Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 972


1) Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • Much news and opinion in the coming week will most likely revolve around the first rent review for Port Vila leases since Independence and the forty cancelled leases of state land issued to Lands staff members during the ministry of Steven Kalsakau about which there is to be an Ombudsman’s report.
  • Lands Minister Regenvanu yesterday spoke to the press on how Government is losing VT 200 million each year on Port Vila state property because most rent payments are less than one percent of the value of that land. This compares very unfavourably with Fiji’s 2.5% to 6%. “A recent study by the former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Odo Tevi, has shown that, compared to GDP, the governments of Vanuatu and Tonga are collecting the lowest revenue as a percentage of their respective GDPs” in the region, Regenvanu said. Vanuatu only collects around 23% of its GDP in revenue from land rent: Tuvalu collects 80%. Lessees in Port Vila will soon receive notice of their new rate assessments. Luganville and rural leases will take some time longer.
  • The Department of Lands under Minister Regenvanu has cancelled some 33 leases to staff members and their families. A further 14 leases were refused registration and another 40 lease titles to unregistered land were removed from the departmental data base. The Public Service Commission has begun proceedings to have the issuance of these leases investigated by the Ombudsman. As well as former Minister Kalsakau, some six senior staff of Lands were involved in this mis-appropriation of lands belonging to the Republic of Vanuatu.
  • Radio Vanuatu News this morning has Prime Minister Carcasses saying there is a need for the different political parties to discuss, and work together for political stability. “For the good of the nation.” He was answering the presidential address to Parliament Monday morning.
  • VBTC also carried government figures for March income and expenditure seeming to indicate improved state revenue collection. This comes in advance of parliamentary debate of supplementary budget provisions already for this year. Parliamentary broadcasts of debate resume this afternoon. It is not known why there has been such a long break since the official opening Monday morning.
  • CIIP Chairperson lawyer Bill Bani has been removed from the post by Prime Minister Carcasses and temporarily replaced by Internal Affairs DG George Bogiri because of the way in which “the task force has been promoting the progamme.”
  • Bani is alleged to have not only raised expectations of more money to be raised than could be expected through the plan, but also to have “practically decided where and how the money should be spent.” Whilst Bani is a private lawyer by trade, he is presumably subject to the Leadership Code in his work for the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission. Daily Post carries the report which PM Carcasses posted in the social media.
  • The trial for murder of the boyfriend of the Montmartre secondary school student
  • starts this morning. And Daily Post carries a further report and post script on thesojourn of Phocea in Port Vila until a year ago.
  • Kirk Huffman has reasonably challenged the cruise ship companies in relation to the requested hydrographic survey of Pangi, South Pentecost, whether they seriously imagine the Saut de Gaul or Pentecost land dive can proceed year-round.


2) Former Tongan Speaker of Parliament Lord Fusitu’a dies

By Online Editor
4:09 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Tonga

Tonga’s former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly has died.

Lord Fusitu’a (87), the Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou Nobles’ Representative to the Tongan parliament passed away in Nuku’alofa on Thursday, 24 April.

A government spokesperson said that Lord Fusitu’a’s funeral service has been set for Saturday, 3 May.

Fusitu’a was the oldest of Tonga’s 33 Nobles of the Realm, and his estates are Faletanu and Ma‘ofanga in Niuafo‘ou.

He is survived by his wife, Lady Fusitu‘a and two children, Mata‘i‘ulua ‘I Fonuamotu Fusitu‘a and Finelasi Fuafolau Fusitu‘a.


3) Newly elected Niue MP challenged


A Niue MP who won an assembly seat this month after straws were drawn following a tied vote is being challenged.

Dion Taufitu of the village of Toi faces a petition for an inquiry from Mokaelalini Vaha.

Ms Vaha claims four voters unlawfullly took part in the village election.

She claims two voters who were on the roll flew in from New Zealand to cast a vote and two others living on Niue did not meet the residency qualifications to vote in the constitutency.

The hearing is before Chief Justice Patrick Savage of the Maori Land Court on May 7th.

Last week, Toke Talagi was re-elected as premier after securing a 12 to eight majority in the assembly.Radio NZ


4) NZ confident Nauru is mending its reputation


New Zealand has thrown its support behind the Nauru government since it pledged to improve its international reputation on respecting separation of powers.

Earlier this year Nauru deported its resident magistrate and cancelled the visa of its chief justice, and accused them of cronyism.

The chief justice, Peter Eames QC, criticised the state of transparency and called it an abuse of power.

A media adviser to a former government was also deported, after the justice minister passed special legislation.

Since government officials met with the New Zealand foreign ministry in New Zealand, Mr McCully says he has confidence they will implement changes and says cutting New Zealand funding would be too harsh.

“The chief justice is entitled to her own views as a judicial officer, but I’ve got to take a somewhat wider political view. The justice sector support we’ve given Nauru is the only significant programme we have. Australia does pretty much everything else. It would be a big call for us to pull out completely.”

Murray McCully.Radio NZ


5) Ol PNG Pipal i planim Mangoro long daonim rising sea level

Updated 30 April 2014, 16:47 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Odio: Rebecca Samuel Marine ofisa wantem WWF- PNG itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Ol pipal blong Madang lagoon long Papua New Guinea nau iwok long lukautim ol liklik mangoro em bai oli planim long ol nambis blong ol.

As tingting blong despla progrem blong ol em blong stopim ol solwara i bagarapim ol nambis blong ol.

Laen blong World Wide Fund for Nature Australia i helpim despla progrem na bai oli stat long planti ol despla liklik mangoro long mun July long despla yia.

Ol diwai Mangoro igat bikpla wok long stopim ol bikpla solwara i hamarim ol communiti long nambis na tu emi ples we ol fis na ol narapla animal blong solwara isave karim ol pikinini blong ol long en.

Climate Change i kamapim planti wari nau long Pacific rijan, na ol pipal long Madang i bungim tu sampla long ol despla wari we ol solwara iwok long bagarapim nau ol nambis blong ol.

Narapla samting emi save daonim oa pinisim ol mangoro em pasin we ol pipal isave katim ol diwai mangoiro blong iusim long bildim ol haus blong ol oa blong iusim olsem paiawud.

Radio Australia


6) Brèves d’Australie et du Pacifique – mercredi 30 avril 2014

Mis à jour 30 April 2014, 10:15 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

La Russie se dit « surprise » et met en avant son « bon bilan » en matière de désarmement nucléaire. Comme les 8 autres pays dotés de l’arme suprême, elle est visée par une plainte des Îles Marshall auprès de la Cour Internationale de Justice de La Haye.

Dans ce recours, déposé la semaine dernière, la République micronésienne accuse ces neuf pays de ne pas respecter leurs engagements pour le désarmement nucléaire. Mais le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères a affirmé mardi avoir réduit de 80% l’armement nucléaire stratégique – donc ayant une portée supérieure à 5500 km, et de 75% l’arsenal nucléaire tactique – d’une portée inférieure à 5500 km.

Après la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et Nauru, le Cambodge.Plus d’un millier de demandeurs d’asile reconnus comme d’authentiques réfugiés seront transférés de Nauru dans ce pays d’Asie du Sud-est. Le gouvernement cambodgien a donné son accord de principe mardi, mais il n’accueillera que les volontaires. La Commissaire aux Réfugiés de l’ONU condamne l’accord en gestation, car le Cambodge est l’un des pays les plus pauvres d’Asie. Les réfugiés auraient déjà beaucoup de mal à trouver du travail.

La Campagne pour la Libération de la Papouasie occidentale ouvre un bureau à Perth, sur la côte ouest de l’Australie. C’est Benny Wenda, l’icône du mouvement indépendantiste, en exil à Londres, qui l’a inauguré dimanche. Au même moment, des centaines de Papous se sont réunis pour célébrer l’événement à Manokwari, Timika et Merauke, trois bourgades de la Papouasie indonésienne. La Campagne pour la Libération de la Papouasie occidentale a déjà des bureaux en Grande-Bretagne, à La Haye, et en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Elles veulent de l’eau potable. Aux Îles Salomon, les victimes des inondations menacent de manifester devant le Bureau de Gestion des Catastrophes naturelles. Plusieurs centaines de Salomonais ont pu rentrer chez eux la semaine dernière, pour reprendre leur travail dans les plantations de palmiers à huile – leur employeur avait menacé de les licencier s’ils ne reprenaient pas vite le travail. Il y a encore près de 2000 réfugiés au camp du Pavillon. Le Bureau de Gestion des Catastrophes Naturelles leur a demandé de quitter le camp aujourd’hui. Mais ils ne partiront que si le Bureau leur donne des réservoirs d’eau potable, prévient leur porte-parole, Henry Bata.

Bougainville: les autorités rapatrient 20 Bougainvillais pris dans des tensions ethniques à Lae, la deuxième ville de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. Un Bougainvillais a été tué début avril au cours d’une bagarre avec des Papous fraîchement arrivés à Lae, dans les bidonvilles. Les maisons de plusieurs Bougainvillais ont aussi été détruites. Lundi 20 Bougainvillais, dont des femmes et des enfants, ont donc été évacués.

La Chine envoie des équipements de police à Fidji, pour assurer l’ordre pendant l’élection du 17 septembre prochain.Cela représente un investissement d’un demi million de dollars américains. La coopération entre les deux pays va aussi s’intensifier en matière de transport aérien, pour encourager les touristes chinois. Et la Chine augmentera ses donations pour le développement durable, la sécurité énergétique, la lutte contre le changement climatique et la conservation des espèces marines.  Radio Australia


7) Urgent Action Needed To Address Pacific NCD Crisis
Pacific Directors of Health meet in Fiji

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 30, 2014) – Pacific countries are urged to consider critical actions to the non-communicable disease (NCD) crisis which accounts for about 70 per cent of all deaths in the region.

According to stats provided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, with diabetes prevalence in many PICTs more than double the world average.

The top 10 countries in the world with the highest overweight and obesity rates are in the Pacific with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world.

The topic is one of a number of issues discussed at the second Pacific Director of Health meeting convened by the SPC and regional partners which continues today in Nadi.

Dr Paula Vivili, Deputy Director at SPC’s Public Health Division said the region is struggling to cope with the burden on individuals, families, communities, health systems, pacific economies and development.

‘Urgent action needs to be taken now. The good news is that there are proven, affordable and cost-effective strategies available.’ said Dr Vivili.

SPC, the World Bank, World Health Organisation and the Pacific Islands Forum have been working with the governments of Australia and New Zealand to develop a detailed NCD Roadmap Report on a multi-sectoral country and regional response to the NCD Crisis in the Pacific, for consideration at the joint Forum Economic and Pacific Health Ministers Meeting in July 2014.

‘Four key strategies include strengthening tobacco control, addressing and better regulating food and drink products linked to NCDs, improving efficiency by reallocating existing health resources to targeted primary and secondary prevention and treatment of heart disease and diabetes, and strengthening research and evidence for better planning,’ said Dr Vivili.

The NCD Roadmap Report identifies 32 other multi-sectoral activities that Pacific governments could choose to adopt in their response to NCDs.

These involve interventions from a range of ministries including the prime ministers’ office as well as ministries of agriculture, education, health and trade.



8) Free West Papua Campaign Opens Office In Perth
Series of events held throughout Papua to celebrate

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 30, 2014) – There have been expressions of support from Indonesia’s Papua region for the opening of a Free West Papua Campaign office in the Australian city of Perth.

The UK-based West Papuan independence activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Benny Wenda officially opened the office on Sunday.

The National Committee for West Papua, the KNPB, reports that a series of events were held around Papua region to coincide with the opening of the office.

Hundreds of West Papuans in towns such as Manokwari, Timika and Merauke reportedly celebrated the development in Perth.

The Campaign also has offices in England, the Hague, Netherlands and Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Fiji asks Australia to lead election observers

Fiji says it has asked the Australian government to head the international observer group for the September elections and Canberra has accepted.

However, according to FBC News, Australia says it will only do so if there is a co-leader of the observer mission.

At the last Fiji election eight years ago, there were observers from among others the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum.

New Zealand sent ten observers and contributed four million US dollars towards the polls.

A year ago, the regime leader, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, proposed a joint Papua New Guinea and Melanesian Spearhead Group mission to observe the elections.

At the same time he said he didn’t want a repeat of events in 2006 when the EU declared the election credible despite what he asserts were anomalies and fraud.

He removed the government later in the year in a military coup.Radio NZ

10) 1338 polling venues identified so far: Fiji Supervisor of Elections

By Online Editor
4:34 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

As of 30 March 2014, the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has identified a total of 1338 polling stations countrywide.

Of these, 365 are in the central division, 478 in the West, 321 in the North and 174 in the eastern division.

Making the announcement today, Supevisor of Elections (SOE) Mohammed Saneem said some of the venues identified are schools, some privately owned including community halls, and venues that had been used in the previous elections.

“These proposed venues will have as many polling stations as may be required to distribute voters and to maintain a maximum of 500 voters per station,” Saneem said.

As is, the FEO projects to host 1804 polling stations within these venues. The numbers is expected to increase and venues changed depending on the “growth and movement of the Fijian population” as well as concerns and/or reservations, if any, from voters on the identified venues.

Saneem says they have allowed a window for changes in view of the need to create an enabling enviroment for all voters come September 17.

“Where possible we propose to use schools. There are some privately owned and we request the owners of these premises to contact us should they require further clarification,” he said.

“Should there be a need to seek consent to the owners of these premises to use these venues, we are ready and willing to undertake that exercise to serve national interest.”

The provisional list of polling venues is the first stage for a voter to find a polling venue where she or he will vote. The FEO will use the provisional list to designate voters to the polling venue nearest to their place of residence.

“We expect to have a provisional voter list ready by the middle of May.

And that would be for voters to check if they are listed in the correct venues,” Saneem said.

In June when the FEO carries out another phase of nationwide voter registration, voters could use the opportunity to amend their details, if need be.

Meanwhile, Saneem also conveyed the FEO’s appreciation to all stakeholders who helped in the identification of polling venues particularly divisional commissioners who were engaged in the exercise.


11) NGO Hopes To Continue Civic Education Campaigns In Fiji
Transparency unsure whether Electoral Decree applies to work

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 30, 2014) – Transparency International (TI) has put in their request to the Fijian Elections Office to continue with a civic programme on transparent and accountable leaders as it awaits clarification on the interpretation of section 115 of the Electoral Decree.

Section 115 of the decree restricts any person or group receiving funding or assistance from foreign governments or from any organisation from conducting or participating in any campaigns, meetings, interviews, or any public forum discussing the elections.

TI executive director Apisalome Tudreu said the section as is “appears to cover a great deal more about what the chapter was labeled as to be about election.”

“The content of the section actually refer to training which appeared to deal with the kind of work which we are doing which is not directly about election,” he said.

In recent months the NGO has been holding civic education programme with the focus on transparent and accountable leadership the target audience being youths and the eligible voters in general.

TI has also requested the Education Ministry to continue to engage with their senior secondary school students.

“It is about developing a broader understanding about the whole purpose of this exercise which is national building beyond election and what it means for our citizens and voters in particular because they will be involved in the election activity which is really part of the whole governance equation.

“That is the sort of we need advice on and we have applied and made our request to the Election Office for these programme to be continued. It’s probably early days because we have just put in our application, but we are hopeful they will say we could continue from where left off. We’d like to continue, but we feel its important to wait for them to respond first.”

Transparency International had put in their request last week.


12) Fiji Labour Party gives first preference to 2006 MPs

By Online Editor
1:21 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

With five months left for the much-awaited general election, the Fiji Labour Party says it will give first preference to those applicants that stood in Parliament in 2006 to be considered as candidates.

This was confirmed by party assistant general secretary Kini Maraiwai in an interview Tuesday, and said with the applications for candidacy closing today, the party would hold a management meeting to decide on the candidates that would contest under the party’s banner.

“We are still finalising the details of the party candidates.

“The selection will only be considered when we have collected all the applications,” Marawai said.

He said the number of people who had applied were more than what the party had expected.

“First, we anticipated that we are going to fill the 50 seat quota. I am overwhelmed with the response that has come through.”

Party president Lavinia Padarath said FLP received applications from professionals, grassroots people, community workers, businessmen, women and youths from all sections of the society.

“FLP has announced that it intends to contest all 50 parliamentary seats and is encouraging applications from women and youth, for whom special allocations are being made within the set-up,” Padarath said.

She said the party’s campaign activities were proceeding well with pocket meetings being organised at various locations throughout the country.

“Work is well underway on finalising the FLP manifesto. FLP website is up and running.

“It forms an important arm of our election campaign as it carries candid views on current political, social and economic developments and issues of interest in the lead-up to the general election.

“For voters, it provides a comprehensive coverage of FLP policies, history and achievements to date.

“There is an extensive, well-organised archive on party statements, comments and reports on issues affecting our people dating back to 2002.”

Meanwhile, Transparency International (TI) has put in their request to the Fijian Elections Office to continue with a civic programme on transparent and accountable leaders as it awaits clarification on the interpretation of section 115 of the Electoral Decree.

Section 115 of the decree restricts any person or group receiving funding or assistance from foreign governments or from any organisation from conducting or participating in any campaigns, meetings, interviews, or any public forum discussing the elections.

TI executive director Apisalome Tudreu said the section as is “appears to cover a great deal more about what the chapter was labeled as to be about election.”

“The content of the section actually refer to training which appeared to deal with the kind of work which we are doing which is not directly about election,” he said.

In recent months the NGO has been holding civic education programme with the focus on transparent and accountable leadership the target audience being youths and the eligible voters in general.

TI has also requested the Education Ministry to continue to engage with their senior secondary school students.

“It is about developing a broader understanding about the whole purpose of this exercise which is national building beyond election and what it means for our citizens and voters in particular because they will be involved in the election activity which is really part of the whole governance equation.

“That is the sort of we need advice on and we have applied and made our request to the Election Office for these programme to be continued. It’s probably early days because we have just put in our application, but we are hopeful they will say we could continue from where left off. We’d like to continue, but we feel its important to wait for them to respond first.”

Transparency International had put in their request last week.


13) Australia welcomes discussion on Fiji’s Forum membership

By Online Editor
10:16 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

The Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brett Mason, says he welcomes further discussion with Fiji on how the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) can better serve the region.

Mason made the comments following Fiji’s decision on the weekend that it won’t renew its membership to the Pacific Islands Forum unless Australia and New Zealand quit the regional grouping.

“Every nation in the Pacific recognises that Fiji is an important country in the region and we look forward to its return to the Pacific Islands Forum,” said Senator Mason.

Fijian’s foreign minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said Fiji’s return to PIF was very unlikely.

He said Fiji had set conditions for its re-entry and if they were not met, Fiji would stay out.

One of the conditions, he said, was for New Zealand and Australia not to be members of PIF.

“The two countries are major donors to PIF and at the same time they are members,” Ratu Inoke told the Fiji Sun

PIDF was formed in 2010 after Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum.It’s an initiative by Fiji to convene a meeting of Pacific Island Countries to advance regional unity and solidarity on issues that are paramount to Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS).

Australia and New Zealand recently dropped travel sanctions on all members of Fiji’s regime and its military, which had been in place since the 2006 coup.

The decision is part of efforts to restore relations with Fiji in recognition of its progress towards democratic elections, with the country heading to the polls on 17 September .


14) Fiji eyes Emirates for sugar export market

By Online Editor
10:23 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

Fiji will export sugar to the United Arab Emirates if negotiations with stakeholders are successful.

Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said the decision to pursue new sugar markets was because of stability in market trends.

“These are markets like in the Middle East, Bangladesh and China. The issue for us at the moment is the premium we are getting at the moment from the European Union, the market prices are reasonable,” Khan said.

“The UAE’s position as a new economic player on the global stage augurs well for Fiji as a sugar-producing nation.

“There are two things that we got to look at because the industry is capital intensive a lot of costs are fixed costs.

“At the last International Sugar Organization meet held in Nadi the Prime Minister, who heads the Sugar portfolio, said we needed more engagement, more co-operation, more understanding of each other’s positions and points of view.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama is confident the ISO will deliver better outcomes for the sugar industry as a whole.

Over the past 20 years, the ISO has evolved from an almost irrelevant commodity organisation with a questionable future into the largest inter-governmental commodity organisation in the world.

The group has now 87 member countries, including, most recently, Sri Lanka, which joined us a couple of months ago.

On the ground farmers like 50-year-old Kanti Lal of Solovi in Nadi has praised government for its efforts to improve and sustain the sugar industry.

“I thank Government for introducing the CBUL programme for farmers to utilise idle land. Most farmers have capitalised on this initiative,” Lal said.

“The cane payment system has improved,”Lal said.

A carpenter by profession, he left his work to become a sugarcane farmer after witnessing the changes Government implemented to improve the sugar industry.

15) Island workers head home

By Online Editor
10:19 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, New Zealand

After four seasons working in Kaipara’s kumara crops Shem James and Masling Lapenmal have become quite accustomed to life between New Zealand and Vanuatu.

The two men flew back to Malekula Island last week with fellow ni-Vanuatu worker Senopie James who had just finished his first season.

“We really like it here, and enjoy coming back. We usually come around October/November, and stay on until April,” Lapenmal says.

He has no doubt they will be back later this year.

“When we came for the first time, it was really different. But now, after the fourth time here we know what to do and how the farm works, which makes it easy,” he says.

Lapenmal and Shem James have been working on Doug Nilsson’s Baylys Coast Rd farm.

Planting, weeding, and harvesting kumara is now second nature to them, and they enjoy being out in the open.

As keen soccer and cricket players, the men have found plenty to like about Kaipara outside of the kumara fields.

They have become regulars to indoor soccer evenings organised by the Northern Wairoa Soccer Club members on Tuesdays and outdoor training sessions on Thursdays.

A former soccer player for Vanuatu, Shem James enjoys kicking a ball around every chance he can get.

“We really enjoy playing with the other guys. This time we’ve been playing cricket too,” he says.

Lapenmal describes Malekula Island as a “jungle” with a population of about 30,000.

The three men caught an early morning flight last Wednesday.



16) PNG businesses urged to trade with other Melanesian countries

By Online Editor
1:31 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea businesses are being urged to take up trade opportunities in other Melanesian countries.

The call comes from the PNG membership of the Melanesian Indigenous Business Council established in a symposium last month in Fiji.

An affiliate of the PNG Indigenous Business Council, Hubert Namani, says it is time for the private sector to lead the way in taking advantage of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement which provides for free trade within the region.

“We can go, PNG can go to Fiji, through Melanesia, without a visa, whereas with Australia and New Zealand, we have to apply for a visa. So in terms of business, you can just get on a flight and go to Fiji and talk business with them. Besides, for PNG it’s cheaper doing business in those countries than in PNG. And at the same time, looking at the investment, we should also look at investment destinations in Melanesia, within the region, before going out.”.


17) Big Asian markets to benefit from gas

The National, Wednesday April 30th, 2014

EXXONMobil PNG Ltd will be exporting liquefied natural gas to Asian markets such as China, Japan and Taiwan.
Managing director Peter Graham said in an earlier interview that the company was proud of the PNG LNG project achievements in the past few months.
He said the company was confident of what the project had achieved so far as it progressed towards the start-up of the first cargo.
Graham said the LNG would be transported using six vessels with a capacity of 160,000 cubic metres each.
“We (ExxonMobil PNG Ltd) are very confident and proud of the project’s progress. We are confident of the major milestones achieved,” he said.
“We need a total of six ships – four on lease and two being built in Chinese shipyards.
“Two will be owned by Customs, which will send their own ship to pick up the gas.
“These ships are bigger than LNG tanks in Port Moresby.”

18) Country losing millions

The National, Wednesday April 30th, 2014

The country has lost millions of kina annually due to tax exemptions, Customs Commissioner Ray Paul said.
Paul said everyone was entitled to an exemption whenever the government of the day saw necessary to grant it.
However, he said the only downside of tax exemptions was a reduction in revenue.
“Currently, concessions are being given to those involved in major constructions only,” Paul said.
He said in 2012 alone, more than K600 million was lost through concessions and exemptions.
The government agency was unable to release the figures for 2013 and 2014.
Paul said when companies were exempted from paying tax, based on arrangements between the government and companies, it did not affect the roles and responsibilities of the agency.
During a recent media conference, chairman of the Tax Review Committee Sir Nagora Bogan said the two government agencies responsible for collecting revenue and tax for the government – Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) and Customs – should not be blamed for the loss of revenue due to tax exemptions.
He said some of the investments had separate arrangements between the companies and government depending on nature of the projects.
“IRC or Customs cannot be blamed to make head or tail of these agreements and try to make it work. The investments sort of touches international reputation as well. If we don’t commit to agreements that we sign, then what’s the point in people coming in and investing in the country.”
Meanwhile, Customs is looking forward to review to be carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers to have it prepared to enforce the reviewed tax system once completed.
“We are looking forward to the review because Customs is open to this kind of exercises as it tells us where we are,” Paul said.

19) Travel Air makes maiden flight to Buka

The National, Wednesday April 30th, 2014

Airliner Travel Air made its inaugural commercial flight to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Bougainville yesterday.
The Mangi Lo Ples flight, under the command of Capt James O’Keefe, landed at Buka Airport after midday with 42 passengers on board, including Travel Air chairman Eremas Wartoto.
The rain and the wet weather did not stop the people in Buka from attending the welcome ceremony held at the airport. ABG Minister for Commerce and Industry Wilfred Komba said they had been looking forward to Travel Air’s arrival.
He assured Travel Air chairman Wartoto and his staff that Bougainville was the safest place to invest.
“You will see that Bougainville is a safe place to do business so whatever plans you have, you must bring it over and we will discuss them,” he said.
“Through these discussions, we will look at ways to implement those plans and together we will bring service to Bougainville.
Wartoto said his aim was to provide service to rural travellers of Bougainville.
“As it has been said, it is true that Bougainville is a safe place to invest,” he said.
“However, we must stand “local” and do local business as we are not doing.
“I see that there is still a lot of work to be done, which includes the transportation of students.
“Let’s just not talk about ports to be established in Nissan, Tinputz and Buin but let us do business.
Wartoto presented Komba with a proposal containing issues about Travel Air and the other regional airlines.
“Airlines always struggle because of the high cost of running them, which is inclusive of the operational costs,” he said.
Travel Air is the third airline servicing Bougainville, Airlines PNG and Air Niugini being the other two.

20) Visa arrangement still in early stages: Aust

By Online Editor
10:12 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

Discussions between Australia and Fiji on establishing a Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa arrangement are still in the early stages, a spokesperson for the Australian High Commission says.

Asked on when it would roll out following discussions yesterday between Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brett Mason, the spokesperson said establishing such an arrangement with Fiji is still being explored.

The arrangement is such that partner countries, in this case Fiji, is expected to provide reciprocal access and benefits for Australian nationals. It is a reciprocal tourism and cultural exchange programme with the target beneficiaries being young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, allowing them to have an extended holiday of up to 12 months in Australia, during which they can earn money through short term work and study.

The visa programme however is not a work visa programme, and employment should not be the participant’s main reason for travel, the spokesperson further says. If the primary reason for the travellers trip to Australia is to seek employment or study they would have enquire about a business visa or student visa depending on their needs.

Moves to include explore the possibility of Fiji’s participation in the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa programme “reflects our commitment to expanding and deepening our already substantial links with Fiji.”

Countries that currently participate in the visa programme with Australia are Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, and the USA.

21) Australia flags major changes to foreign aid spending

By Online Editor
10:25 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Australia

Australia’s Foreign Minister has flagged major changes to the way the country determines its foreign aid budget.

Julie Bishop says the Federal Government will soon introduce a performance evaluation system for foreign aid, with an emphasis on value for money.

She says it will ensure the foreign aid system is affordable and sustainable, while still being effective for countries in Australia’s region.

“Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid over recent years some nations will not meet one of their millennium development goals by 2015, and in some instances they have gone backwards, this can not be allowed to continue,” Bishop told a speech in Melbourne.

Bishop says some of the countries receiving foreign aid have not experienced any economic growth.

She says the new system will ensure taxpayers’ money is spent on programs which are responsible.

“In the near future I will announce the detail of a new performance framework for the aid program that will drive the neccessary change to link performance with funding.”

Since its election last September Tony Abbott’s Government has foreshadowed linking Australian aid to its trade priorities.

Bishop’s speech comes as Australia prepares for its next budget – one which the government has already indicated will include major cuts in expenditure in all departments.

Bishop says Foreign Affairs will again feel the pinch.


22) PAFCO: 50 years on

Geraldine Panapasa
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NEARLY 70 per cent of the world’s annual tuna harvest comes from the Pacific.

And according to Pacific Fishing Company chairman Ikbal Jannif, a large part of that was sourced from the western and central regions of the ocean, the home fishing grounds for PAFCO suppliers.

Speaking at the company’s recent 50th anniversary celebration in Suva, Mr Jannif said PAFCO had come a long way since it was first registered on February 19, 1963.

He said operations began a year later in 1964, almost a decade after the idea of a Fiji tuna processing company was born in the late 1950s.


The idea to begin PAFCO operations was seen as a way of helping to fill the economic gap that was created by the declining copra industry in the Lomaiviti Group. Mr Jannif said this idea was taken up and implemented prior to independence.

“When the possibility of a tuna processing plant was first mooted, several Levuka residents were able to influence the decision-makers to encourage the Japanese investors to build the plant in Levuka,” he said.

“With only a transhipment depot and a 2000-tonnes capacity freezer, the Pacific Fishing Company or PAFCO began to make a name for itself as a supplier of premium Pacific Ocean tuna to international markets.”

Venu Shipping Limited owner Ben Naidu also shared a bit of PAFCO history with his peers, saying the copra industry in the Old Capital began to slump about the same time the colonial era started fading.

He said the rhinoceros beetle played a part in the copra industry’s demise on Levuka.

“The copra industry itself was moved to Suva and there was nothing much for the people of Levuka to do. Some had moved on after.

“The colonial secretary called everyone into the town hall and said they were free to go so quite a lot of people moved out of Levuka and those that remained including Ratu Mara and some prominent Levuka people worked together.

“They went to Japan and asked that a pineapple and lolly factory be erected in Levuka. The Japanese investors said there were a lot of sweet factories in Japan already and thought of opening PAFCO, a fish factory to act as a transit point in the Pacific, where fish could be transferred from there to Japan.”

PAFCO was initially owned and managed by a Japanese company and many theories had been offered as to why the company was not profitable or paid no taxes.

Mr Jannif said this resulted in a change of ownership in the late 1980s, with 99.5 per cent owned by the government, and local investors owning the remaining shares. This shareholding, he said, remained the same today.

Contribution to Levuka’s economy

PAFO means a lot to Lomaiviti and is the mainstay of Levuka’s economy, paying about $8million in wages to families who reside in the Old Capital and those who had come from the outer islands of Lomaiviti to work in Levuka.

“With nearly 1000 employees at the peak of the season every year, PAFCO certainly is the largest employer on Levuka and our local staff members are the company’s best workers because they are honest and loyal to PAFCO,” Mr Jannif said.

“Even after 50 years, PAFCO continues to invest significantly in its operations. We had a meeting and quite a large amount of investment was listed but we will need to take this through the board to our shareholders before anything can be confirmed.”

He said the local workforce comprised line supervisors, leading hands and skilled and general workers.

* Tomorrow: PAFCO benefits and improved relations.

23) Mahogany boost

Ropate Valemei
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SAWAKASA landowners were urged to further their business in the mahogany industry during a consultation meeting in Tailevu last week.

While most of the landowners were targeting the Fiji market, they were also urged to export mahogany and take advantage of the zero value added tax benefit by the government.

The landowners were also educated on various tax incentives and business benefits by a team from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority. FRCA official Epeli Naua said it was important for new businesses to register for their tax identification number (TIN) to comply with the Income Tax regulation.

“This includes sole traders, and small and medium enterprises, except for non-governmental organisations. For Certificate of Exemption, purchases can be done without VAT,” Mr Naua said.

He said they received a lot of queries on Customs tax such as duty-free on harvesting materials and machinery.

He said VAT was established as a source of income for government.Fijitimes

24) PNG call to help grassroots into business


An affiliate of the Papua New Guinea Indigenous Business Council says the country isn’t doing enough to encourage grassroots people to develop businesses.

The Council is working on securing more government buy-in on its plan to increase the indigenous ownership of the formal economy to be 70 percent by 2050.

The Peter O’Neill-led government has been establishing programmes to encourage Small to Medium Enterprises, SMEs.

However, Hubert Namani says the costs of doing business in PNG remain so high that most grassroots people are unable to get businesses off the ground.

“There’s a lot of success stories around. But going down to the grassroots level, I think they’re the ones that really need support. Sometimes, I think government needs to put some programmes into providing them incentives, microfinancing. I’m not sure we’re doing enough. I don’t think we’re doing enough.”

Hubert Namani…Radio NZ

25) Safety concerns for PNG capital taxis and buses

The National Road Safety Council of Papua New Guinea has raised the alarm about the poor state of taxis and small buses in the capital.

It says between 80 and 90 percent of them are not roadworthy and are being operated illegally, which puts at risk the thousands of passengers that rely on them.

The Council’s Executive Director, Nelson Tereme, says despite impounding hundreds of buses and taxies over the years, the owners only pay a fine and continue to operate illegally.

He says Port Moresby will host the South Pacific Games and other important meetings but public transport is appalling.

Mr Tereme says there needs to be some form of harsh penalty for offenders to improve road safety.Radio NZ


26) Vanuatu refuses to stamp two passports of single traveller

Reports from Vanuatu say two people were prevented from leaving the country for trying to have two different passports stamped.

The immigration says under Vanuatu’s immigration law, a person is only entitled to enter and to exit a country with a passport and not two.

The individuals in question had a Chinese and a Vanuatu passport, which they had obtained last week after the Citizen Commission in Port Vila had granted them a certificate.

Immigration officials say it is the first such case they have come across.

Last month, the Chinese embassy in Port Vila asked Vanuatu to report Chinese people who get Vanuatu passports because they automatically lose their Chinese citizenship.

Vanuatu changed its laws to allow dual citizenship this year and set up a company in Hong Kong, Capital Investment Immigration Plan, to sell access to Vanuatu citizenship.Radio NZ

27) Electronic land titles to battle corruption

The National, Wednesday April 30th, 2014

IN a bid to stop the abuse of the system in the handling of land titles, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning has introduced an electronic system.
Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan said the issuing and printing of land titles would be done electronically.
Australian company Technology 1 started the installation of the electronic system using the LEAP software programme last year.
“We have a system now in place, the title will not be manual where it’s handwritten. It’s going to be an electronic title, it’s computerised now and we will give out a computer printout as a title to the successful applicant,” Allan said.
“We have now improved our system and there will be no more fake titles.”
Land board chairman Sam Wange said they were working in support of the Government’s fight against corruption at all levels.
“This is part of the process and we have made the recommendations to the minister. This is the process that we are following so everything we have done is here and it’s before the minister,” Wange said.
“We want to tell the public is that the process is not going to easy like in those days. It’s not that you come in and expect a title tomorrow.”

28) Police warn on land feuds

Luke Rawalai
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

POLICE have warned landowners against resorting to illegal measures while resolving land issues.

Speaking to a landowning unit at Nawaisa Village in Cakaudrove on Monday, Savusavu Police Station community policing officer Corporal Saimone May told villagers to refrain from hindering the legal processes of the court.

Cpl May told villagers that the last thing they wanted was for people ending up on the wrong side of the law.

“We know that sometimes landowners have the right to express their views but our concern is to ensure that this is done in a legal way,” he said.

“Landowners have sometimes ended up in prison because they get on the wrong side of the law. The courts are the rightful means of addressing such issues and it is only fitting that this is done.”

Villagers of Nawaisa also thanked the justice department for deferring the eviction order of the nine families at Nasaqasaqa, saying the decision was reasonable.

The resolution followed a two-day stand-off between residents of Nasaqasaqa, Nawaisa landowners and the court.

The issue was first raised in this newspaper on Monday when the family was due to be evicted following a High Court order last year. The nine families facing eviction have been living in the settlement for about 40 years.

The two-acre freehold land is owned by the trustees of the Church of England.


29) Drought likely to hit Fiji this year: Fiji MET

By Online Editor
10:13 am GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Fiji

A medium to severe drought could hit Fiji this year caused by the El Nino/Southern Oscillation effect (ENSO), based on initial assessment by the Fiji Meteorological Office.

In Fiji, this takes place during the cyclone season from November to April each year.

Acting Fiji MET director Aminiasi Tuidraki said the prediction is based on below average rainfall recorded this month and warmer than normal daytime temperatures especially during the wet season among other indicators.

“Lately we have been recording below average rainfall and we are continuing to monitor the system,” Tuidraki said.

He said it’s still early days to determine whether a medium to severe drought will happen as forecasted, but as it is, Tuidraki says the below average rainfall can be defined as the meteorological drought.

“We have two other types of drought being the hydrological drought and agricultural drought which consists of low reservoir levels and impact to vegetation and agriculture respectively.

“The Fiji Water Authority will have their own formula of calculating this likewise the agriculture sector.

All of it happening together can we then declare a drought season so in the meantime we are still monitoring the situation.”

Tuidraki says it will be much clearer between June and August, during the dry season, whether the system will come to be.

“This is when we can determine whether Fiji will experience the medium to severe drought or not.” The strongest drought condition to hit Fiji happened in the 1997-1998 season.

“Fiji suffered economic loss largely because of the impact of the drought particularly in the West. It was strong that it killed livestock because of lack of water, threatened the sugar industry and vegetation and there was lack of water all around,” Tuidraki said.

Estimates indicated the economical impact of the drought that season exceeded FJD$130 million.

Food security was also threatened.

Since then, Fiji has experienced three drought seasons, in 2002-2003 which was weak to moderate; 2006-2007 very weak and the most recent in the 2009-2010 season which was weak to moderate.

Usually recovery period after a drought can take up to one or two years after the event breaks.



30) Aussie impressed

The National, Wednesday April 30th, 2014

AFL Queensland’s integrity manager, Brian Douge is impressed with AFL PNG’s development and management.
Douge was in Port Moresby recently as plans are underway to align the AFL PNG with AFL Queensland.
“I was very impressed by the progress of the game despite the transport and facility challenges. The AFL PNG staff are professional and through their efforts the game has a good reputation which attracts young people to participate in a healthy activity and possibly aspire to play the game at the highest level,” Douge said.

31) Pacific Islands basketballers to benefit from new FIBA competition plans

By Online Editor
1:55 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Guam

Pacific Islands basketballers stand a better chance of playing top nations through new competition structures to be introduced by the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA).

FIBA Oceania president Robert Elphinston says it begins with the Pacific Under-19s Championships to be held in Fiji later this year.

“The winner of the championship in Fiji will qualify directly to the FIBA U-19 World Championships.

“I have to tell you that FIBA is really making good progress as far as the exposure of opportunities for countries in the Pacific,” said Elphinston who is on his last lap as FIBA Oceania boss.

He said that FIBA is copying soccer’s world governing body- FIFA format in how nations qualify for the basketball World Cup.

“We have now gained the approval that the two finalists in men’s basketball at the Pacific Games next year in Papua New Guinea will automatically qualify to participate in the qualifying rounds of the FIBA World Cup starting in 2017.”

He added that the two top Pacific teams along with Australia and New Zealand will compete in groups with Asian federations to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

FIBA Oceania is determined to play a major role in the islands in the next 12 months.

“We are gonna assert our presence in the Pacific to have 14 National Development Officers employed and working with National Federations in the countries to support the development of basketball,” said FIBA Oceania Secretary General David Crocker.

FIBA Oceania is one of 15 International Federations joining the 17 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) at this week’s Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) Annual General Assembly in Guam.

Crocker said that 2014 is a big year for basketball with the holding of the Men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Championships and they are looking forward to fruitful engagements and partnerships at the ONOC meeting.

In the meantime, Elphinston’s term as FIBA Oceania president comes to an end this year.


 32) Oceania region unique says Dr Mitchell

By Online Editor
1:57 pm GMT+12, 30/04/2014, Guam

Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) President and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dr Robin Mitchell says that the Oceania sporting family is unique.

Dr Mitchell says that unlike other regions, this week’s ONOC Annual General Assembly and associated meetings and workshops will involve the 17 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), 15 International Federations (IFs) including the six non-Olympic countries- New Caledonia, Tahiti, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Marianas, Norfolk Island and Niue.

“At this gathering we talk about sports within the region and development of our athletes.

“It allows them (non Olympic countries) to keep abreast of what’s happening in Olympic Sports but also allow us as Pacific countries to work together to help each other,” said Dr Mitchell.

12 of the 17 NOCs will compete at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in September.


33) Australian masters help youths

Arin Kumar
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THE Australian women’s hockey masters over 45 side is in the country for a week-long tour.

The side has returned after a lapse of two years and team manager Gretchen Gamble said the visit was to help with the development of the sport in the country.

“We want to help develop and bring the sport back up because Fiji used to be very strong in the hockey some time back,” she said.

“We are happy we have built a good relationship with Tai Smith (Fiji Hockey Federation development officer) and the main idea is to develop the juniors to come up.”

The side will run a clinic today with the Fiji U18 team that has qualified for the Youth Olympic Games that will be held in Nanjing, China in August.

“We had a bit of a game with them as practise on Monday and they are looking very promising.

“You (Fiji) are going to have a top national team in the years to come.”

Gamble said the side would also present hockey gear to Fiji to help with development among the youth.Fijitimes


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