Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 926


MELANESIA:

1) Papua separatists say MSG ministers witnessed repression

By Online Editor
09:12 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Indonesia

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation says foreign ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been able to see first hand Indonesia’s suppression of the Papuans.

Papua has seen an insurgency since Indonesia took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.

On Monday, Indonesian police arrested dozens of people in Jayapura when the MSG ministers briefly visited on a mission to vet a formal application by the Coalition to become an MSG member.

Papua police are quoted as saying there were no arrests, beatings or intimidation, adding that some people were taken in for questioning.

The Coalition’s Vanuatu-based vice-chairman, Otto Ondawame, says while Indonesia shifted the purpose of visit to one about economic co-operation, the ministers’ lack of access to Papuan civil society was obvious.

“It has become clear that Indonesia kills or suppresses the people on the ground for demanding political change. So they are very happy they witness the true colour of the Indonesian government as the colonial master.”

Ondawame says he appreciates the stance of Vanuatu, which pulled out of the visit just days before it was to go ahead.
SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 January 2014

by bobmakin

The latest news concerning the formation of the Port Vila town council has the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), Vanuaaku Pati (VP) and Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) working together to run the Port Vila Municipal Council. A “reliable source” says the three parties are ready to go to the mayoral election next week. The informant said it was decided UMP would hold the mayoral role, and VP that of the deputy. Pressure from electors, the source added, has insisted that the mayoral position goes to one of the two big and oldest parties in the country, their history going back to before Independence. Formerly they were always the strongest parties. However in recent years there have been many break-away groups owing more to political ambition on the part of the leadership of such movements rather than to any new political vision or philosophy. The Radio Vanuatu News source said there were other possibilities than a VP / UMP / GJP municipal council they had considered, but these would all havemajor impacts on the national coalition government. That said, there is also likely to be an impact on the national government with the VP / UMP / GJP mayoral solution, the Greens’ PM Carcasses having expressed himself and announced his preferred candidate soon after the election.

The Prime Minister has also expressed himself on the subject ofmaritime safety in Vila Harbour. He said that small rescue boats would be needed in the capital following the shipping mishap last week which saw the sinking of the MV Fresh Cargo. The vessel was in difficulty between Hat Island and Devil’s Point, just outside Mele Bay on which lies the capital. The patrol vessel RVS Tukoro needs a crew of 20 and takes quite a while to be made ready for any unexpected voyage. Of course there must be an inquiry concerning the mishap or mismanagement of Fresh Cargo at the time, with many lives in danger.

The Director General of the Agriculture Ministry says there will be a meeting next week to look into the question of the Chinese fish processing plant at Blacksands near Port Vila. DG Aru said the government has been seriously considering making the project operative to grow the economy of the country. Technical issues remain, Aru said, like the question of maritime traffic in Mele Bay and the safety of the anchorage, but the ministry hopes these can be overcome to get the project serving its purpose this year. It should be noted that Green PM Carcasses was against the project when protest meetings were held some years ago.

The Assistant Secretary General of the Tafea Provincial Government, David Tovuvur, says there is need for outside help to deal with the tension which has arisen with the move to change the provincial Secretary General. A mediator will need to be appointed, says Tovuvur, to work through the many issues.

The Tafea Provincial Council has signed an agreement with the Niko Letan council of chiefs of Tanna, Radio Vanuatu reports. It would seem the move follows the introduction of the new land legislation to require customary responsibility for land matters. The Nikom Letan has been a significant force in Tannese customary matters for a very long time.

An international consultancy based in the Solomon Islands is presently helping the Vanuatu National Provident Fund to develop its 5-year strategic plan and to review the processes of the VNPF. The project will also assist in developing a plan for the human resource development of personnel. This was revealed by Finance Minister Maki Simelum, although Radio Vanuatu News did not give the name of the company.

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 15 January 2014

by bobmakin

Radio Vanuatu News this morning reports social media producing many good ideas for the newly formed municipal council, and for its mayor to be announced later today. Vanuatudaily’s contribution to the suggestions for the town hall continues to be that municipal police officers must require all rubbish collection camions and pickups (municipal and privately owned contractors’ vehicles) to be equipped with tarpaulins to cover household and shop waste. Refuse of this kind flies out of vehicles wherever they can gain speed from USP to Etas. A Greens national administration and a complete Environment Department have been unable to ensure this sort of essential town housekeeping yet, despite the experience, goodwill and helpful endeavours of the JICA project at the Etas site. Roads are daily littered all the way to the dump site. The result of the election for the mayoral post should be known today. If, as the PM wants, Eric Festa becomes the new mayor, town hall management is likely to be tightened up considerably. Certainly tough management is long overdue. Citizens might, however, be forgiven for asking why the Town Clerk has seen fit to makesenior appointments on Monday this week in advance of a new mayor taking office. Daily Post reports a new Human Resource Coordinator, Building Permit Officer and assistant Cashier, all on Monday.

Meanwhile, Daily Post also reports the courts having to seize half of the area of Dumbea Hall because the municipality had not complied with all the requirements of a civil warrant, No 64 of 2009. The order followed a failed deal to locate a new municipal cemetry at Rentabau in 2006. The municipality has to compensate developers to the tune of VT 30 million but has so far paid out only VT 12 million says the Town Clerk to Daily Post.

Post also reports West Papua National Coalition for Liberation -WPNCL praising Vanuatu’s PM and DPM for staying out of the official delegation to Indonesia by the MSG, originally intended to enable contact between leaders of the freedom movements and the MSG. The MSG tour spent only 12 hours in West Papua on their four-day tour which Indonesia seems more concerned to be using as a trade mission visit. Which brings one back to the conclusion that the MSG is seen to be primarily a trade body by its largest and wealthiest members, rather than the political regional heavyweight foreseen by its Melanesian founders – especially those from Vanuatu.

Trade will be seriously considered in a public seminar tomorrow by UN consultant Daniel Gay who actually worked for the Vanuatu Trade Department from 2002 to 2004. Presently the received wisdom is that the same development policies work more or less everywhere. This is the prescription known as the Washington Consensus. Gay, however, maintains economic analysis and policy recommendations should vary strongly according to country context. He looks at this from a Vanuatu viewpoint (from 9 – 11 am in the Meteorology conference room, first floor, tomorrow Thursday).

Also in trade related matters, Fr Beru, the premier of the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands has spoken out against the central Solomons government for not assisting his province to trade with Vanuatu. The first phase of a proposed trade relationship between Temotu and Vanuatu was signed in Port Vila early last year. The eastern Solomons (Santa Cruz) islands have for generations looked southwards to Vanuatu for further development from the times when the basic wage in this country was much higher than in Solo.

Eight cases of dengue fever have caused the Health Ministry to record an outbreak, reports Daily Post, which simply means more than usual. For Port Vila the normal is generally close to zero.

NEW ZEALAND:

4) Dollar at 8-year high against Australian

Updated at 4:05 pm today 16/1/14.

The New Zealand dollar has surged to its highest level in more than eight years against its Australian counerpart after weaker than expected Australian jobs figures.

The Kiwi traded as high as 94.52 Australian cents on Thursday, up nearly 1c from just before figures were released showing that Australian jobs unexpectedly fell in December last year.

Australia’s jobless rate remains at 5.8% – but only because its participation rate fell to a near eight-year low.Radio new zealand

WORLD:

5) Eruption causes 26,000 to flee

News.Com.Au
Thursday, January 16, 2014

INDONESIA’S Mount Sinabung has erupted about 30 times, spewing lava and ash clouds over a wide area, officials said, with about 26,000 people now forced to flee their homes.

Mt Sinabung, which lies in the northwest of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, sent hot rocks and ash 5 kilometres into the air, spreading hot clouds over a 4.5 kilometres radius, said the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.

Enormous clouds rose from the mountain, as thick layers of grey ash blanketed plantations and nearby houses.

With the volcano erupting regularly, many of those who have left their homes since Mt Sinabung started erupting in September have fallen ill, a local government official said.

“Some refugees are sick, coughing mainly, and they are also in need of clean water,” said Robert Peranginangin, a spokesman for Karo district.

Volcanoes are a regular threat for many living near their fertile slopes in Indonesia. Mt Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia that straddle major tectonic fault lines, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It had been quiet for around 400 years until it rumbled back to life in 2010, and again in September last year.

6) Egypt votes on constitution

Afp
Thursday, January 16, 2014

CAIRO – Egyptians have been voting on a new constitution amid tight security, in a referendum likely to launch a presidential bid by the army chief who overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Polling at most stations got off to a smooth start, but five people were killed in clashes between Mr Morsi supporters and police and anti-Morsi groups in central and southern Egypt, security officials said.

The violence highlighted the government’s precarious grip on the most populous country, still reeling from Mr Morsi’s ouster and a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

An Islamist coalition led by the former president’s Muslim Brotherhood had urged protests and a boycott during the two-day vote.

A small bomb exploded without causing injuries outside a Cairo court shortly before polls opened in the morning, as hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police deployed to guard polling stations.

The interior ministry had pledged to confront attempts to disrupt voting.

HEALTH:

7) Pacific women smoking at rates as high as men

By Online Editor
09:10 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Australia

One of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted has shown that women in Pacific nations are smoking in very high numbers with rates as high as men.

The study has tracked changes in 187 countries for more than 30 years and shows countries in the Pacific and Asia have some of the worst smoking rates in the world.

It is being published in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association and shows that Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Kiribati have extremely high rates of smoking.

One of the study’s authors, Dr Alan Lopez from Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, has told Pacific Beat that the health toll of smoking in the Pacific and Asia is significant and it will escalate in the next 10 or 20 years as current smokers start to die prematurely.

He says that in countries like Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati, the smoking rates for men are above 50 per cent and they are very high for females as well.

“That is unusual. What we tend to see in the developing countries in the region here, say in Asia, is comparatively high and disturbingly high in fact, prevalence for males, around 40 to 50 per cent but much lower prevalence for females,” Dr Lopez said.

“We don’t tend to see that in the Pacific where women are smoking almost as much as men.”

He says the male/female differential is well-established and in countries like Australia in the first half of the 20th century, it was much more common for men to smoke presumably because of social norms.

“What we are seeing in many of the developing countries of the region is that that social taboo about female smoking in most countries, more or less, has not been lifted and is still there,” Dr Lopez said.

“So you have only two or three per cent of women smoking in Indonesia, for example, whereas you have 55 per cent of men smoking.

“Now in the Pacific, that social taboo does not seem to be nearly as strong.”

One of the major findings of the survey is that there has not been significant reduction in smoking in any country in the Pacific or Asia.

“(It) is absolutely alarming (that) in countries like Australia, United States, United Kingdom, much of Europe, particularly northern Europe, we have seen fabulous commitment, bold commitment to tobacco control (and) bold public policy by governments, persistent in the face of severe attacks by the tobacco industry,” Dr Lopez said.

“We don’t see that, near as much in countries in Asia, although to their credit, countries like China are now beginning to show the benefits of persistent tobacco control programs, particularly for males.”

Dr Lopez says there are a number of established public policy methods to reduce smoking such as raising the price by increasing taxes on tobacco.

“Raising the price will restrict access greatly. It will lead to a massive drop in consumption and it has done so in virtually every country where it has been tried,” he said.

“But that is not all. You can ban advertising and promotion so you don’t see the Marlboro Man the moment you get off the plane in Jakarta, on a billboard somewhere. You can ban advertising in television and in newspapers.

“Any form of public promotion of a substance that will kill one in two of its regular users has got to be good public health practice and countries around the region ought to be adopting it rigorously.”.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

EDUCATION:

8) USP to focus on technical, vocational education

Samuel Berenyi
Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE University of the South Pacific is offering hands-on Technical, Vocational Education Training (TVET), considered to be a key in a country’s advancement in development.

A statement from USP yesterday reported a key benefit of the program was that it would provide training for skilled manpower, leading to Fiji’s technological advancement and help ensure sustainability.

It reported that under the strategic plan, the TVET programs offered at USP would provide pathways to higher studies.

“Those programs which articulate into higher studies will also be internationally accredited,” according to the statement.

It said the programs were specially designed for students to build on their skills and professional competence to ensure better results in the workplace.http://www.fijitimes.com/

9) Tuvalu government request for teachers from Fiji

By Online Editor
09:03 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Fiji

The Tuvalu Government has submitted a request to the Fijian Government under the Fiji Volunteer Scheme (FVS) for the engagement of nine retired school teachers to teach Maths and English at primary school level.

This request was raised after a series of meetings between the Permanent Secretary Public Service Commission, Parmesh Chand with the Ministry of Education Officials from Tuvalu and with the High Commissioner, Lutelu Favae and on receipt of endorsement from the Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Chand said the request is also to process the logistics of identifying teachers prior to signing the Memorandum of Agreement two weeks’ time.

“The priority area of need identified by the Government of Tuvalu’s Ministry of Education is in the primary education. Teachers will be engaged to teach literacy and numeracy at that level,” Chand said.

He said the FVS has since advertised in the newspapers and radio seeking retired school teachers for this programme.

Retired school teachers who are willing to indicate their interest must first register their details with the National Employment Centre (NEC).

SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

POLITIC:

10) NEC approves accreditation for PNG Ambassador to EU

By Online Editor
11:59 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s National Executive Council has approved the concurrent accreditation of the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union Joshua Kalinoe.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet endorsed  Kalinoe’s accreditation to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union member states comprising France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

O’Neill said European Union was a major player in the global arena as well as an important development partner for Papua New Guinea in terms of trade and investment and was the second largest aid donor to PNG, behind Australia.

“Mr Kalinoe’s concurrent bilateral accreditation will further strengthen our economic and cultural relations with these countries and the European Union in general,” he said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

11/12)Fiji’s CCF queries constitution’s application

Updated at 4:27 pm today 16/1/14

The Chief Executive of Fiji’s NGO, the Citizens Constitutional Forum, says the country’s constitutional process is still flawed, despite the appointment of a new seven-member election commission.

The Reverend Akuila Yabaki says his Forum has worked with many of the election commission’s new members and they now hold an important position in protecting the integrity of the upcoming elections.

But he says the Forum still does not have the confidence that the elections promised for September will be free and fair.

“I’ve already referred to the flawed constitution. The Prime Minister chairs the Constitutional Offices Commission and the composition of that commission has the leader of the opposition in it, but how can you have a leader of the opposition when there’s no parliament? So, you can run rings around that.”

However, the Reverend Yabaki says he is encouraged by the commissioners’ appointments, calling it a good chance for the electoral process to gain some integrity.radio new zealand.

13) Fiji Electoral Commission Chair speaks out

By Online Editor
09:19 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Fiji

The chairman of Fiji’s Electoral Commission, Chen Bunn Young has spoken to the media for the first time since his appointment.

The seven-member Commission will supervise the general elections and ensure Fiji’s return to democracy this year.

Following the Commission’s appointment last week, it now has to start planning for Fiji‘s first general elections in eight years.

“We hope to meet either tomorrow (Wed) or Thursday. It will be our first meeting and I think all of us will be on a learning curve.”

The Commission’s responsibility is enormous and with elections to be held by September the group has many challenges to overcome in a short time.

Young says the decision to accept the position has not been an easy one.

“Well I guess I could tell you now the Attorney General approached me last year sometimes in August/ September so I have had some time to think about it and obviously I don’t have any illusions of the responsibility that came with the appointment if I were to accept it.”

Other members of the commission includes professor Vijay Naidu, Tourism operator James Sowane, media specialist Larry Thomas, accountant Jenny Seeto, civil society leader Alisi Daurewa and Father Arms.

The commission will now direct the elections office and the supervisor of elections who is yet to be announced.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

14) New speaker for Tuvalu in the new year?

By Online Editor
12:08 pm GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Tuvalu

Expect a new speaker for Tuvalu’s parliament if government has its way in the coming by-election.

Tuvalu went to the poll on Tuesday to fill the Namuga seat left vacant by the sick former education, youth and sport minister Dr Falesa Pitoi.

Dr Pitoi was away in Cuba on official duties as then Minister for Education in December 2012, when he was taken ill and flown to various locations for medical treatment. He has not returned to Tuvalu since then.

Governor-General Sir Italeli Iakoba had to use his powers again to call for a by-election for the island of Nanumaga. This after he consulted a team of medical officials to look into the year-long absence of Dr Pitoi.

Secretary to Government Panapasi Nelesone told ISLANDS BUSINESS that preparations have begun for the by-election after the decision was handed down by the Governor-General.

He said the date for the polls would be January 14. “On the 28th of December the final list of candidates will be compiled and objections will be received and assessed by the returning officer,” he said. “Barring any obstacles, we should be heading for a January 14 polling date.”

Enele Sopoaga’s government is hoping to win the by-election, so that it can have the two-thirds majority required under its constitution to move a motion to remove Speaker Sir Kamuta Latasi.

Government has been unhappy with the Speaker particularly his handling of parliamentary business.

Latasi had refused to entertain a vote of no confidence against then Prime Minister Willie Telavi last year after then Opposition Leader Sopoaga gained a majority in parliament…..

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

MEDIA:

15) PNG Media faces gag threat

By Online Editor
09:08 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea media has been urged by a judge to exercise restraint when reporting on the controversial sidelining of four policemen by Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga.

Senior Supreme and National Court judge, Justice Catherine Davani, said the matter was politically-sensitive and should be allowed to be dealt with properly by the courts.

She made the comments after lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr, representing Prime Minster Peter O’Neill and Treasurer Don Polye, made an application in the National Court that there should be a statement by the court to refrain the media from reporting on the matter until after the hearing.

Nonggorr made the application after informing the court that her client and other respondents had not been served the court documents but the newspaper (Post-Courier) had it on the front page, which was inappropriate.

The court documents relate to an urgent application, which lawyers representing Opposition Leader Belden Namah filed on Monday afternoon, to stop the suspension of four policemen allegedly behind the issuing of warrants for the arrest of the Prime Minister, Polye and Finance Minister James Marape.

“Although I am not in favour of a media gag, it may be the case that there should be a statement that the media should cease on reporting the matter and the public should cease discussing this matter until we come back before the court, given that it should be tried in court and not in the media, although it worked on our benefit today because we got notice of the proceedings today in the newspaper, although it was inappropriate,” Nonggorr said in her submission.

“I submit not necessarily an order but a statement that the media should not report given the gravity of this matter until after the court proceedings.”

Lawyer Alois Jerewai, representing the Opposition Leader, opposed the application and submitted that coverage of the proceedings was in the public interest and the media should not be gagged.

“It is equally important your Honour, that the little man on the street is given the correct facts as in the order of what is transpiring in court, to that extent I would urge very seriously to that extent that they should not be gagged, media should not be gagged. That is part of the democratic existence that we have as per our Constitution,” Jerewai said.

However, Justice Davani cautioned reporters to restrain themselves from reporting matters, which sometimes can be very inflammatory.

“We don’t want to be encountering a situation similar to that encountered last year and only fueled because of what’s reported in the newspapers and in the media,” Justice Davani said.

“So the media should really restrain themselves until such time that everything is finalised”.

She said due to the political sensitivity surrounding the matter the media should refrain from reporting on it until after the proceedings is complete – “because our little man on the street doesn’t understand what’s going on, he’ll take on face value what is in the newspapers” – but stopped short of giving orders to that effect.

“But let me just say this in support of  Nonggorr that the media should refrain from reporting what  is before the court because that is in fact proper practice when a matter is before the courts it is subjudice and it should stay that way,” Justice Davani said.

“It’s not an order, I am making a comment from the bench but it may reach a stage that I may have to issue orders.”

The matter was adjourned to next Monday to give time to the respondents’ lawyers to be served the notice and also to sort out their practicing licenses.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

16) “Unacceptable” increase in journalist visa fee to 8,000 dollars: Reporters Without Borders

By Online Editor
12:04 pm GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Nauru

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the decision by the Micronesian island nation of Nauru, which hosts an Australian government detention centre for asylum-seekers, to increase the cost of a journalist visa from $200 to $8,000– an increase of nearly 4,000 per cent.

“The new price of a visa is out of all proportion and is nothing less than ban on foreign media visits to this island state,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“This measure can have only one aim, to dissuade journalists from applying, because the 8,000 dollars will not be reimbursed if the visa is refused. What media is going to risk such a sum? It is clear that the Australian government’s refugee detention centre is behind this decision.

“As with the detention centre on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, the Australian government is trying to censor any embarrassing information about the way it treats refugees. In the process of externalizing the asylum-seeker issue, it is even managing to delegate responsibility for censorship and discriminatory measures against the media.

“We call on the authorities to rescind this measure outright, because it violates the constitution of Nauru and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nauru has signed.”

Approved by Nauru’s parliament and due to take effect within days, the measure provides for no reimbursement of the 8,000 dollars if the visa application is rejected. An official said the hike was “for revenue purposes.”

The Sydney-based Global Mail online newspaper quoted a visa official as saying that only “three or four” media visas were granted in 2013 but that there was a big increase in media visas issued for a couple of months after Australia reintroduced offshore processing for asylum seekers in September 2012.

In November 2013, the UN Refugee Agency said the 700 asylum-seekers held at the Nauru detention centre were subjected to “harsh physical conditions” that “do not meet international standards.” Many human rights organizations have also criticized conditions at the centre.

Reporters Without Borders added: “This measure is a clear violation of the principle of freedom of information as enshrined in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and elsewhere.”

In its General Comment No. 44, the UN Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for interpreting the Covenant, said: “Limited accreditation schemes are permissible only where necessary to provide journalists with privileged access to certain places and/or events. Such schemes should be applied in a manner that is non-discriminatory and compatible with article 19 and other provisions of the Covenant, based on objective criteria and taking into account that journalism is a function shared by a wide range of actors.”

The committee also said: “It is normally incompatible with paragraph 3 to restrict the freedom of journalists and others who seek to exercise their freedom of expression (such as persons who wish to travel to human rights-related meetings) to travel outside the State party, to restrict the entry into the State party of foreign journalists to those from specified countries or to restrict freedom of movement of journalists and human rights investigators within the State party (including to conflict-affected locations, the sites of natural disasters and locations where there are allegations of human rights abuses).”

Reporters Without Borders already criticized the Australian government’s policy of denying journalists access to its detention centres in 2011 and 2012. In the case of Nauru, the Australian government nonetheless continues to put its head in the sand and insist that it is an internal matter for the island’s government.

There was a violent riot at the Nauru detention centre after the Australian government announced that it was adopting tougher migration policies last July.

SOURCE: REUTERS/PACNEWS

BUSINESS:

17) Milne Bay islets for sale

Source:
The National, Thursday January 16th, 2014

RICH businessmen from around the world will be targeted in the sales campaign of the Conflict Islands in Milne Bay.
As indicated by London-based entrepreneur Ian Gowrie-Smith, the islands were valued at US$25 million (K60.5 million) when he bought them in 2003.
Gowrie-Smith told the Financial Review that he was open to offers and ideas.
He said the Conflict Islands were the only known freehold islands available in Papua New Guinea.
He has developed a resort on the third-largest island, Panasesa, which has a 650m runway – which he said could accommodate most private jets, after a leisurely four-hour flight from Sydney.
The largest island, Irai, has 7,000m of beachfront land and capacity for a 3,000m jet runway.
Gowrie-Smith said he was just as interested in what buyers intended for the atoll as the prices they were willing to pay.
It is anticipated that if the right joint-venture partner puts a hand up, he would enjoy exploring conservation opportunities.
Ideally, he hopes to find like-minded investors keen to preserve its diverse ecology while opening up tourism opportunities.
The 21 pristine islands are located south east of the country at the top of the Coral Sea or at the lower end of the D’Entrecasteaux Straits.
The Conflict Islands were named after their 1886 discovery by naval survey ship The Conflict.
Gowrie-Smith had built a solid rapport with the local government and a proposal was before government for a special economic zone for the broader Milne Bay, which would include tax incentives to encourage investment.
The islands can be owned by non-PNG citizens through company structures and the 21 islands are divided into nine PNG companies.
Owning an island is a popular asset for rich people, either as a private getaway or as a tourism investment.
They are world renowned for diving and fishing and are one of the world’s most beautiful and unspoiled locations – only four hours from Syd-ney. – Australian Financial Review

18) B’ville helps NDB set up local branch

Source:
The National, Wednesday January 15th, 2014

By SHIRLEY MAULUDU
THE Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) government has chipped in K3 million to assist the National Development Bank (NDB) to open  a branch in Bougainville, lending division executive manager Trevor Cain said.
He said AROB government had recognised that security for loans was an issue following the Bougainville crisis.
He said AROB had offered K3 million as seed capital for initial security deposit.
“This equity will be provided to NDB to secure loans for customers who do not have other forms of insurable security.”
Cain said NDB was finalising a branch plan in Bougainville.
He said the bank (NDB) was also organising an official opening once everything was ready and the AROB government president was available.
NDB was using an office in the building owned by trade and industry.
NDB said the renovation of the said office continued, with the branch office almost complete.
Meanwhile, Cain said NDB had decided to open a branch in Bougainville after a growing public demand for banking services.
“We received many requests to begin operations in Bougainville and in May 2013, the management spent a week in Buka checking out locations including Arawa,” he said.

19) Israeli company to develop agriculture in PNG

By Online Editor
08:59 am GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

The National Executive Council (NEC) has recently approved a joint venture partnership with an Israel group to develop the agro-industry in Papua New Guinea.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet agreed to enter into a strategic partnership with the LR Group of Israel under a joint venture.

O’Neill said under the joint venture agreement the PNG Government and the LR Group were  to immediately develop a dairy farm and production project at the Ilimo Farm in the Central Province and an agro-industry project in the Morobe Province.

“Cabinet also endorsed the inclusion of these two strategic projects in the Government’s Public Investment Program (PIP) for 2014-2017,’’ he said.

“It appointed and directed the State Project Team under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to Government with representatives of the Department of Prime Minister and NEC, Treasury, National Planning, Attorney-General, Health, Agriculture and Livestock, the Central and Morobe provincial governments (in relation to the projects in their respective provinces) to oversee, negotiate and facilitate the development and implementation of the two projects,” he said.

O’Neill said Cabinet directed the Chief Secretary and the Central Agencies Co-ordinating Committee to provide oversight, take all actions required to facilitate approvals and support necessary from all relevant government agencies to implement the Cabinet decision relating to the two strategic projects. “Agriculture is where we can make a real difference to the lives of the majority of our people. Past governments have shared this view. But despite many policy statements, agriculture development plans and funding commitments towards the agriculture sector, we have not seen any change or improvement in the sector,” he said.

“Israel is a global leader in agriculture innovation and food security, and the LR Group is at the forefront of that country’s advancement in this sector.

“I’m confident this partnership will unlock PNG’s real potential in agriculture, and grow a sector of the economy that will provide opportunities for our people beyond what other sectors promise.”

The Prime Minister said the National Government would establish close consultations with both provincial governments to develop these two initiatives.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

20) PNG growth imbalance

By Online Editor
2:23 pm GMT+12, 15/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

The low growth in the non-mining sector in Papua New Guinea this year hints a very low growth rate in the other sectors of the economy, worsened by low commodity prices and the occurrence of farming diseases, economist Paul Barker said.

The projected 6.2% growth this year would mainly come from the expected gas export he said.

“The impact on agriculture and much of manufacturing and tourism will only be positive if the negative impacts (of Dutch disease) are restrained, through the stabilisation of the currency.

“PNG has a long backlog of development investment and restoration programmes to let the benefits of crude GDP growth to have a broad-based impact on the economy and its population.

“Many risks are faced in the process to avoid a skewed economic impact (benefiting a narrow portion of the population, at the expense of the rest).”

Barker predicted PNG will face a very challenging year, although partly of its own making.

He said: “External factors, which may restrain growth, will include further disruption in the global economy, perhaps related to renewed debt problems in the euro zone, further slowdown in the East Asian economies, notably China and other countries, notably India which would stall before and perhaps after their election.

For this year, the government has forecast a continued strong growth of 6.2%, but with only a small increase in the non-mining sector of 1.6%.

However, Barker said: “The 6.2% is based substantially upon LNG production and exports starting in the second-half of the year and starting to boost the GDP growth, which could jump next year.

“The start of gas production and processing into liquefied gas for export will boost exports and start reducing the PNG’s negative balance of trade and current account deficit, which should go back into positive in 2015 as LNG exports increase, especially if other commodity prices have also risen again by then.

“Disruption and conflict in the Middle East, North Africa and even east Asia would all be disruptive, although conversely in some cases may push some commodity prices up, from which there are invariably winners and losers.

“Domestic problems will relate to the capacity to target public expenditure and keep inflation in check, utilise the budget, including large deficit (borrowing) effectively to encourage economic activity and opportunity, including amongst rural farmers to produce exports crops and for the domestic market.

“Creating investment uncertainty of divestment of overseas ownership of various businesses, or further restrictions on transfers or enforced ownership transfers, including nationalisation of businesses, would all undermine the readiness for foreign direct investment (FDI) and in some cases, domestic investors, to invest capital particularly in longer term or riskier business ventures in PNG, including business commitment to needed longer term human resource development.

Separately, Barker stressed that failure to address law and order problems, major projects and disruptions to the country’s infrastructure would undermine the country’s economic growth.
Despite that, he said: “2014 should be a good year for PNG.

“There are some sound policy commitments such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the extractive industries’ transparency initiatives (EITI).

Barker, however cautioned that there remained limited public sector capacity (which will be the major future beneficiaries from LNG revenue within PNG) and very poor public sector accountability (comprising transparency, governance, oversight and enforcement of rules or penalties in the case of abuse)”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER:

21) ‘Anti-drugs body useless’

Source:
The National, Thursday January 16th, 2014

THE country is incapable of dealing effectively with its escalating drugs and substance abuse problems, a narcotic expert says.
Former executive director of the PNG National Narcotics Bureau Felix Handa’an Oltomo said the government lacked a national drug control strategy to coordinate its efforts and resources. He said the absence of a national drug legislation meant that the country was unable to address the developing trends of drug trafficking and associated trans-national crimes.
This included monitoring the consignments of manufactured drugs for medicinal purposes coming into the country. He said the PNG National Narcotics Bureau was a “total fiasco”. “Since early 2000, this agency had gobbled up millions of kina in taxpayers funds with nothing to show for,” he said. He said a rapid situation assessment report of drug abuse published in 1998 by an international consultant was the only tangible achievement of the bureau.
He said the report showed that drug abuse and trafficking were major problems in the country. It made 21 recommendations including the need for a comprehensive national drug strategy, a new master plan to be drawn up and the updating of existing drug legislation.
“Unfortunately, there has been no follow-up action on the recommendations. That was primarily due to a seemingly unending battle for the top post of the agency,” he said.
The late Fr William Liebert was the last appointed director-general of the Bureau in 1999.

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

22) Pleas for action

Radio Australia
Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE president of the Marshall Islands has pleaded with world leaders to take serious action on climate change this year.

President Christopher Loeak says countries shouldn’t be waiting until the UN conference on climate change in Paris in late 2015 to agree on more concrete measures.

“It is time for us all to live up to our own lofty rhetoric, and actually do what is necessary to slow and eventually reverse the pollution of our atmosphere, in turn curbing global warming and the rising seas that threaten to engulf my homeland,” Mr Loeak said in an opinion piece on The Huffington Post website.

Mr Loeak says leaders must recognise that time is running out.

“The fight against climate change is unfortunately suffering from a misplaced hope that we still have plenty of time to act, or that the proverbial silver bullet is just around the corner,” he said.

Mr Loeak also took aim at countries like Australia for winding back climate change policy.

23) Forecaster says cyclone for NZ possible

Updated at 3:06 pm today 16/1/14

Meteorologists are monitoring weather conditions near the Solomon Islands they say could lead to a tropical cyclone forming and hitting New Zealand’s North Island next week.

The MetService says more will be known by Friday about the possibility.

Spokesperson Daniel Corbett says there is no guarantee of a cyclone, but a potential low developing in the warm waters of the tropics could become one and drift into the northern Tasman Sea sometime over the weekend or early next week.

Mr Corbett says even if a cyclone reaches New Zealand, it could just bring heavy rain – but forecasters are days away from knowing how severe the weather might be.radio new zealand.

SPORTS:

24) Wales picks squad

Afp
Thursday, January 16, 2014

LONDON – Defending champions Wales have named an experienced squad for the 2014 Six Nations Championships in their quest to win an unprecedented third straight title.

No team has ever completed a hat-trick of Championships in the tournament’s various guises, not even the celebrated Wales team of the 1970s.

There were few surprises in the 32-man squad featuring no uncapped players unveiled by coach Warren Gatland.

The New Zealander, who coached the British and Irish Lions to a series victory in Australia last year, retained flanker Sam Warburton — also the Lions skipper — as Wales captain.

However, back-row forward Warburton has not played since suffering a shoulder injury during Wales’s 30-26 defeat by Australia at the Millennium Stadium in November and Cardiff Blues coach Phil Davies reckons the flanker is still a fortnight away from full fitness.

That doesn’t leave Warburton with much time to regain match sharpness ahead of Wales’ Six Nations opener against Italy in Cardiff on February 1.

Warburton’s fellow Blues forward Gethin Jenkins went off injured during last Saturday’s European Cup defeat by Toulon.

In the backs, centre Jonathan Davies was included even though he is set to miss the first three games of the Six Nations with the pectoral injury he sustained in Wales’s loss to South Africa in November.

Also selected was fellow Lions centre Jamie Roberts, who missed Wales’ entire end-of-year series but nevertheless is on course to return from an ankle injury for French club Racing Metro this weekend.

Wales 32-man squad for the 2014 Six Nations Championship announced on Tuesday:

Backs:

Liam Williams (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); George North (Northampton/ENG), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro/FRA), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets); James Hook (Perpignan/FRA), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys); Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro/FRA), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets)

Forwards:

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro/FRA), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys); Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan/FRA), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys); Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Bath/ENG)

25)Lazio through to the quarters

Afp
Thursday, January 16, 2014

ROME – A double by Colombian Brayan Perea handed holders Lazio a place in the Italian Cup quarter-finals yesterday as they beat fellow Serie A side Parma 2-1 in Rome.

Perea, 20, grabbed the winner in stoppage time for a virtually second-string Lazio side.

He had opened the score only for Frenchman Jonathan Biabiany to equalise for the visitors.

Lazio, who have won the trophy five times in the past 16 seasons, will play Napoli or Atalanta — who play last night — in the last eight.

Also on Wednesday, Mauro Tassotti will take charge of AC Milan’s game against second-division La Spezia, although not even victory will boost his chances of having the job on a permanent basis.

Former Dutch international midfielder Clarence Seedorf announced earlier on Tuesday he had been hired as the replacement for Massimiliano Allegri, who was fired on Tuesday.

26) BERIEFLY

Afp/Ap/Dpa
Thursday, January 16, 2014

+++Target

DUSSELDORF – Germany has set a target of 30 medals in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. “The preparation shows good and bad. But overall we are on the right path,” said Michael Vesper, general director of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) on Tuesday.

Hard work

MADRID – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s work ethic after the Portuguese collected the second Ballon d’Or of his career. Ronaldo beat off stiff competition from four-time winner Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to claim football’s highest individual accolade in Zurich on Monday.

Sponsorship

ZURICH – FIFA says Visa has extended its World Cup sponsorship deal through the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. The value of the deal was not disclosed. FIFA President Sepp Blatter says “we are delighted to have such a strong global brand by our side until at least 2022”.

Nasri injury

PARIS – Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa says there was no intention to harm Samir Nasri when he hacked down the Manchester City midfielder in the English Premier League on Monday. Nasri will be out for eight weeks after partially rupturing ligaments in his knee in the second half of City’s 2-0 win.

Holt loaned

LONDON – Wigan Athletic striker Grant Holt has been loaned to Aston Villa until the end of the season, the Premier League club has announced. Holt, 32, joined second-tier Wigan from Norwich City for a reported fee of STG2 million ($A3.6 million) in July, but has scored only two goals in his 21 appearances to date.

New coach

RIO DE JANEIRO – Dutch veteran Clarence Seedorf has confirmed he is taking over as coach of AC Milan, replacing Massimiliano Allegri. The seven-time European champions sacked Allegri after a shock weekend loss to Sassuolo and have turned to Seedorf, twice a Champions League winner with the club as a player.

Transfer

LONDON – Stoke City has announced that Stephen Ireland’s loan move from Premier League rivals Aston Villa has been turned into a permanent transfer. The 27-year-old Irish midfielder joined Stoke last September in a move that saw him reunited with Mark Hughes, his former manager at Manchester City.

Rally hope

IQUIQUE, Chile – French rally great Stephane Peterhansel boosted his hopes of a hat-trick of Dakar Rally wins as he won Tuesday’s ninth stage of the race in South America. Peterhansel guided his Mini home fastest on the 459km leg – 422km timed – from Calama to Iquique in Chile.

Barkley out

LIVERPOOL, England – Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has fractured a toe on his left foot and could be sidelined for up to six weeks. The 20-year-old Barkley, whose impressive form this season could earn him a place in England’s World Cup squad, was hurt in Everton’s 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup on January 4.

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