Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1015

MELANESIA

1a) Rights group calls on Indonesia to stop ‘attacks on freedoms’

1 september 2014

Amnesty International has called on Indonesian authorities to end what it says are attacks on freedom of expression in the country’s Papuan region.

Last month, a missing pro-independence activist was found dead, police arrested students for painting pro-independence graffiti charging one with incitement and two French journalists were detained over immigration violations.

A local leader who had met the journalists has been charged with rebellion.

Amnesty International says provisions under the Criminal Code have been used to imprison dozens of people for their peaceful activism, some for as long as 20 years.

The organisation has called for free and unimpeded access to the Papuan region for journalists and human rights organisations.

They say Indonesia should change laws that restrict the right to freedom of expression and those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of that right must be immediately released.Radio NZ

1b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 1 September 2014

by bobmakin

  • There was no Digest on Saturday and when the majority of the news involves what at times seems to be the national sport of lodging motions one can only await the final outcome. Today one MP was alleged to have mis-used the signatures of two others, in a report in Post, and their support of the motion was withdrawn. It was learned in Daily Post at the weekend that the next Head of State of Vanuatu, about to be elected, will be the next USP Chancellor.
  • Foreign Minister Kilman has returned from visits to Asian and other destinations and was reported in today’s Daily Post to be considering recommending a Sydney consulate in planning with Air Vanuatu to ease the burden of hard-working honorary consul William Longwah.
  • Daily Post’s Editor Royson Willie, in a letter to his own paper on Saturday, deplores the”legalized selling of the people’s identity” in this country in the form of passports. Quite right, too, in this writer’s opinion, when until 34 years ago, as Royson points out, there was no citizenship of any kind at all for the people of this country. Receiving 49% or less for just such a scheme is very wrong and needs to be re-addressed. CIIP has been alleged elsewhere, and by the Prime Minister Joe Natuman, to provide more revenue for the businesses selling it than for Vanuatu. The Vanuatu Daily News Digest adds its support to Editor Royson’s complaint.
  • Saturday’s Daily Post also told us that 70 ni-Vanuatu and 80 Chinese are working on the new Convention Centre. This digest is now offering a subversive plan for that building. As we have learned with our first such centre at Le Lagon, available for the 2013 ACP-EU ministerial conference, there are very few bookings for such a facility and huge maintenance costs. Could not a government which bears no responsibility for the work force which the Centre will never be able to employ just ask the Chinese to modify the structure into a new government building? And if there’s any money left over, could it not be used to renovate all the decrepit housing falling down in the Paddock area? No?

POLYNESIA

2a ) Tokelau shares it solar energy success story with the world while the Pacific struggles with high fuel bills

By Online Editor
8:26 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Samoa 

By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai in Samoa
 
If there is anything that the small island nation of Tokelau wants to share with other 52 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) meeting here in Apia this week – it’s the message that solar energy is the best form of renewable energy for small island nations.
 
Tokelau has pledged to have its electricity fully sourced from the sun by at least 2016.
 
It’s an ambitious plan that is making the island’s General Manager responsible for energy, Robin Pene work over time to achieve the 100 percent renewable energy plan.
 
“We are currently 93 percent solar energy efficient. We have seven more percent to fulfill. We are exploring other forms of renewable energy like wind and biofuel, said Pene.
 
Pene admits that the costs of these renewable energy technologies would be a major draw-back but his government is working with donor partners to realise its renewable energy commitment.
 
Tokelau is a world leader in the use of solar energy. It was recently recognised globally for its use of photovoltaic’s to provide 90 percent of the atolls’ electricity needs. The award was given by New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.  
 
In Tokelau, energy from the sun is used to power modern technology in health, education, construction and maintenance. It has drastically improved quality of life and families are able to afford cheaper electricity, said Pene.
 
“Since the villages on Tokelau have been connected to the solar grid, islanders have seen huge savings on their fuel costs and quality of life has improved compared to 2003 when bulk of their energy needs came from fossil fuel, said Pene.
 
One of the challenges into the future is the replacement of 96 tonnes of batteries that’s powering the solar grids.  
 
“These batteries have a life span on ten years. Once they have reached the end of their life span, they will need to be disposed off and replaced.
 
“We are looking at $2.5 million to replace these batteries. At the same time we will need to work with reputable companies to dispose of these batteries from the island, Pene told regional journalists in Apia.

At the regional level, two countries, Fiji and Samoa have made significant advances in the use of renewable energy to source electricity.
 
Fiji’s hydro power station at Monasavu has generated 60 percent of the island nation’s electricity since the early 1970s. Similarly Samoa has used hydro power to provide 30 percent of its electricity needs.

While the region is making some progress into renewable and clean energy, there is still a high dependence on fossil fuels, said Solomone Fifita, the deputy director energy division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
 
“Annually, the region is spending up to $873 million on importing fossil fuel. In 2008, Fiji alone spent $1 billion to import fossil fuel
 
“But the irony of this is that we are spending so much on fossil fuel and yet we live in the tropics, where we have the sun and wind in abundance. We are located in the midst of the world’s largest ocean, where we can generate energy from the tide, and wave energy from the bottom and top of the ocean, said Fifita.

In addition to that, Fifita said, the region is located next to the Pacific Rim of Fire known for active volcanoes.  
 
“There is potential for generating electricity from geothermal. In the Pacific, only Papua New Guinea has harnessed geothermal for electricity.
 
At the global level, the United Nations wants every individual on the planet to have access to modern renewable energy services by 2030.
 
“Sustainable energy means access to modern energy services by all the people. It’s about reliability, safety and affordability. There is no point in having an electricity line running next to your house and you are unable to connect to it, said Fifita.
 
Here at the 3rd SIDS conference in Apia, Samoa, leaders from Small Island Developing States will be signing a Treaty called SIDS Dock to operationalise it as a new international organisation to promote the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. It will be headquartered in Belize, with a Pacific office in Samoa.
 
SOURCE: PACNEWS

2b) Casino opens

Talamua Online
Monday, September 01, 2014

SAMOA – The long awaited casino club finally opened at Aggie Greys Mulifanua Resort on Saturday in a partnership with the Indo Pacific Gaming International.

It is the first to open from two licences issued more than a year ago.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi in launching the casino highlighted the positives such as employment opportunities and economic benefits essential to the development of the country.

The casino has been under strong criticisms mainly from the churches and other pressure groups for many months since Parliament amended the law to allow the establishment of casinos in the country.

Mr Tuilaepa said the government knew that tourism had been an economic booster for the country and having such a place like the casino was another avenue for economic development.

He said he was aware of the concerns raised by church leaders and several non-governmental organisations about casino operations in the country.

But he said as a leader he had to think of ways to sustain and develop the country.

MICRONESIA

3) Human Trafficking In Guam ‘A Problem’
Guam is doorstep to Asia where trafficking is high

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, September 1, 2014) – An NGO in Guam says human trafficking is a bigger problem on the island then people think, calling on locals to be more vigilant and observant about what goes on around them.

WestCare Pacific Islands provides care services for addiction treatment, homelessness, domestic violence and other issues.

Its vice president, Sarah Thomas-Nededog, says Guam is a doorstep to Asia, where human trafficking is incredibly high.

She says human trafficking is happening in Guam, and there have been cases of girls being brought in from neighbouring islands to what they thought were legitimate work.

She says there were also cases of some young people being offered money for sexual favours.

“Especially when you have young people who are desparate to make an income, who lack the education and the skills to get a job or they have great difficulty getting a job for whatever reasons that they are prone to becoming victims of human trafficking.”

Sarah Thomas-Nededog says the US attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands has put together a Sexual Assault Task Force that will work with various agencies on Guam to stop and prevent further human trafficking.

Radio New Zealand International 

TOK PISIN


4) PNG Hunters i lus long Queelsnland Cup finals

Updated 1 September 2014, 14:57 AEST

Sam Seke

Wanpla point i mekim PNG Hunters ino go long Finals pilai

Odio: Martin Liri midia manager blong PNG Hunters rugby team itoktok wantem Sam Seke

Martin Liri midia manager blong PNG Hunters rugby team itoktok wantem Sam Seke (Credit: ABC)

Ol PNG Hunters rugby league tim i misaut nau long Queenslan Cup faenols long wanpela point tasol.

Midia Manager blong PNG Hunters, Martin Liri itok ol risalt blong ol gen long kompetisen long wiken i lukim ol Hunters i stap long naba 6 posisan.

Em i tok dispela i minim ol bai no gohet long pilai long ol faenol raun.

PNG Hunters ibin joinim Queensland Cup long stat blong despla na oli bin wok long pilai gut tru, tasol oli tok bai oli traem na pilai strong moa iet long yia bihaen.Radio Australia

5) PNG pipal i klinim ples bihaenim volkeno irapsan

Updated 1 September 2014, 14:20 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Ol Rabaul pipal long PNG i stat long kilin ol ples blong ol bihaen long Tavurvur mauden paia ibin pairap long wik end.

Odio: Ima Itikarai bosman blong Rabaul Valconological Observatory itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Ima Itikarai bosman blong Rabaul Valconological Observatory itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman (Credit: ABC)

Ol pipal blong Rabaul long East New Britain provins blong Papua New Guinea nau iwok long stretim ken ol gaden kaikai blong ol em mauden paia ibin bagarapim long Fraide na Sarere long wik igo pinis.

Tavurvur  vokeno ibin stat long pairap long bik moning long Fraide wantem sampla bikpla pairap na emi bin toromoi planti das na ol liklik ston oa pumice.

Tavurvur i wanpla long tupla volkeno em ol ibin pairap long mun september 1994 na bagarapim tru Rabaul Taon.

Ima Itikarai i go pas long Rabaul Volcanological Observatory na emi tok olsem mauden paia istap isi ken tasol ol pipal iwok long traem long klinim ol ples blong ol bihaenim ol dust blong volkeno.

Emi tok tu olsem ol liklik dust tasol iwok long pudaon nau.Radio Australia

FRENCH

6) Brèves d’Australie et du Pacifique – lundi 1er septembre 2014 

Mis à jour 1 September 2014, 16:21 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Le gouvernement australien a durci ses sanctions contre le Russie lundi matin, en raison du déploiement de chars – et probablement de soldats – russes dans l’est de l’Ukraine.

L’Australie suspend donc toute exportation d’armes vers la Russie, et les exportations de matériel destiné à l’exploitation du gaz et du pétrole en Crimée. L’Australie bloque aussi tous les échanges entre les banques d’État russes et le marché financier australien. L’Union européenne, elle, menace de durcir ses sanctions si la Russie ne retire pas son matériel militaire d’Ukraine d’ici dimanche.

  • Nouvelle-Zélande: un homme encagoulé a tué deux employés de la sécurité sociale à Ashburton, une petite ville au sud-ouest de Christchurch, dans l’île du Sud, avant de prendre la fuite à vélo. L’un d’eux est mort sur le coup, l’autre un peu plus tard à l’hôpital. Une troisième personne a été blessée, mais ses jours ne sont pas en danger. La police n’a pas encore arrêté le suspect, un homme de 48 ans qui vit grâce à une pension d’invalidité.
  • Australie: 20 dollars le paquet de cigarettes. Le prix du paquet a augmenté de 13.7%, ce lundi. C’est la deuxième augmentation de l’année, il y en aura encore deux d’ici la fin de l’année. Le conseil du cancer estime que ces quatre augmentations de l’année permettront de réduire de 4% la consommation des fumeurs. D’ici 2016, la cigarette coûtera plus d’un dollar. L’Australie sera le pays où fumer sera la plus cher au monde.
  • Ban Ki-Moon est au Samoa pour le sommet mondial des petits États insulaires en Développement. Le secrétaire-général de l’ONU s’est dit très inquiet des conséquences du changement climatique sur les pays du Pacifique et il a appelé une nouvelle fois les grands pays à se mobiliser. Le secrétaire-général de l’ONU a promis que la création d’un statut de réfugié climatique fera prochainement l’objet de discussions. Mais elle n’est pas à l’ordre du jour du sommet, où plus de 200 partenariats seront annoncés en matière d’adaptation à l’élévation du niveau de l’océan, contre la surpêche, la pauvreté, etc.
  • Australie: John Madigan, un sénateur démocrate-libéral, demande au gouvernement d’arrêter de fermer les yeux sur le traitement des Papous en Indonésie. La semaine dernière la ministre des Affaires étrangères, Julie Bishop, a signé un accord avec son homologue indonésien, pour rétablir des relations diplomatiques normales après des mois de tension suscitées entre autres par la révélation des écoutes australiennes sur les téléphones du Président et des membres de son gouvernement. Deux journalistes français d’ARTE sont toujours en résidence surveillée à Jayapura, après leur arrestation pour reportage illégal début août. Et il y a quelques semaines, cinq rebelles séparatistes sont morts dans un accrochage avec les forces indonésiennes.
  • Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée: le Tavurvur s’est rendormi. Ce volcan de Nouvelle-Bretagne est entré en éruption tôt vendredi matin. Il a couvert de cendres et de pierres les villages alentour, que les habitants ont passé le week-end à nettoyer. Des jardins potagers ont été détruits, et quelques sources d’eau ont été contaminées. Rabaul, la grande bourgade de l’île, a été relativement épargnée.
  • Îles Salomon : deux enfants sont morts de la rougeole. Plus de 550 cas ont été diagnostiqués depuis le début de l’épidémie en juillet. Mais le nombre de malades devrait plutôt atteindre plusieurs milliers, selon le ministère de la Santé, car toutes les personnes infectées ne vont pas voir le médecin. Une vaste campagne de vaccination des Salomonais âgés de 6 mois à 30 ans est en cours. Les enfants sont particulièrement vulnérables, la rougeole peut les rendre aveugles, et déclencher entre autres des diarrhées sévères et des pneumonies. Radio Australia

PACIFIC

7a) Pacific Island women protest violence

By Online Editor
11:25 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Samoa

Violence by men against women is a big problem in the Pacific Islands, and it’s getting worse.

But now 14 women from all over the region have come together to raise awareness with a theatre project. It has been organised as part of the United Nations conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa.

Stages of Change is a two-year project with the aim of tacking the issue of gender violence – something not often spoken about in the Pacific community.

“It’s like taboo in the Solomons to talk about this,” says director Nina Nawalowalo. “When women talk about violence, men [say] ‘it’s my right to hit my wife’.”

It may not be spoken about, but the numbers speak for themselves. In Kiribati, 68 percent of women will be raped or physically assaulted in their lifetime. Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands also have similar shocking statistics, while in Samoa just under half of all woman will be abused.

The Stages of Change cast is made up of 14 different women from all around the Pacific Islands, who have either been abused or know someone who has.

Five of those women will be performing in Apia tomorrow at a special breakfast hosted by the European Union and the British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Jonathan Sinclair. It’s a chance for them to speak up, by not speaking at all.

“The more you speak, it’s like the more the men become ignorant about the issue,” says  Solomon Islander Susan Galutia.

“In our performance we don’t use [words] and I think this is very important. When men come to watch our show, they just sit there and they take in everything.”

Nawalowalo says it’s an opportunity to be a part of the solution.

“Each time we go we build up a bit more material, we place it in front of the audience, we listen to the response, like one does when one makes theatre.”

And they want Pacific men to come and watch, hoping to make a change without apportioning blame.
SOURCE: TV3/PACNEWS

HEALTH

7b) Free dental treatment

Shayal Devi
Monday, September 01, 2014

VOLUNTEER dental group Smiles for the Pacific will carry out free dental work for locals in the Western Division from this week.

This comes after the group successfully conducted several scooping missions in Fiji over a two-year period.

Last year, a Memorandum of understanding was signed between the group and Ministry of Health.

The dental co-ordinator for the group, Miliana Hawea, said this partnership resulted in the refurbishment of a dental surgery, treatment and training centre within the confines of Lautoka Hospital’s dental department.

“As such, Smiles for the Pacific will operate from this surgery utilising the expertise of rotating group of dental professionals from New Zealand,” she said.

“As part of the project, the group will provide free dental treatment, especially those cases which may be too difficult for the local dentists.

“In doing so, they will share the knowledge of the local practitioners and upskill them.

“The group will also send dental specialists who are able to mentor local dentists in other expert dental procedures.”Fijitimes

POLITIC

8) Vanuatu PM May Face Another No Confidence Vote
Follows two unsuccessful attempts last month

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, September 1, 2014) – A motion for a vote of no confidence against Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, has been lodged with speaker of the country’s parliament.

Our correspondent reports that if the motion is accepted, a vote could take place this Friday.

It was placed by the opposition leader, Moana Carcasses, but no reasons have yet been given for why he feels the Prime Minister should go.

Mr Carcasses was replaced as Prime Minister by Mr Natuman in a vote of no confidence in May.

Mr Carcasses’s latest motion has been backed by 27 of the 52 MPs – the minimum required for such an action.

There were two unsuccessful attempts last month to unseat Mr Natuman.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Vanuatu MPs claim fraud as signatures withdrawn

By Online Editor
11:20 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Vanuatu

Two government back-benchers in Vanuatu say their signatures were used fraudulently on a motion for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister Joe Natuman, and have withdrawn them.

The Speaker of the House, Philip Boedoro, says at least three other government MPs who signed the motion also indicate they are going to withdraw their signatures, which will leave the number of MPs in favour of the motion at no more than 22.

According to the Daily Post Newspaper, Richard Mera of Ambae and Kaltaliu Simeon of Malekula say they gave their signatures to the opposition MP Tony Nari for a different purpose, but they were then used against their will and without their knowledge on the motion.

The motion to oust Natuman was lodged by the leader of opposition Moana Carcasses and the deputy leader, Serge Vohor.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

10a) Fiji’s NFP reports confusion over pre-polling

1 september 2014

Fiji’s National Federation Party says pre-polling due to start this week is confused, rushed and disorganised and there are voters who still don’t know they are meant to vote before election day.

Elections authorities announced a week ago voting for the September election would take place in remote areas over a ten-day period starting on Wednesday.

The police, military and prisoners are among other voters also allowed to vote during this time.

The NFP’s leader Biman Prasad says he’s spoken to voters at a community near Sigatoka who were not aware they had to place their vote during the pre-polling period.

“The area that I was in last evening is not a remote area. The reason that the people gave there is it’s a flood-prone area so perhaps that was the reason they used. But to me it didn’t sound a very convincing reason to have pre-polling in that area which is very accessible and two or three kilometres from Sigatoka town.”

Dr Prasad say the NFP wants a concerted campaign from the election authorities to ensure all communities in pre-polling areas do not miss out on their chance to vote.Radio NZ

10b) Bainimarama says the battle is now between Fiji First and SODELPA

By Online Editor
8:20 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Fiji

Fiji First Leader Voreqe Bainimarama has for the first time openly declared that the real battle come September 17th will be between only two political parties – Fiji First and the Social Democratic Liberal Party, or SODELPA.

He has also brushed aside competition from other political parties as he launched an all out attack on what he has now described as a campaign based on “outright lies” by his opponents.

The Fiji First Leader not mincing his words about the tactics he alleges that his opponents are using on the campaign trail.

“Fiji First and SODELPA will contest this election, let me make that very clear, the rest of the parties are minorities. So do not worry about them, but be wary of SODELPA’s campaign policies,” said Voreqe Bainimarama, the Fiji First leader.

Bainimarama says the least SODELPA officials and candidates themselves can do is to be honest with their supporters and stick to the facts.

“Do not be deceived by claims that i-taukei land can be easily given away. That’s all rubbish, do not believe in that; that’s the amendments we are doing contrary to SODELPA’s message,” he added.”

The Fiji First leader also argues that SODELPA’s pre-occupation with the secular state issue which he says has also been twisted into what he described as an outright lie.

“Another argument is that of Religion. We’ve heard in Kadavu that the SODELPA teak is spreading a rumor that, after elections, people won’t be able to pray to Jesus; this is a lie.”

The Fiji First Party Leader also took the time to challenge SODELPA head on.

“Worshiping Jesus will not depend in Elections; No one will take away your conviction. To SODELPA supporters…do not preach lies to people.”

When contacted a SODELPA spokeswoman said they won’t reply to the allegations.

Meanwhile, the National Federation Party (NFP) believes Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry’s decision to join the Bainimarama administration in 2007 will weigh heavily on the party in the general election.

Speaking on FBCTV’s 4 The Record last night, NFP President Tupou Draunidalo said as far as Fiji’s coup culture is concerned, Chaudhry is part of the problem.

“We’ll let the people decide what they think of that issue – they’ll decide at the ballot box – Mr. Chaudhry’s participation in the interim administration and whether that was a good idea or not. We say it was a very bad idea. It’s on the record that our leader wrote to Mr. Chaudhry to dissuade him.”

FLP candidate Dr. Rohit Kishore who was also on the show last night said NFP is only trying to gain political mileage.

“I haven’t heard anything like that in our campaign so if the other parties want to make that any issue, they will make it any issue. I haven’t heard anything like that.”

Chaudhry was the Minister for Finance in 2007 but later resigned.

He then became critical of the Bainimarama government and condemned the administration.

“Draunidalo says ‘anyone who talks about the coup culture must come with clean hands. If you’ve supported a coup maker or been part of his administration – I’m sorry you can’t talk about the coup culture.’

Dr. Kishore hit back that the National Federation Party doesn’t exactly have a clean record either since it joined hands with coup maker Sitiveni Rabuka and the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party.

“In 1997 NFP lost badly because Rabuka was the leader of SVT and he lead the coup. Indians in particular didn’t forgive him. I don’t think they forgave him till today.”

The NFP is adamant it’s going to fight the elections alone, it is however, open to dialogue with any party.

The FLP is sticking to its post-election coalition agreement with SODELPA.

SOURCE: FIJI TV/ FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

BUSINESS

11) Bank report identifies political interference in state companies

By Online Editor
5:29 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Samoa

The Asian Development Bank  Saturday released a damming report on the poor performance of state owned enterprises in a number of Pacific Island economies, singling out political interference as a major contributing factor.

Called ‘Finding Balance 2014: Bench-marking the performance of state-owned enterprises in island countries,’ this Bank’s report particularly singled out Samoa and Papua New Guinea as countries where political decisions had adversely affected the operations of SOEs.

“While the SOE Act prohibits non-directors from influencing board decisions, ministers and cabinet have historically had significant operational control over the SOES,” the ADB report said of Samoa.

“The recent reforms should lessen direct ministerial control over SOE board deliberations and make Cabinet directions more transparent, yet early indications are that ministers – individually and collectively through Cabinet – continue to intervene in SOE matters.

“This is contrary to the SOE law.”

The ADB report highlighted three cases of what it termed as “inappropriate ministerial interference.” It included the Samoa Ports Authority where “Cabinet was active in supporting – if not driving – a series of non-commercial investments by Samoa Ports Authority. The resulting Samoa Tala24 million (US$10.168m) debt burden, combined with the poor profitability of the investments, drove the company toward insolvency. It was rescued with a ST63 million (US$26.692) government transfer in 2012.”

Other two cases identified were Cabinet’s decision in March 2010 to direct the Agricultural Stores Corporation to transfer a ST2.7 million (US$1.143m) land to another state owned enterprise for ST0.80 million (US$338,000), and the directive to the Samoa Airport Authority in 2012 by the responsible minister to “discount the rent charged to a private sector tenant for a large section of airport land.”

On Papua New Guinea, the ADB report noted that corporatisation of SOEs there has not prevented political interference. Undue political intervention is undermining the performance of SOEs, the report claimed.

“Recent moves to replace Telikom’s chief executive officer, direct the NBD to reduce its interest rates and overturn an increase in electricity prices approved by the regulator undermine the SOE’s commercial mandate and independence. Decisions motivated by short-term political gain result in long-term value destruction.”

On a positive note, PNG’s SOE portfolio recorded the highest average return on assets and return on equity in the Pacific region between 2002 and 2012 with the return on equity averaging 10.5 per cent between 2003 and 2007.

For Fiji, the ADB’s Finding Balance 2014 report called for the re-classification of the country’s power utility, Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) from a non-commercial SOE to a commercial SOE.

“FEA which accounts for 40% of the total portfolio assets is a CSA (commercial statutory authorities) and is therefore not required to operate profitably. In reality, FEA does operate commercially and makes significant profits but as it is not subject to the CSO rules, the board withholds all profits and uses these surpluses to fund activities the board determines as CSOs.

“Withholding dividends and determining what are, and are not, CSOs are not decisions that a board should make – they are shareholder (ownership) or political decisions.”

Solomon Islands has the most profitable portfolio in the Pacific, according to the ADB Report, with an average return on equity of the portfolio increasing from a negative 12 per cent in 2002 to 2008 to a positive 6 per cent for 2009 to 2012. Return on equity was 15 per cent in 2012 alone.

The report does find that smaller SOEs in the Solomons like the national broadcaster, the SIBC and the Solomon Islands Postal Corporation are still struggling and need substantial restructuring. “In both cases, selected activities could be discontinued, contracted out or sold to the private sector to attract new investment and expertise for both businesses.”

“All SOEs are under-capitalized and need partnerships with the private sector to survive,” the ADB reported.
Negative performance all around was the verdict in the other Pacific Island country the ADB covered in its recent study of SOEs which was released in Apia today ahead of the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States which opens on Monday.

“The Marshall Islands’ SOE portfolio generated losses each year from 2002 to 2012, with an average return on assets of negative 5.6 per cent and return on equity of negative 12.6 per cent.”

Vice President of the ADB Stephen P Groff released the latest bank report at a short ceremony in Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour in Apia on Saturday afternoon

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

12) Racket busted in PNG

By Online Editor
8:36 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Customs and Port Moresby police have uncovered an alleged car smuggling racket in a remote part of Rigo district in the Central Province.

About 50 buses were confiscated at an abandoned cassava plantation site near Launa Kalana in the Rigo district when the authorities moved in to search the area on Sunday. The cassava plantation is operated by an Asian company but was closed down sometime back due to landownership issues. A few local staffs continue to provide security over the area.

The Customs and Border Security officials and the Royal PNG Constabulary intelligence unit acted on a search warrant in a joint operation and searched the site to confiscate close to 50 vehicles, all Asian model buses that were kept there since June this year.

According to Customs, most of the vehicles and other goods were imported by an Asian contractor engaged with the PNG LNG project and were used during the construction phase of the PNG LNG project in the Central Province.

Since the contractor was engaged by the LNG project, it was allowed under a special agreement with the State to have tax exemption for goods that it imported for work associated with the project, on the understanding that the goods would be returned to their country of origin following the completion of the project.

However, the contractor did not send out the goods in line with the agreement and allegedly opted to keep them. In doing so the company failed to declare them to Customs for the appropriate tax duties to be applied.

The buses were parked in a remote location with an intention to secretly sell them to possible buyers, according to customs officials, which amounted to not only breaching the agreement but breaking relevant import and export laws under the Customs Act. Some politicians have also been named by highly placed sources as having links to the illegal activities.

During the search , a local staff at the plantation site – who did not want to be identified – told Customs and police that the vehicles were driven to the location at night and on Sundays to avoid detection.

“We do not know anything or what kind of arrangements but we are often suspicious that something sinister was going on when the vehicles were brought here mostly during the night times on weekend Sundays and left here. The vehicles are mostly driven here by Asian drivers and usually they bring in four vehicles at a time especially on weekend Sundays and left them here with the keys given to the local supervisor of the yard to be kept,” the staff said.

The acting estate manager of the plantation  also told authorities he too was not aware of the arrangement and only advised to look after the property and the goods that were delivered there. This compelled the Customs and police officers to search buildings at the plantation site and in the process uncovered building materials believed to have been imported under the tax exemption agreement.

The officers also found that some of the buses, mostly the huge 42-seater buses, were not used during the LNG construction phase but were nevertheless imported with other goods covered under the tax exemption agreement.

PNG Customs director (border) Ernest Ilarupa, who was in charge of the joint operation, said the goods, including the vehicles, would be impounded and kept in custody. Time will be given to the company to bring forward appropriate documentation to reclaim the goods. Failure to do so will lead to them being forfeited to the State.

He said appropriate charges will also be laid against the company for violating PNG customs laws.

Most of the buses were transported down to Port Moresby yesterday and kept at the Customs premises while police and customs officers continue to guard other vehicles at the plantation site and would eventually bring them to the city to be impounded.

PNG Customs Commissioner Ray Paul commended his officers on a successful operation that led to the confiscation of goods that bypassed lawful processes.

“I would like to again encourage the public to continue to work closely with us to ensure we protect our country from such unlawful activities. We the Customs cannot check every containers of goods that enters and leaves the shores of our country and I would like to call on you the citizens to come forward with information’s to assist us execute duties to ensure our laws are complied with at all times,” he said.

The Commissioner said his team would now focus on dealing with the company that had breached the law and appropriate action would be taken if the company failed to meet its duty fees after a 30 day notice. Officers would continue to carry the operations to confiscate all items that have not been declared.

SOURCE: POST COURIER//PACNEWS

13) New Solomon Island Bank Surprised By Early Success
Overwhelming response attributed to liberal policies

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, September 1, 2014) – The Solomon Islands’ newest commercial bank, Pan Oceanic Bank, says it’s had a resounding response with more than 5000 accounts opened in its first two months.

The Chief Executive, Nihal Kekulawala, says the locally incorporated bank boasts the country’s lowest interest rates, and unlike other banks, grants loans to both wage earning and self-employed Solomon Islanders.

Most Solomon Islanders use their superannuation savings in the National Provident Fund as collateral for loans.

Mr Kekulawala says he is surprised at the early success.

“I never expected, or we never expected an overwhelming response like this. We never expected that before we complete our second month we will have more than 5000 savings account holders in our books. Its above 5000, more than 5000 now.”

The Chief Executive of Pan Oceanic Bank in Solomon Islands, Nihal Kekulawala.

Radio New Zealand International

14a) Unity needed on nickel in New Caledonia

1 september 2014

New Caledonia’s president, Cynthia Ligeard, has linked the territory’s institutional future to finding a common policy on nickel.

Photo: RNZ

The territory has about a quarter of the world’s reserves of nickel, which is needed to produce stainless steel.

Ms Ligeard says the nickel resources is a factor contributing to tension while it is imperative for New Caledonia to have a coherent policy on nickel.

When the collegial government was formed in June, the nickel portfolio could not be attributed because of disagreements within the pro-independence camp.

New Caledonia has three huge nickel producing plants – two of which have opened this decade.Radio NZ

14b) Air Vanuatu focuses on outer islands

By Online Editor
11:38 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Vanuatu

Air Vanuatu’s acquisition of a second ATR72 aircaft is expected to significantly boost its operations to Vanuatu’s outer islands from September, offering better connections with flights to and from Australia.

The addition of the 70-seat aircraft to the fleet comes as the airline reported a “firming up” of its performance this year after a lacklustre start.

“I’m confident that we’ll achieve a similar good result to that which we achieved last year,” general manager Australia & New Zealand Malcolm Pryor told Travel Today. He confirmed that 2013 had been a “very good year” which had delivered substantial growth for the carrier, exceeding expectations.

The new aircraft is expected to further bolster that performance, catering to rising tourism numbers to islands such as Espiritu Santo and Tanna.

While difficult to substantiate with actual numbers, Pryor reported growing interest in travel to the outer islands from wholesalers and was confident they could comfortably absorb additional capacity.

“We’re very interested in expanding the accessibility of the outer islands,” he said.

“However, we have to be realistic and say that the number of overall visitors who take advantage of that sort of thing and visit the outer islands is relatively small.

“But that’s the charm of it – it’s not mass tourism, nor in the near future will it be.”

The drive ties in well with Vanuatu Tourism Office’s own efforts to develop the outer islands which include the launch of the Ambrym information centre earlier this year to sell tour packages to the lesser known parts of the archipelago as interest in travel beyond capital Port Vila grows.

“We have seen an increase of 20% of visitors actually going out to the islands,” general manager Linda Kalpoi told Travel Today earlier this year.

“That’s more than 10% on previous years.”

The majority of that growth is to Tanna and Santo, but also to islands such as Malekula and Pentecost.

Meanwhile, Pryor urged agents to visit the new Vanuatu Tourism Office trade website, highlighting it as the ideal way for them to boost their destinational knowledge and find further information about Air Vanuatu’s $50 agent fares. The airline has recently reduced companion fares under the deal to $200.

“The good thing about it is we’re very flexible,” Pryor said of the offer.

“People can pretty much design their own holiday and take time when they have time instead of joining an organised famil.”

SOURCE: TRAVEL WEEKLY/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER

15) UN will spare no effort in seeking release of Fijian soldiers: Ban Ki-moon 

By Online Editor
11:36 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Samoa

By Samisoni Pareti in Apia, Samoa

The United Nations will spare no effort in seeking the early release of the 45 Fijian soldiers held hostage by Syrian rebels.

The assurance was made by the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon when he addressed journalists who are covering the 3rd UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which opened today in Apia, capital of Samoa.

“I have demanded the immediate and unconditional release of our blue helmet peacekeepers in the Golan Heights,” said SG Ban Ki-moon.

“We are working around the clock to ensure their early release.”

The UN Secretary General also informed journalists that he had personally telephoned Fiji’s Prime Minister Rear Admiral (retired) Frank Bainimarama to brief him on the status of negotiations between his commanders in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights – bordering Syria and Israel – and the rebels who are holding the Fijian soldiers hostage.

The UN chief leaves Samoa for New York later today, after spending two days in Apia.

On the proposed outcome of the Samoa SIDS Conference to be called the Samoa Pathway, the Secretary General said implementation of the pathway would require partnership amongst all UN agencies and inter-governmental organisations in the respective regions they work in.

He said he was meeting heads of all UN agencies that are in Samoa later today to stress this point. “We have already identified what the problems are, what remains to be done now is providing the tools in tackling those problems, the ways and means of countering these problems.

“I met leaders of the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) today and that’s the same thing they asked me, what accountability will there be for the UN in terms of implementing the Samoa Pathway.

“I am convening a UN conference on climate change in New York later this month and I have also started a Green Climate Fund and our target is to raise $10 to $15 billion to capitalise our green climate fund. “We are getting some positive responses from member states and I can assure you that the UN is addressing this matter of accountability.”.

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

16) Crisis Center Set Up For Families Of Captured Fijian Soldiers
Captured by Syrian rebels as part of UN contingent

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, September 1, 2014) – The Fiji military has set up a crisis centre for the families of 44 Fijian soldiers captured by Syrian rebels last week.

The soldiers, serving as part of a UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel, were detained during fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces on Thursday.

Fiji’s military commander, Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga, says the United Nations has sent negotiators to try and secure the soldiers’ release.

He says that in the meantime, relatives can go to the crisis centre for information and support.

“We’ve set up a crisis management centre where we can have all the access to support for the families. We’re bringing in counsellors, we’re bringing in all the resources of government, including a briefing area to continuously update the families and give them their peace of mind.”

The commander of Fiji’s military, Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga.

Radio New Zealand International

CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT

17a ) Rich nations have moral duty to help island nations as climate change shifts weather patterns, says World Bank envoy 

By Online Editor
8:23 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2014, Samoa

Small island nations, particularly those in the Pacific, are already experiencing “extreme effects” from global warming, and rich nations including Australia have a “moral responsibility” to help them cope with future unavoidable threats, a senior World Bank executive said.

Atoll nations including Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are seeing shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea-levels and ocean acidification that are forcing islanders to move, said Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change.

“For some of the islands, we’re really talking about the extreme effects of climate change now, which are going to put their entire cultures in jeopardy within the foreseeable future” Kyte said.

“We have an obligation to help build these countries’ resilience,” Kyte said, not only for economic reasons but also for moral ones. “Some will argue that this is an actual issue of justice and an actual issue of rights” given the role rich nations have played in emitting greenhouse gas emissions to “poison” the atmosphere, she said.

Climate change will be “a significant focus” of the islands conference, said Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, global head of climate change adaptation for the UN Development Program. “It’s at the core of their development issues.”

Coastal erosion and inundation are already forcing relocations. For residents in very low-lying states, “there may not be anything else to do but migrate”, he said.

A report on the changing Pacific climate released this year by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology found that since 1951, the frequency of warm days and nights had increased more than threefold across the region.

“Once rare extremes that used to occur approximately 20 days in a year, [they] are now occurring much more frequently, between 45 to 80 days in a year,” it said.

Extreme rainfall events that occurred once every 20 years on average during the 1986-2005 period are projected to occur once every seven to 10 years by 2090, even under the best-case low emissions scenario, and every four to six years by 2090 under the worst, the report said.

New Zealand was already discussing taking migrants forced to leave their islands, Kyte said, adding Australia may end up joining in. “We all have an obligation [to help] but good neighbourliness is a good Australian tradition.”

While higher sea-levels are an issue in the Pacific, new research suggests Antarctic waters are rising among the fastest in the world because of the increasing rate of melting of the Antarctic ice sheet.

A study published in Nature Geoscience on Monday has found that from 1992 to 2011, sea-level rise along the Antarctic Coast was at about 4.4 millimetres a year – 1.2 millimetres more than the global average and more than 2 millimetres more than the Southern Ocean overall.

“We know when the water is colder, such as at the poles, that its density is much more influenced by changes in salinity than in temperature, just because it’s colder,” said Craig Rye from the University of Southampton, lead author of the report.

Salinity levels are falling because of a thinning of Antarctica’s grounded and floating ice, with the annual loss in the order of 350 gigatonnes as the planet warms up, according to the report.

SOURCE: SMH/PACNEWS

SPORTS

17b) Roosters move to second

Aap
Monday, September 01, 2014

SYDNEY – The Sydney Roosters have served notice to the rest of the NRL that they are still the team to beat after producing a battling performance to beat Melbourne 24-12 at Allianz Stadium.

The defending premiers’ rise up the ladder has almost gone unnoticed after their sluggish start to the season, but they’ve peaked at precisely the right time.

They have moved up to second spot and can potentially win a second successive minor premiership with victory over competition leaders South Sydney on Thursday.

Craig Bellamy’s side were on top for most of the encounter thanks to two Billy Slater tries but the game turned in favour of the hosts 15 minutes from time when Mitchell Pearce scored following a rare mistake from Cameron Smith.

The Roosters opened the scoring when NSW winger Daniel Tupou timed his run perfectly to latch onto Jake Friend’s well-executed grubber kick after just four minutes.

But the Storm responded well and had the bulk of possession thanks to back-to-back penalties against the home side before Slater darted under the posts allowing Smith to level the game with a close range kick.

The Roosters’ defence held out the visitors despite some heavy pressure as the sides went into the break at 6-6.

17c) Chelsea victory

Afp
Monday, September 01, 2014

LONDON – Chelsea overpowered Everton 6-3 in a remarkable game yesterday to preserve their 100 percent record in the Premier League, after Manchester City were stunned by Stoke City.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea led 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2, but Everton kept coming back at them and it was not until Diego Costa made it 6-3 with his second goal in the last minute that the home side finally admitted defeat at an enraptured Goodison Park.

Chelsea were 2-0 up inside three minutes, with Diego Costa tucking away a pass from Cesc Fabregas after only 36 seconds before Ramires teed up Branislav Ivanovic to drill a low shot past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.

But Kevin Mirallas reduced the arrears with a fine header on the stroke of half-time and when Everton right-back Seamus Coleman slid an Eden Hazard cross into his own goal in the 67th minute, it heralded a flurry of five goals in 10 minutes.

Two minutes later Steven Naismith hit back for the hosts to make it 3-2 and although Nemanja Matic then restored the visitors’ two-goal cushion, Samuel Eto’o marked his first Everton appearance since leaving Chelsea by heading home.

Ramires gathered a pass from Matic and toed the ball past Howard to make it 5-3, and after Mirallas had hit the post, Costa exploited an error from Everton substitute Muhamed Besic to complete the scoring with a classy finish.

The result left Chelsea as one of only two teams to have won their first three games, along with Swansea City, although Tottenham Hotspur can emulate them with victory over Liverpool today.

Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf scored a memorable solo goal as Stoke condemned defending champions Manchester City to their first defeat of the season with a shock 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

The former Manchester United forward struck in the 58th minute, picking up the ball in his own half and powering past Aleksandar Kolarov and Vincent Kompany before squeezing a shot between the legs of City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

British-record signing Angel di Maria made his Manchester United debut earlier on Saturday, but was unable to inspire his new side to victory as they drew 0-0 at promoted Burnley.

A acquisition from Real Madrid, Di Maria started the game and produced some probing passes and darting runs, but he could not illuminate United’s path to goal against Sean Dyche’s side.

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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