, in alienating Samoan customary lands to be readily available as collateral security for loan mortgage transactions.”
In the complaint, the group points to a 30 per cent default rate on the bank’s own microfinance programme in Samoa – nearly one in three loans.
This is clear evidence, they say, of what could happen if the bank and government build on Phase I and Phase II of the customary land project, and continue to Phase III.
“At this juncture of the ADB and Samoan Government Phase III Project, we wish to give notice that we will galvanize all support to take this matter through all avenues available, including of course, those of litigation in the Courts of law,” the letter reads.
The official complaint against ADB comes despite assurances from the Government in October that there is “no threat to the ownership of customary land.”
The Assurance was issued by Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai. It followed a letter from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to commercial banks in Samoa that any views other than that of the Attorney General over the issue of customary land were “rubbish”.
However, concerns remain that, while ownership of lands may be protected, access to customary land may be lost through leases for loans that cannot be paid back.
In its letter of complaint, the group of matai states that their research shows ADB. and the government of Samoa began their customary land project some 15 years ago, ending in a number of laws, including the Land Titles Registration Act 2008, and the Customary Land Advisory Commission Act 2013.
“We are concerned that the ongoing funding by ADB to help our government implement its intention to allow use of our customary lands as collateral for economic development is tantamount to ultimately alienation of our customary lands, and thereby lead to violation of the rights of our Samoan people here and overseas.”
Under the complaint, the writers call on the A.D.B. to halt the land project.
They say the bank should take into consideration the fact that policies designed to protect indigenous minorities also apply to countries that have indigenous majorities, such as Samoa.
“We ask that ADB refrain from continuing with this project,” reads the complaint.
“These land tenure reforms are incompatible with the indigenous culture and political institutions of Samoa, and they are inconsistent with the needs and aspirations of the Samoan people.”
“This is reflected in polls, which have been conducted by New Zealand based political scientists and the local newspaper.”
As well as A.D.B. policies protecting indigenous rights, Samoa is also signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), ILO 169, and other international human rights treaties,” reads the complaint.
“Customary land is not merely untapped collateral.
“Rather, it sits at the heart of the fa’aSamoa — of the Samoan political and electoral mainstream, as well as its cultural core and family life. Accordingly, customary land rights are entrenched and securely enshrined in the Constitution.”
Signatories of the complaint believe that ADB is “not complying with its own policies in respect thereof; it is not abiding with its own compliance mechanisms and or its engagement requirements, and it is not even following its own operational regulations.”
They state that “We know that the ADB is required to pay special attention to projects, which are expected to displace ‘indigenous peoples’, and we can be certain that in the pivotal issue of mortgages by way of this new security of customary lands for ‘higher economic use’ as ADB is promoting in this Samoan project, it has not done that.
“It has not paid ‘special attention’ to the dire needs of the Samoan people as shall be affected — in fact displaced — by this project.”
Instead, the bank has “merely” provided “all aid and monies” as requested by the government of Samoa.
According to Fiu Mataese, they have “received an acknowledgement from ADB that they have received our letter and promised to give us an ADB response when they start work in January 2014.”
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
31) Locals will clear landslides
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
LANDOWNERS will be held responsible for landslips along the Highlands Highway, Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Martin Lakari says.
They would be asked to clear the slips or landslides under armed police supervision if they deliberately caused the problem, he said.
Lakari said some landslips or landslides were caused by man and not by natural means.
Over the year, people living beside the road deliberately diverted the river onto the road to cause landslides, he said.
“If police see that any landslips or landslides along the road caused by man, the landowners will be asked to clear the road and fix the road at their own expenses,” Lakari said.
“If not, they would be arrested and charged accordingly.”
His warning comes after people living along the road diverted the course of small creeks on to the roads to cause landslides so they could claim compensation from the government and charge fees from the travelling public and motorists.
Lakari said landowners usually took advantage of landslips and claimed money from motorists to drive through and demanded excessive fees from the government.
He said police had now implemented the new Road and Infrastructure Act and if they saw anyone claiming money from motorists at landslips or landslides along the road they would be arrested and charged.
“If there is any landslip or landslides along the road, I want landowners sleeping close to the road to report the matter to the Works Department immediately and allow them to come and fix them,” he said.
32) Youths set foundations for children, Aust police officer says
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
YOUTHS can set the foundation for children to become good and respected citizens of this country with their attitude, an Australian police officer says.
Supt Tim Dahlstrom from the Australia Federal Police in Lae said children could pick up easily the actions of their older brothers and sisters.
“Whether they do it rightly or wrongly, the kids will always follow them,” he said.
“For the young boys out there, the children here are your future. They watch everything you do things.
“That is why the police and communities work together for a better community.”
He said that at Bumbu compound while accompanying Lae police boss Supt Iven Lakatani.
The two police chiefs led a group of police officers from the community policing, juvenile and family violence units to visit youths in three communities and conduct law and order awareness.
Dahlstrom said Australian officers were in the country to assist local police in certain areas of policing including community policing. They will continue to visit communities to conduct awareness.
Community leaders from Bumbu compound Mark Aigal and Moti Zaza applauded the work of police in their community and said they would continue to support the work of police for a safe and peaceful society.
They had organised the Bumbu community task force comprising youths from the compound to assist police.
They are more than happy to be visited by the police.
33) Youth groups in farming scheme
Monday, December 30, 2013
FORTY rural youth groups on Vanua Levu will be part of a farming scheme project headed by Vodafone Foundation Fiji World of Difference program.
World of Difference candidate Eminoni Limalevu introduced a five-year plan for youths in the North.
“I had started piloting the project with the youths in my own village of Vunimoli and their farming schemes has so far been successful,” he said.
“Other districts within the province have come to know about these farming schemes and they have shown their interest for the program to be implemented within their youth groups.
“The plan includes a short, mid and long-term goal which has to be achieved by each youth from the profits he derives from his farm.”
Mr Limalevu said the project was for seven years when youths were expected to reap the benefits.
“The project is planned for 14 villages within the Labasa district including 26 settlements on Vanua Levu,” he said.
“Its aim is to reduce poverty and social issues in rural iTaukei villages through planned agriculture over a seven-year period in an effort to foster productive youths.
“We will also be closely working with youths on challenges faced through their traditional farming practices in rural villages like extensive planting, improper management, unplanned harvesting, time management problems, weeding and the lack of commitment due to improper planning.”http://www.fijitimes.com/
34) All quiet on the Adrian Lam front
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
THE reasons for the sacking of Adrian Lam will be made in due course.
Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League board chairman Tsandis Tsaka said the media and the rugby league community needed to be patient and understanding and the information would soon be forthcoming.
“You (media) will be advised in due time. I only ask for your understanding as we move forward to address the many issues affecting rugby league in PNG,” Tsaka said in an email response to questions on Lam’s removal and the appointment of Mal Meninga as new coach.
“I nor the board can fix all the problems with a magic wand but know that we are working hard and I have inherited an organisation and sport that has been beset by many problems.”
Attempts to contact Lam, PNGRFL chief executive officer Brad Tassell and Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko to comment on the sacking have been successful.
It is understood that Tassell flew to Sydney last week to formally deliver the PNGRFL’s decision to Lam, while the Tkatchenko has taken a short break from official duties but will be back after the New Year.
Tassell has not returned to the PNGRFL office in Port Moresby since leaving last Tuesday.
Sources say the decision to remove Lam was taken after a brief meeting between Tkatchenko, the board and Meninga at the beginning of the month.
Lam, who was supposed to head the Kumuls to the 2017 World Cup, came under criticism after PNG missed out on a quarter-final berth at the World Cup in England last month. Player and staff dissension were among a string of problems linked to Lam’s tenure.
35) Chung promises “big year” in 2014
The National, Monday December 30th, 2013
THE Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) has a big year planned for 2014.
Joint Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and PNGFA president David Chung said apart from the PNGFA Congress they will be implementing the elite academy programme into full-swing.
Chung who carries the title as one of six world regional FIFA vice-presidents recently accompanied FIFA president Joseph Blatter to witness the FIFA World Cup final in Marrakech, Morocco.
Chung, in an email from Marrakech said they had a chance meeting with the King of Morocco Mohammad VI during a tea break while they were having a strategic committees meeting on the planned 2014 FIFA congress.
He said the senior men’s and women’s teams will also begin preparation for the World Cup 2018 qualifying tournaments with a few international matches.
“While planned infrastructure development for Bougainville and Kimbe and flood lights for the Lae Academy and a major refurbishment of facilities will also take place,” he added.
Chung made a point that a review of the domestic competition and junior development pathway is essential and more coaching and referees courses by the OFC are also in the pipeline.
In regards to the 2015 Pacific Games, he said preparation is on-going and will concentrate more as time draws near.
“This is especially in regards to developing the facilities at Bisini Parade and the building up of the tempo of the selection process of the national men’s and women’s teams,” Chung said.
“In the first week of January I will invite partners, player’s representatives and business houses members’ representatives to have strategic meeting for the future of the PNGFA,” he added.
Chung also they will also be ironing out the plans to bid for the FIFA Congress 2020 to be staged in Port Moresby as major priority for the long term.