Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1048 ( Sundau 30 November 2014 )

MELANESIA

1) Ball starting to roll on MSG regional police force

Updated at 4:22 pm on 28 November 2014

Melanesian Spearhead Group members countries have taken another step towards the creation of a regional police force.

Senior police and government officials from MSG countries have begun a series of consultations on key outcomes of this year’s MSG Police Commissioner’s Conference.

A one-day meeting in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila yesterday will be followed in coming days by meetings in other MSG capitals of Port Moresby, Suva and Honiara.

A press release from the MSG Secretariat says the discussions will help officials more effectively contribute towards the implementation phases of the MSG Formed Police Unit and the MSG Regional Police Academy.

MSG leaders have mandated Fiji to take the lead role on the establishment of these two institutions.

The MSG Secretariat says the Unit and Academy are expected to provide specialised training, deployment of peacekeeping operations and enhance close police cooperation amongst MSG members and the Pacific region.RNZI.

2) MSG Trade Ministers plan ahead for 2016

By Online Editor
9:37 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Papua New Guinea

A third agreement to provide services such as banking, accounting, information communication technology and aviation among Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) member nations will be finalised in 2016, a cabinet minister says.

Trade Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru told a conference Thursday: “By 2017, all goods that we sell among ourselves must be duty free, to make goods cheaper than from other countries like Australia.

“We are now about to finalise the third MSG agreement (MSGTA3) between member countries.

“Under the new agreement we are adding new chapters to not only sell goods among ourselves. We will now want to sell our services.”

By 2017 there will be double tax treaty and Investment Promotion Protection agreement so end of year when PNG company declares a profit it must send it back to Papua New Guinea.

“West Papua is keen for Air Niugini to go there.

“Vanuatu is keen and they want us to go back and reconnect.”

Department of Commerce Trade and Industry secretary John Andrias said the MSG trade fair – which starts today – would allow Papua New Guinea to address key issues in doing business issues inthe country. He said: “It allows us to learn from international bodies some best practice concepts to assist each of our countries to improve our ability to attract investments into our country and an opportunity to look into the silver bowl and work out what emerging opportunities are over the horizon.

The next Trade Ministers meet will be in Vanuatu and investment roadshow in New Caledonia.

Meanwhile, with three more days to go before the closing of the 2nd Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade and Investment Roadshow in Port Moresby, the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) chipped in K600,000 (US$235,200) towards the event.

At a presentation Thursday, NGCB acting chief executive Imelda Agon said the funding was part of its benefit support.

Agon said: “It is a pleasure on behalf of the board. It is a community benefits fund functions we set up to assist projects by the government

“We believe the contribution will go a long way in assisting the setup of the event.”

Trade Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru said the investment from NGCB and other sponsors would go a long way in portraying a good image of Papua New Guinea and among all MSG member nations.

He thanked the sponsors who had contributed to the successful staging of the one day Trade Minister’s meeting in Port Moresby.

The roadshow and fair, which starts today, will see PNG companies, the manufacturing sector and small medium enterprises displaying a variety of goods and services at the exhibition.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

3) MSG trade ministers urged to chart new paths

By Online Editor
2:10 pm GMT+12, 26/11/2014, Papua New Guinea

Leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) have been called on to re-engineer and formulate a new roadmap to remain a relevant and a much sought after sub-regional trading block.

Papua New Guinea deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion addressed the MSG leaders in Port Moresby Wednesday, urging them to put together clear goals to pursue and attract new members to the MSG family.

He singled out serious questions that needed to be answered by the responsible leaders in order to pursue a bigger global market and family.

“The MSG has to re-engineer itself and formulate a new road map with clear goals that we want to pursue, to remain a relevant and a much sought after sub-regional trading block, which is critical to attract new members to join our MSG family,” Dion said.

“The responsibility on you here at the MSG trade ministers’ meeting is to define the future of the MSG as a serious regional trading block.

“Our future hangs in the balance and now in the hands of you my good MSG trade ministers and officials gathered here today,” he said.

“Do we add new chapters and take MSG trade and investment to the next level or we resort to bilateral trade agreements if member economies see a win-win opportunity to do business with each other.

“Should the MSG be a political lobby group as it was then when it was first founded, or is there potential for the MSG to evolve into a major sub-regional trading block, that is the ending for growth within the current MSD trading Block (PNG, SI, Fiji and Vanuatu) or under a bigger and expanded MSG sub-regional block,” Dion said.

“What is the current and future role of MSG and why should each member economy continue to be a trading partner in the MSG trading block operating under the MSG trade agreement.

“What is the MSG sub-regional group anchored on? What are its foundational pillars and its future in terms of value?” Dion asked the ministers.

He stressed that while the MSG countries’ economic, social, cultural and environment dynamics present unique challenges for the respective governments and the people, everyone in the MSG must also appreciate that we are part of a bigger global community that is opening up for free trade under a more integrated common market.

“Even under major regional trade and investment blocks APEC and ASEAN individual members are moving into signing bilateral trade agreements with each other under Free Trade partnerships like Australia, New Zealand and China who have signed after years of negotiations.”

The Deputy PM told the leaders that there was a political will if they all agreed to chart out a new path under a revised MSG trade agreement.

Meanwhile, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries still do very little trade amongst themselves in the trading of goods and this has raised eyebrows of emerging nations.

Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion, in his address to officially open the 2nd MSG trade ministers meeting in Port Moresby, criticised the leaders for being negligent to trade with each other.

Dion stressed that MSG countries’ trade volumes with each other with respect are negligible as Fiji sells only up to K100 million (US$39 million)  in goods to PNG and K50 million (US$19 million) the other way. PNG’s sales to the Solomon’s have declined significantly and PNG only sells up to K4 million (US$1.5 million) in goods to Vanuatu annually.

He told the leaders that after 21 years of trading under the MSG Trade Agreement with PNG, they still have not achieved the outcomes suchg as agreeing on a fixed deadline to have an MSF Free Trade Areas (FTA) and the establishement of double tax incentives amongst themselves.

“I understand only PNG and Fiji have a double tax treaty and there is no investment promotion and protection agreement amongst ourselves,” Dion said.

“We have failed to make even travel for our businessmen and women easier in terms of connectivity because we still do not have a MSG travel card 21 year similar to the APEC card.

“Air and sea connectivity is mixed in terms of serious connectivity. We still do not have a harmonised customs union to easily facilitate intra MSG trade and investment and our policies and negotiations are not friendly to facilitate trade amongst MSG member States,” he said.

“The trading of goods amongst our member economies has declined significantly and the question of whether there is potential to grow intra MSG trade and investment and what are the building blocks to do that need to be discussed in this meeting because the trade volumes are so small and may I respectfully say insignificant compared to our trade with other economies within the greater Asia and Pacific region,” he said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

4) Economy high on MSG Trade agreement agenda

By Online Editor
6:34 pm GMT+12, 26/11/2014, Papua New Guinea

Economic cooperation and integration will continue to be the vision for the MSG Trade Agreement (MSGTA) for member countries in the next 25 years says Papua New Guinea Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru.

Maru said this during the opening of the second Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Ministers’ Meeting (TMM) in Port Moresby Wednesday.

He said that vision could be fulfilled through the MSG’s key objectives of trade and investment under the MSGTA signed by member countries PNG, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in 1993.

Maru said since then the economic and trade relations among member countries had improved through reduction in duties on goods in the negative list to zero during eight years from 2005.

He said it was pleasing to note that out of the inaugural TMM in 2013 PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu were now trading without charging duties and welcomed the Solomon Islands’ proposal to revisit its tariff reduction schedule.

“I believe we can achieve a lot if we put in place agreements that promote and protect our investments, avoid double taxation, improve both air and sea connectivity to better enhance our business people and cargoes, thus enhancing economic growth in our countries and region,” the minister said.

Maru said that collaboration and cooperative approach must be employed by member countries to address trade imbalances as was demonstrated by Fiji and Vanuatu through the latter’s imposition of safeguard measures on chicken products.

He also called for a shift in the MSGTA from being a goods-only agreement to include movement of skilled personnel from the member countries.

“The MSGTA has evolved over time and needs to be taken to another level with the core objective of economic development and integration,” the PNG Trade and Industry Minister said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

5) MSG sets on direct Shipping route

By Online Editor
9:22 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Papua New Guinea

A feasibility study is mooted to be undertaken to determine the viability of a direct shipping route to be introduced among member countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

This is one of 11 key decisions which were signed off on by the MSG Trade Ministers in a joint communiqué called the Port Moresby Declaration on “Securing Future MSG Prosperity through Trade and Economic Integration”.

The declaration was signed by Chairman of the Trade Ministers Meeting (TMM) and Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry Richard Maru, Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism-Fiyaz Siddiq, New Caledonia’s Representative to the TMM-Yvon Faua, Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade-Deputy Secretary Trade, Joseph Ma’ahanua and Director General –Ministry of Trade, Tourism, Cooperative and Ni-Vanuatu Business-Marokon Alilee.

Maru said the study will be funded by the PNG Government and is expected to be concluded by 2015. He stressed the decision is important for the MSG countries because the high cost goods being traded among member countries due to no direct shipping service servicing the MSG route.

“Because there is no direct shipping service servicing the MSG route, all goods going to places like Fiji and the Solomon Islands and vice versa have to pass through Australia making it not only difficult but expensive,” he said.

He said the study will determine among others if the sub-regional group has the volume for the service to be introduced.

Other  key decisions that the ministers had renewed their commitment to are; achieving Free Trade Area by 2017; concluding the MSG trade agreement-three on goods and services.

Meanwhile, for trade and economic relations to foster diversified growth in the MSG region, there needs to be more investments between member countries.

PNG Trade and Commerce Secretary Jim Andreas said the seminar was an opportunity for member countries to share ideas on how to promote investment opportunities in the MSG sub-regional block, as well as for them to finalize discussions on the best options to include an Investment Chapter in the new framework of the current MSG Trade Agreement, the MSGTA3.

“Our leaders expect the officials and Ministers (at the seminar) to deliver a complete package of MSGTA3 by the end of 2016 under which there is an agreement to insert a key chapter on investment

“That chapter is important because without investments there can never be trade happening between our countries. There must be more investments happening in all our sectors which provide the best advantage,” he said. Andreas said the draft format of the agreement covers areas from investment facilitation to dispute resolution.

He said the terms of the MSGTA3 Text once completed will “achieve greater certainty and clarity” in the member countries’ investment environment and uncover opportunities for both international and regional investors.

Andreas admitted that despite the differing developmental challenges of each MSG country, they can benefit from feeding off each other’s success and growth , a prospect he said PNG as the biggest economy in the Pacific region is willing to examine given its huge development potential and current economic growth.

“Investment within our sub region offers that possibility so while we talk about attracting investments from outside the region, there are even greater opportunities for us to promote wider and deeper intra-regional investments between both the recipient as well as the country whence the investment came from,” he said.

He added this can be achieved given the cultural context of the countries fostering better understanding of each other and adaptability towards each other.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

6) PNG’s new women’s bank targets 800,000 customers by 2016

By Online Editor
3:16 pm GMT+12, 26/11/2014, Fiji

By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai

Papua New Guinea’s newest bank,  the Women’s Micro Bank wants to reach out to 800,000 women in the country by 2016.

When it opened for business in August, more than 10,000 women, mostly from rural Papua New Guinea opened savings account with the bank.

Founder of the bank and President of the PNG Women In Business, Janet Sape said K2.5 million from the women’s saving was used as capital to set up the new bank.

“This is a home grown financial institution started by women themselves. It started as a dream and the women in Papua New Guinea followed that dream to set up the bank.

“PNG women, who represent 80-90 percent of the rural population, are the most forgotten. They don’t have access to funds to support their informal businesses, said Sape who is in Nadi this week attending the three day Women in Business Conference.

In 2006, the long and tough journey to set up the bank started. They were rewarded with a banking certificate in August this year when the bank opened its doors.

“Now that we are established, we’d like to advocate for a saving culture amongst our women. We can start saving little now to build something bigger in the future, said Sape.

Only three months into its operation, the new bank has already been recognised as one of the 50 leading companies owned by women in the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) region.

“This is a major achievement for the new bank.

The bank plans to open two branches a year throughout the Melanesian country.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

7) PNG’s first woman aviation company owner shares her story

By Online Editor
9:29 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Fiji

By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai

Dreaming big is one of the many ideas that women entrepreneurs from around the Pacific region meeting in Nadi this week have been talking about during the conference.

A business woman that has taken this idea to a different level is Ruth Undi from Papua New Guinea’s resource rich area of Ialibu in the Southern Highlands.

Undi, 42 likes to call herself a ‘grassroot’ mother and yet she is the first Papua New Guinean woman to own and operate an aviation company, Niugini Aviation, with a fleet of three planes.

With no aviation background, Undi bought her first plane in 2011 because she saw the need to service the remote areas that are not accessible by road.

“That’s when I bought my first 206 six seater aircraft from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The plane was used to transport medical supplies to remote areas. Mining companies also hire the plane for private charters, Undi told PACNEWS at the Sheraton Resort in Nadi where she is attending the regional Women In Business Conference this week.

“As the demand grew, I approached a contact in New Zealand and bought two more aircraft.

The mother of four doesn’t want to be branded as a ‘trail blazer’ for women in the aviation industry. She said ‘she is not there yet.”

Undi attributes her success to a supporting husband and employees.

“When you employ the right people and properly compensate them, they will perform to the best of their ability. My husband has always been there for me when I was taking the risks, said Undi.

She has bigger plans for the future – one of which is the upgrade of her fleet to 19-seater twin otters to service other parts of Papua New Guinea. This will mean the upgrade of the airline’s operating license, which was approved in 2013.

Undi also owns a construction company, Kana Construction in Port Moresby, while her husband Ron operates and insurance company.

When pressed about the value of her company, Undi did not want to divulge that information.

Attending the Women In Business conference in Nadi was her first ever direct engagement with other business women from around the region.

“I am here to meet, learn and network with other sisters from the Pacific. It makes me feel good to see that I am not alone and that there are other potential business women facing similar challenges in other parts of the Pacific.

“For me, the sky is the limit. I will tell my story once I have achieved everything that I have dreamt, said Undi.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

8a) West Papua Summit In Vanuatu Convenes Next Week
Meeting to produce united bid to join Spearhead Group

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 27, 2014) – The chair of Vanuatu’s West Papua Unification Committee is confident next week’s summit will produce a united West Papuan bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

About 200 West Papuans are expected at the conference, which is to begin from the 1st of December, following a march of solidarity for the West Papuan people in Port Vila.

A formal membership application by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation was knocked back by the MSG earlier this year, whose leaders called for a more representative bid.

The chair of Vanuatu’s West Papua Unification Committee, Pastor Allan Nafuki, says he expects they will be able to deliver such a bid by the end of the summit.

“By this summit we expect all of them will sign requesting membership for MSG. Yes, I’m confident that this is one of our main highlights in our summit,” says Pastor Nafuki.

Radio New Zealand International 

8b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 29 November 2014

by bobmakin

 

  • The usual morning news on VBTC just failed to turn up this morning. As if there was nothing to report. And then, after my waiting an hour at Au Bon Marché it was to learn The Independent “didn’t come,” to explain it failed to get on the plane from Australia (or wherever) last night. This newspaper registered as a local charity feels obliged to print overseas.
  • The big news really can be stated in a couple of lines. Daily Post does that. The constitutional case of the 16 MPs was moved to Monday, even though a holiday. The sixteen have lodged a petition against their suspension. And the Speaker has moved the censure motion against the government of PM Joe Natuman to Thursday. That’s it. The Vanuatu Times has a Government-side MP saying he was approached by an Opposition group offering him VT 1 million at a time when the loan scheme had not been invented. It was alleged there was a fund of VT 300 million to bribe voters.

 

 

  • Daily Post reports PM Natuman replying to MP Mokin Steven yesterday asking whether Government will consider legislation to control naturalized citizens. “This is a matter for everyone in the House to debate,” said Natuman. “It requires bi-partisan support and both sides need to come to a consensus.” Unfortunately the meeting for next month has had to be postponed, but the PM said the Commonwealth Secretariat was ready to make inputs. PM Natuman said a lawyer had been been commissioned some time ago and “We will continue to advance talks to have a Political Integrity Bill.” This would cover the age-old Vanuatu problem of floor crossers causing instability.

 

 

  • Daily Post also has news of the VT 29 million vatu allegedly misappropriated from Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) and an air services agreement signed between Vanuatu and Kiribati.

 

 

  • Thousands are expected to march on the Unity Day (Monday) public holiday in a gesture of solidarity for the West Papuans. HappyUnity Day, but be at Fatumauru Bay at 11, prepared to march to Saralana.

 

8c) Vanuatu daily news digest | 28 November 2014

by bobmakin

 

  • Daily Post reports more than VT 500 million going in to new government policy initiatives for 2015. Almost VT 300 million will be used to retire current government workers and pay out those who have retired. In the budget speech, Finance Minister Simelum promised nearly VT 180 million for growing the economy and concentrating on tourism, lands and agriculture. VT 115 million will go towards health and education, youth and sports.

 

 

  • PNG Peter O’Neil is chartering a plane to bring nearly a hundred West Papuan delegates to the Chiefs’ Nakamal for the international forum on the future for West Papua. A church service organized by the VCC will take place at Saralana at 2 on Sunday. Monday, the Unity Day holiday this year as declared by State House, is also the 53rd anniversary of the first raising of the Morning Star Flag as the emblem of the liberated West Papua. A march of those supporting West Papuan independence will take place from Fatumauru Bay to Saralana at 11 on Monday.

 

 

  • Radio Vanuatu News today has concentrated on statements made by parliamentarians, beginning with the Prime Minister pointing out that people of this country were stateless until Independence. “We were stateless and lacked an identity and we fought for our independence to have a citizenship.” He was explaining the dual citizenship status created last year. The same bulletin carried Lands Minister Regenvanu addressing changes to strata title registration and how existing title holders, whilst expatriates, would have their leases protected.

 

 

  • Daily Post reports on the original ni-Vanuatu inhabitants of La Colline village at Second Lagoon being ordered to move out owing to a Supreme Court order of 2010 in favour of Westpac Bank (holding the lease under instruction from the estate of the late Henri Ochida of Laho Limited). The continuing inhabitants of the village are said to have no lawful right to remain there. However, the late Chief Waea Tenene asked the founders of the village to tend gardens there for additional produce for the village before Independence. Subsequently custom owners claimed ownership of the village in order to sub-divide and lease the land. However, an earlier judgement of the Island Court in 1994 establishes a different custom ownership which at that time was said to be undisputed. However, another custom ownership was declared at the end of that year and that one differs from the present alleged ownership. Whomsoever should become the investor trying to sub-divide, Westpac is requiring the inhabitants to leave the village by 4 on Monday. They do not wish to go.
  • A constitutional case was filed by the 16 Opposition MPs who were suspended from Parliament Tuesday. They wanted the case heard this morning so, they say, they can participate in the Motion of No Confidence against Prime Minister Natuman at 3 this afternoon.
  • Transparency Vanuatu’s Chairman sees the appointment of a foreign Public Prosecutor as “a way forward to reducing preferential treatment” in today’s Transparency page. “He should be neutral in his work,” Dr Tokon said.

 

POLYNESIA

9) Former Tongan MP blames loss on party split

Updated at 9:52 am on 29 November 2014

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The outgoing Tongan MP ‘Isleli Pulu blames his election loss on his decision to leave the Democratic Party’s candidate list.

Mr Pulu stepped down in protest at how the list was chosen, and openly disagreed with Party leader Akilisi Pohiva.

Mr Pulu was beaten comprehensively by a former journalist, Mateni Tapueluelu, who was backed by the party in the Tongatapu 4 constituency.

Mr Pulu, who has been in parliament for 14 years, says he holds some regrets.

“To some extent yes, I feel. But I’ve totally forgot it now because I’m already out. This should give Akilisi a chance and the rest of the team to prove to the government and also the people of Tonga they are capable.”

Mr Pulu says he will still support the democratic movement.

Related

Dumped Tongan MP happy as independent

Demo leader in Tonga retains hope despite further election blow.RNZI

10) Tongan Voters Elect 12 New MPs
8 of 9 Nobles returned, no women elected

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 28, 2014) – There will be 12 new MPs among the 26 members elected to Tonga’s Legislative Assembly after Thursday’s vote for both the nobles and people’s representatives.

Eight of the nine nobles from the previous parliament have been returned with one of the two Ha’apai seats going to Lord Tuiha’agana in place of Lord Fakafanua.

The newcomers include the auditor general Pohiva Tu’ionetoa, and Siaosi Sovaleni, who was the chief executive of Tonga’s Ministry of Public Enterprises.

16 of the 105 candidates were women, a record number for Tonga, but none were elected.

Four incumbents who had served as cabinet ministers during the previous parliament were dumped, though the finance minister, Aisake Eke in Tongatapu No 5, got back in with the highest number of votes cast of any electorate.

Veteran democracy campaigner Akilisi Pohiva, who was first elected in 1987, won easily in Tongatapu No 1.

He has indicated this will be his last term in parliament.

[PIR editor’s note: According the Matangi Tonga the results are as follows:

Tongatapu 1 Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva 1422 (returned)

Tongatapu 2 Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika 1050 (returned)

Tongatapu 3 Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni 975 (new)

Tongatapu 4 Mateni Tapueluelu 761 (new)

Tongatapu 5 ‘Aisake Valu Eke 1621 (returned)

Tongatapu 6 Poasi Mataele Tei 1010 (new)

Tongatapu 7 Sione Vuna Fa’otusia 796 (new)

Tongatapu 8 Semisi Fakahau 991 (new)

Tongatapu 9 Penisimani ‘Epenisa Fifita 648 (new)

Tongatapu 10 Pohiva Tu’ionetoa 1369 (new)

Results for outer islands:

Tevita Lavemaau for Eua 11 took Sunia Manu Fili’s seat.

Vili Manuopangai Hingano in Ha’apai 12 beat the incumbent Moale Finau by three votes.

The incumbent ‘Uliti Uata did not stand in Ha’apai 13 and Veivosa Light of Life Taka took his seat.

Saia Piukala in Vava’u 14 knocked out Lisiate ‘Akolo with a wide margin.

Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu retained his seat, while his two main challengers knocked each other out in Vava’u 15.

‘Etuate Lavulavu, a former MP, took Viliami Latu’s seat in Vava’u 16.

The Niuas 17 returned their incumbent Sosefo Fe’aomoeata Vakata.]

Radio New Zealand International 

MICRONESIA

11) Kiribati To Close Phoenix Islands To Commercial Fishing
Protected Area eventually to be monitored by 10 patrol boats

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 27, 2014) – The Kiribati government has announced that from the first day of 2015, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, will be closed to commercial fishing.

The PIPA office in Tarawa has told the Kiribati Independent the vast area is now being monitored by a single patrol vessel.

It says it is planning to get ten more patrol vessels in 2017.

An American journalist Christopher Pala has claimed the President Anote Tong misled the world when he said the PIPA was closed off to commercial fishing, when a number of ships were found to be fishing in the area.

The Kiribati government has rejected Mr Pala’s claim.RNZI

12) CNMI Government Owes Utility Corporation $27 Million

Hospital, public schools have highest amount of arrears

By Jayson Camacho

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 28, 2014) – Government accounts collectively owe the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. a total of $27.058 million as of Oct. 28, 2014, according to CUC executive director Alan Fletcher.

“These include past arrears and payments that haven’t been collected from government agencies,” Fletcher told CUC board members at their last board meeting.

The central government itself owes a total of $3.607 million, Fletcher said. Of that amount, $3.157 million represents uncollected past arrears.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has a total balance of $13.484 million, of which $13.042 million is past arrears.

The Public School System has a total balance of $8.266 million, with $8.118 million representing past arrears.

Other government agencies owe a total of $1.7 million, of which $1.025 million is past arrears.

“So far, the government agencies are paying some of the past arrears but in little amounts. They have been keeping up monthly but not everything,” Fletcher said.

Read more : Saipan Tribune

13a) Namdrik Atoll, RMI Plans Large Pearl Harvest
Isolated community seeds nearly 3,000 oyster shells

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Nov. 27, 2014) – An isolated community in the Marshall Islands harvested a small number of pearls earlier this month, while seeding nearly 3,000 oyster shells that they hope will lead to their largest-ever harvest in 18 months’ time.

Namdrik Atoll has one of only two active pearl farms in the Marshall Islands. The local community has been piloting pearl farming for several years, and is now attracting donor support from the United States and South Korea to boost operations.

Apii McLeod from Manihiki Atoll in the Cook Islands spent almost a month on Namdrik to work with the local community on the third harvest and seeding of a new crop of black lip pearl oysters. McLeod, who runs her own successful pearl farm in the Cook Islands, has been involved in working with Namdrik for several years, assisting them to develop the pearl industry.

“For this small harvest, we were able to see about 369 pearls,” said Sen. Mattlan Zackhras. “Thirty-six were considered rejects, and 36 were keshi pearls which are often discarded because of their size and quality. Quality wise, we saw a lot of lower grade pearls, which tells us more training on management and oyster handling needs to take place.”

Training was a big part of McLeod’s visit, as she worked with Namdrik pearl farm workers doing the seeding, underwater work, and the pearl harvest.

“McLeod seeded 2,705 shells, including 284 re-seeded oysters from the last harvest,” said Zackhras, who is optimistic about development of the Namdrik pearl farm. “We are hoping to get our largest harvest in the history of the project 18 months from now or around April 2016,” he said.

After several years, Namdrik has completed its pilot stage and is gearing up for full scale launch using the grant assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Pacific American Climate Fund of about $150,000.

“We will be focusing on training two of our people to become seeding technicians which includes a visit to Cook Islands,” Zackhras said. The Cook Islands and French Polynesia are the Pacific’s major pearl exporters.

In 2012, Namdrik received global recognition for its sustainable development work when the United Nations Development Program awarded the community with its “Equator Prize” at a global conference in Brazil.

Marianas Variety

FRENCH:

13b) Brèves du Pacifique – vendredi 28 novembre 2014

Mis à jour 29 November 2014, 0:29 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

« Des grêlons comme des éclats de shrapnel »: Brisbane a été frappée par un orage supercellulaire jeudi après-midi.

Hail stones in Brisbane’s CBD Posted yesterday at 9:11amFri 28 Nov 2014, 9:11am People take photos of a pile of hail stones in Brisbane’s CBD after a severe thunderstorm swept through the city, Thursday, November 27, 2014. AAP: Dan Peled

La grêle s’est abattue sur Brisbane, « comme des éclats de shrapnel », selon le Premier ministre du Queensland, Campbell Newman. (Credit: AAP)

C’est la pire tempête qu’ait connue la ville depuis dix ans. Outre des vents d’une vitesse cyclonique, cet orage très spectaculaire a apporté des grêlons gros comme des balles de cricket.  « Ce sont comme des éclats de shrapnel qui se sont abattus sur Brisbane », a expliqué le Premier ministre du Queensland, Campbell Newman. Résultat: arbres abattus, toitures envolées, pares-brises brisés… et 90 000 foyers sans électricité cette nuit à Brisbane. Depuis, la situation s’est arrangée, mais 20% des foyers sont toujours sans électricité. Aucune victime à déplorer, mais 12 personnes ont été blessées légèrement.

 

  • Le Vanuatu se prépare à accueillir le sommet des groupes indépendantistes papous. Il aura lieu la semaine prochaine à Port-Vila, après plusieurs reports. 200 délégués papous sont attendus pour cet événement crucial: les different groupes indépendantistes devront se mettre d’accord pour rédiger une candidature commune au Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance. Le sommet s’ouvrira le 1er décembre, une date hautement symbolique, considérée comme la fête nationale par les Papous d’Indonésie. Le 1er décembre 1961 en effet, les colons néerlandais ont autorisé les Papous à lever leur drapeau indépendantiste, le Morning Star, au Parlement du territoire. Mais peu après le départ des Néerlandais, l’Indonésie a envahi la Papouasie.

 

 

  • La normalisation des relations entre l’Australie et Fidji se poursuit. Margaret Twomey, la nouvelle ambassadrice australienne a présenté ses lettres de créance au Président fidjien. Les relations diplomatiques entre les deux pays étaient suspendues depuis cinq ans, depuis l’expulsion de l’ambassadeur australien James Batley par Franck Bainimarama. Techniquement, ils ne sont pas le titre d’ambassadeur mais remplissent les memes fonctions – ce sont des hauts-commissaires, c’est le nom donné aux ambassadeurs des pays du Commonwealth britannique, or Fidji et l’Australie sont membres de l’organisation.

 

 

  • Elle est championne du monde de surf pour la sixième fois. La Reine Stephanie Gilmore a remporté sa couronne à Hawaï jeudi lors de la compétition Target Maui Pro. Un titre vaincu de haute lutte car l’Australienne de 26 ans s’est faite éliminer en quart de finale par l’Américaine Courtney Conlogue. Mais elle a bénéficié des défaites de ses deux rivales pour le titre Sally Fitzgibbons, et Tyler Wright. Sextuple championne du monde, Stephanie Gilmore se rapproche du record de sa compatriot Layne Beachley, qui a remporté 7 titres mondiaux dans sa carrière. Radio Australia

 

HEALTH

14) Don’t be a Macho man

Tevita Vuibau

Sunday, November 30, 2014

THE majority of Fijian men who turn up at hospitals with prostate cancer do so when the cancer has reached later stages and is untreatable.

These were the worrying statistics produced by Health Minister Jone Usamate yesterday,

The statistics were discovered in a recent study conducted by the Urology Department of the CWM hospital.

Sponsored by the Suva Golden Oldies Rugby Club, the study also found Fijian men have poor knowledge of prostate cancer and their health-seeking attitudes are poor.

Commonly seen in men over the age of 35, symptoms of a cancerous growth in men’s prostates include difficulty urinating, a weak or interrupted urinary stream as well as blood in urine and semen.

“Prostate cancer is curable when it is in stage 1 or stage 2,” Mr Usamate said.

“Unfortunately, the majority are presenting at stage 4 where palliative treatment is the only option so to give some quality to the last days of life.”

Speaking at the opening of the Suva Golden Oldies Rugby Club Balls and Beards Tournament, he explained that i-Taukei men present more with the aggressive or high grade cancers and in later stages, adding that an average of about 40 to 60 men die annually from prostate cancer although the true numbers could be much more.

Mr Usamate also added his voice to countless others calling for men over the age of 35 to change their attitudes to getting tested for prostate cancer.

Suva Golden Oldies Rugby Club president Jope Tuivanuavou said the club was ecstatic with amount of awareness raised in November for prostate cancer.

“In fact, I am very very happy about, it I think that the message is going out there pretty far and wide basically because the guys that were very susceptible to this disease are the oldies that are playing here.

“I just keep insisting and asking all men out there, stop being a macho man, come down and get tested and we will see who is really the macho man here.”Fijitimes

POLITIC

15) PNG PM defends budget deficit

Updated at 4:52 pm on 28 November 2014

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Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has defended his government’s budget deficit strategy.

After the 2015 budget was passed earlier this week, the opposition MP Don Polye criticised the government for allowing the budget deficit to extend to around 880 million US dollars or 5.9%.

However Mr O’Neill says that his government had always planned to run a deficit from last year until 2017.

He says people know his government’s strategy is working because the government is investing the deficit into key sectors like health, education, infrastructure and law and order.

“And that is starting to produce results. The outcomes.. in terms of education, we’ve got one million more kids in school; we’ve got healthcare facilities now being rolled out all throughout the country where people never saw medicines, nurses and doctors for the past 40 years; and the infrastructure of roads, ports and airports are being expanded all throughout the country.”

Related

PNG 2015 budget delivery hits snag

PNG national budget focuses most on infrastructure

Implementation of PNG budget to be closely scrutinised

Provinces to handle more funding after PNG national budget

Over half of PNG’s development budget loss to corrupt practices – taskforce.RNZI

16) PNG PM To Face Tribunal Over Misconduct Allegations
Retired New Zealand judge to lead inquiry into O’Neill

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 28, 2014) – A Leadership Tribunal has been appointed to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office made against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

It will be headed by a retired New Zealand judge Sir Peter Blanchard, who begins the inquiry on January 26 next year.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia yesterday announced his decision to appoint the tribunal following a request from the Public Prosecutor on November 14.

The allegations of misconduct in office are “that the Prime Minister failed to comply with administrative and financial processes, including the normal overseas borrowing process in the approval of a K3 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland AG (Australia branch) to purchase shares in Oil Search Limited”.

It was further alleged that the purchase of the shares was in the interest of Oil Search Limited and not the State.

Other members of the Blanchard Tribunal are retired Australian Federal Court judge John von Boussa and Justice Salatiel Lenalia.

Sir Salamo also announced an instrument formalising the tribunal appointment, its composition, the date, time and venue for the start of the inquiry, which are Monday, January 26, 2015, at 9.30am, Courtroom No 1 at the National Court building in Waigani.

Sir Salamo said the instrument also specifies that for the avoidance of doubt, pursuant to Section 142(6) of the Constitution, subject to which Section 28 of the Organic Law and Duties and Responsibilities is to be read, the question of suspension pending the inquiry will be determined by the tribunal in its discretion.

“The importance of the high office held by the PM O’Neill is the reason for the appointment of two imminent former judges of two developed common law jurisdictions and a senior Judge of the National and Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea,” Sir Salamo said.

PNG Post-Courier

17) Somare switches to middle bench

By Online Editor
7:29 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Papua New Guinea

-East Sepik Governor and former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare Thursday dropped a bombshell in Parliament, announcing that he will move to the middle benches because of dissatisfaction over many current issues.

Sir Michael did not clarify whether he was moving with his National Alliance MPs or as an Independent MP.

But one issue which he said made him leave the government benches was that he did not believe due process was followed resulting in a massive debt of more than K3 billion (US$1.1 billion). He announced his move while presenting his personal explanation for the people of PNG and the floor to take note.

“I wish to now advise Parliament, I will move to the middle benches beginning today, as I do not believe that due process was followed creating a massive debt of over K3 billion (US$1.1 billion),” he read from a prepared statement in Parliament.

“I have listened with much interest over the last two and a half years while debate has aired over the media about major decisions my government took regarding the commitment of our people’s present and future sovereign wealth fund.

“I would also like to reflect on the past decade of economic growth under my leadership as prime minister.

“I am pleased to say that I led a team of bright energetic politicians, who created a vibrant policy environment that fostered foreign and local business confidence.

“Businesses grew knowing that their immediate investments were protected due to fiscal certainty in the longer term and they delivered their projects in our country on time.

“I delivered a stable and conducive environment where heads of departments were communicating with their ministers and statutory heads of companies and CEOs of State-owned enterprises were able to grow their asset base and increase their revenue as they were able to interpret clearly articulated government policies and develop strategies to deliver targets that they had set, without fear or favour.

“It is in this context that I now emphasize the absolute need for our leaders not to squander the fruits of the seeds that were sown.”.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

18) Leadership tribunal for PNG PM to convene in January

Updated at 1:05 pm on 28 November 2014

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Details have firmed up over the leadership tribunal which Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has been referred to over allegations of misconduct in office.

The referral from the public prosecutor relates to three allegations over the cabinet’s decision to take out a state loan of 1.1 billion US dollars obtained from the Swiss bank UBS earlier this year.

The allegations centre on claims the Prime Minister didn’t follow the normal administrative process for securing and approving the loan.

The tribunal is to begin sitting on January 26th, will consist of three judges and have the power to dismiss, suspend or fine Mr O’Neill.

The former New Zealand Supreme Court judge Sir Peter Blanchard will chair the tribunal, which will also include Australian John von Doussa QC and Papua New Guinean judge Salatiel Lenalia.

Mr O’Neill says he wants to clear his name and has welcomed the referral to a leadership tribunal.

Related

PNG PM welcomes leadership tribunal referral

Polye takes UBS loan to PNG court

PNG Ombudsman puts halt on government loan deal.RNZI

19) Political Impasse Possible In Solomons Islands
Independents challenge Court ruling, hope to nominate candidate

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 27, 2014) – A Solomon Islands lawyer says the country could face a political impasse if independent MPs and unregistered political parties decide to field their own prime ministerial candidates.

Negotiations on the formation of possible coalitions are now underway in Honiara.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that ‘The former deputy prime minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Maelanga is reportedly in the running to become the country’s new prime minister. … The Island Sun newspaper says Mr Maelanga has taken over parliamentary leadership of the Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement after Gordon Darcy Lilo lost his seat in the election. … The paper says the party is likely to again join forces with the Democratic Alliance Party to try and form the new government.’]

The High Court has ruled that only registered parties can form governing coalitions but some independents have appealed the decision, claiming it is their constitutional right to nominate a candidate.

Charles Ashley, who is also the general secretary of one of the registered parties, the People’s Progressive Party, says a political impasse is likely if independents go ahead with their plan.

Radio New Zealand International 

20) Solomon Islands government takes shape

Updated at 7:40 pm on 29 November 2014

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A new government is taking shape in Solomon Islands, with four political parties agreeing to form a coalition.

The Solomon Star reports leaders of the Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement, Democratic Alliance Party, Solomon Islands People First Party and the Peoples’ Alliance Party have approved a coalition agreement.

The agreement will be submitted to the Political Parties Commission, with the coalition to be called the Solomon Islands People’s Democratic Coalition.

The parliamentary wing leader of Solomon Islands People First Party, Manasseh Maelanga, has described the agreement as historic, saying the parties have agreed to form the first government under the new Political Parties Act 2014.

The Registrar of Political Parties Commission, Calvin Ziru, says he is waiting to review the group’s Coalition Agreement before the Chairman of the Commission, Paul Tovua, submits it to the Governor General.

Upon receiving the agreement, Governor General Sir Frank Kabui will call Parliament for the election of the prime minister.RNZI

21) TI Vanuatu – latest scandal a sad chapter

Updated at 1:20 pm on 28 November 2014

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Transparency International Vanuatu says the alleged bribery scandal engulfing parliament is a sad chapter in the country’s history.

Parliament this week suspended 16 opposition MPs for allegedly contravening the Leadership Code by accepting money from the opposition leader Moana Carcasses.

Mr Carcasses has been lobbying support for a motion to topple the Prime Minister Joe Natuman.

The opposition leader says his deposits of as much as 10,000 US dollars into bank accounts of various MPs were intended as loans.

Transparency’s Dr Willy Tokon says the transferral of money between MPs around moves to change government are not uncommon.

“But it’s always been very hard to prove, so we’ve never brought anyone to task. But this time it seems like nobody is denying the fact that money transactions took place, they’re just trying to justify it and explain it. But whether people like it or not, a bribery is a bribery.”RNZI

22) Prasad Confirmed As Fiji Public Accounts Committee Chair
Opposition MP to lead scrutiny of 2007-2013 reports

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 28, 2014) – Fiji’s National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad has been appointed and confirmed as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee after some controversy at the first committee sitting in Suva today.

Secretary General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua was prompted to decide on the matter after no one moved to second Aseri Radrodro’s nomination of Prasad as PAC chairman.

Namosimalua who presided over the meeting consulted with UNDP officers who were there on procedures.

The UNDP was instrumental and assisted in the drawing up of the Fijian Parliament’s Standing Order.

After some discussions, Namosimalua returned to the committee to relay her decision, referring to the House of Reps practice Parliament of Australia as she endorsed Prasad as chairman “in accordance with rules of parliament.” “I have sought procedural advise on this on the basis of the voting system.

The election of the chairman is covered by Standing Order 117,” Namosimalua said.

The Standing Order does not state how the election should be carried out.

In such instances it is the Westminister’s practice to follow the standing order which sets out the process to elect a chairman.

“I remind members of Standing Order 2 that allows the Speaker or another member presiding to be guided by established practices of other legislative bodies of other jurisdiction that are similar in nature to parliament.

“In this case we referred to the House of Reps practice Parliament Australia which states that if only one member is nominated, as is usually the case, the secretary declares the member elected as chair and invites that member to take the chair.

“If more than one member is nominated then an election is conducted in accordance with the procedure set out in the Standing Order for the election of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and second Deputy Speaker far as they are applicable.

“It is therefore appropriate that the Parliament of Fiji also follows this practise.

Our standing order 17 covers the election of the speaker, and I draw members attention to paragraph 4 which states that any member may propose a person as speaker with the person’s prior consent and I also draw members attention to paragraph 6 which states that when a person is proposed that person is declared by the SG to have been declared.

“The PAC has therefore properly elected Dr Biman Prasad as chairman in accordance with the rules of this parliament.” The half-an-hour long sitting also saw the appointment of Government member Balmindar Singh as deputy chairman.

The appointments today also brought to an end days of tit-for-tat from both sides of parliament over the chairmanship.

Addressing the PAC as chair, Prasad said they have a huge task at hand to scrutinise the Auditor General’s reports for 2007 to 2013.

He made mention of the concerns highlighted by the Auditor General Tevita Bolavanua on reports of abuse of office, and procedures not being followed.

Prasad outlined the PAC meeting plans as well as powers they have to summon people to respond to concerns outlined by Bolavanua in his report.

He also reminded members about their responsibilities to table their findings in parliament and to the Fijian people.

The committee meeting has been adjourned till December 15 when they will begin their scrutiny of the Auditor General’s reports – at least for the years 2010 through 2013.

Meanwhile, Bolavanua and his staff from the Auditor General’s office was also in attendance.Fijitimes

23) Controversy in Biman Prasad appointment

By Online Editor
7:24 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad has been appointed and confirmed as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee after some controversy at the first committee sitting in Suva today.

Secretary General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua was prompted to decide on the matter after no one moved to second Aseri Radrodro’s nomination of Prasad as PAC chairman.

Namosimalua who presided over the meeting consulted with UNDP officers who were there on procedures.

The UNDP was instrumental and assisted in the drawing up of the Fijian Parliament’s Standing Order.

After some discussions, Namosimalua returned to the committee to relay her decision, referring to the House of Reps practice Parliament of Australia as she endorsed Prasad as chairman “in accordance with rules of parliament.”

“I have sought procedural advise on this on the basis of the voting system. The election of the chairman is covered by Standing Order 117,” Namosimalua said.

The Standing Order does not state how the election should be carried out. In such instances it is the Westminister’s practice to follow the standing order which sets out the process to elect a chairman.

“I remind members of Standing Order 2 that allows the Speaker or another member presiding to be guided by established practices of other legislative bodies of other jurisdiction that are similar in nature to parliament.

“In this case we referred to the House of Reps practice Parliament Australia which states that if only one member is nominated, as is usually the case, the secretary declares the member elected as chair and invites that member to take the chair.

“If more than one member is nominated then an election is conducted in accordance with the procedure set out in the Standing Order for the election of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and second Deputy Speaker far as they are applicable.

“It is therefore appropriate that the Parliament of Fiji also follows this practise. Our standing order 17 covers the election of the speaker, and I draw members attention to paragraph 4 which states that any member may propose a person as speaker with the person’s prior consent and I also draw members attention to paragraph 6 which states that when a person is proposed that person is declared by the SG to have been declared.

“The PAC has therefore properly elected Dr Biman Prasad as chairman in accordance with the rules of this parliament.”

The half-an-hour long sitting also saw the appointment of Government member Balmindar Singh as deputy chairman.

The appointments today also brought to an end days of tit-for-tat from both sides of parliament over the chairmanship.

Addressing the PAC as chair, Prasad said they have a huge task at hand to scrutinise the Auditor General’s reports for 2007 to 2013.

He made mention of the concerns highlighted by the Auditor General Tevita Bolavanua on reports of abuse of office, and procedures not being followed.

Prasad outlined the PAC meeting plans as well as powers they have to summon people to respond to concerns outlined by Bolavanua in his report. He also reminded members about their responsibilities to table their findings in parliament and to the Fijian people.

The committee meeting has been adjourned till December 15 when they will begin their scrutiny of the Auditor General’s reports – at least for the years 2010 through 2013.

Prasad said the decision to start deliberations from the 2010 report was because the previous PAC had prepared reports for the 2007 and 208 audit and also done some work on the 2009 report which would be made available to the PAC.

Meanwhile, Bolavanua and his staff from the Auditor General’s office was also in attendance.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

LAND

24) Land freeze

Shalveen Chand

Sunday, November 30, 2014

THERE is a freeze on development on land where there are mangroves, says Lands Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

Mrs Vuniwaqa made the statement during a public consultation on lands held at Albert Park in Suva yesterday.

A lot of issues were raised about foreshore development especially at Waibota and around Lami where mangroves have been cleared to make way for factories and warehouses.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said the Government had a mangrove management plan and this would become policy very soon.

She said there should be no development of foreshore land if mangroves were in the area.

“This is in relation to foreshore leases where mangroves are affected.

“What we have done is put a freeze on that because there is concern on the sustainability of the mangroves around Fiji,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

“There is a mangrove management plan that is there at the moment, once that becomes policy it will become part and parcel of every foreshore land lease.”

Residents of Lami and environmental groups questioned the Lands Minister and her team on why permit for development at Waibota was given and as there had been a negative impact on local ecosystem and the environment.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said Government was concerned about mangroves and the important part it played in Fiji.

She said her ministry would take to task those who do not adhere to the freeze on development regarding mangroves.Fijitimes

BUSINESS

25) Samoa and Vanuatu set up unique financing scheme for women business owners

By Online Editor
9:33 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Fiji

By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai

Small business owners in Samoa with no capital have at their disposal a loan guarantee scheme that can serve as a start-up capital for their businesses.

The guarantee scheme is an initiative of the government to assist small business owners with no collateral.

Administered by the Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC), the scheme provides the bank with a 100 percent guarantee of up to WST10, 000 (US$4,141) loan.

SBEC Director, Margaret Malua said any loan up to WST50, 000 (US$20,505), the centre can only provide an 80 percent guarantee to the bank.

“This scheme is very unique because it does not require any security. We have signed an MOU with all the banks in Samoa who recognise our loan guarantee scheme.

“To date, we have administered WST30 million in loans for small businesses, of which WST21.5 million (US$8.9 million) are guaranteed loans.

Malua, speaking at the Women In Business conference in Nadi Thursday shared the story of one of SBEC’s clients, a small business woman who took out loan of WST20, 000 (US$8,202) to buy a fishing boat. After her repayments she built a positive credit rating with the bank and has recently bought seven fishing boats.

“This scheme empowers clients, most of whom are women, to boldly make the first step to take a loan to start their business. For those that fail, we always try and get them up again during the recovery process, said Malua.

Over 65 percent of Samoa’s informal businesses are owned by women.

Samoa is a leading country in the Pacific where the government has provided an enabling environment for women to set up businesses. It has a strong and successful Women In Business organisation that is now reaching out to other Pacific Island Countries to support their activities.

In Vanuatu, a micro finance scheme set up in 1996 has benefited 7,300 clients, most of them women.
Vanwods Micro-finance scheme was set by the United Nations Development Programme in recognition of the challenges of access to capital for many women and small business owners.

“We don’t ask for any security or collateral. Our clients make use of this micro finance scheme but the repayment rate is 20 percent. This is high but we allow for lower interest on their savings with us. So it works both ways, explained Vanwod Micro Finance chief executive office, Julie-Ann Rovo.

The scheme loans from VT5, 000 (US$50) to a ceiling of VT150, 000 (US$1,514)

“We are mindful that our clients, who normally will not access funds from commercial banks, need the money to start and grow the business.

“We have seen some that have started with zero and have grown to become something, said Rovo.

The two women were panelists in a session titled, “Money is the lifeblood of a business and finance is the nerve centre.”.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

26) Potato variety sought

Geraldine Panapasa

Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE Ministry of Agriculture has plans to source potato seed materials for the red pontiac variety from Australia as it continues its efforts to boost local production.

Deputy permanent secretary Uraia Waibuta said 40 tonnes of seed material were imported this year for planting in April-May.

“All of that potato has been harvested. We used to import our seed material from New Zealand but because New Zealand is a temperate country, those seed materials were not conducive for Fiji.

“Towards the end of last year, we had sourced our seed material from Australia and that was the variety that was suitable to be planted in Fiji.

“When we wanted to source seed materials from Australia, it wasn’t enough because they were not producing that certain variety and had moved on to other varieties.

“We have requested if they could produce that variety again for us and that is the variety we will import next year for planting.”

He said farmers who harvested these potatoes sold them by the roadside because they were not produced on a large scale.

Potato is a seasonal crop planted during the cool months from April to November.Fijitimes

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT

27) Major tuna meeting in Samoa to determine future of $6 billion resource

By Online Editor
7:42 pm GMT+12, 27/11/2014, Fiji

All major tuna fishing nations will converge in Apia, Samoa next week to discuss the future of the resource.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting will discuss, amongst other things, the sustainability of an industry now valued at over US$6 billion.

In light of the growing dependence of Pacific island economies on the tuna industry, finding a way to sustain the resource is now critical.

For Fiji, the resource last year raked in just under $80 million (US$41 million) last year.

One of the biggest lobbying group at next weeks meeting will be the PNA or the Parties to the Nauru Agreement made up of countries like the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

Together, they controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna fisheries.

“PNA has led the conservation and management measures in the region for decades such as the FAD plans, 100 perent observor coverage, scientific sampling and also the Vessel Day scheme,” says the PNA’s Maurice Brownjohn.

But while there is widespread scepticism over the commitment of larger nations on conservation of the fisheries, it is also a question of balancing the science and the economics.

“The scientific advice provides an indication of the status of the stock. Increasingly we are also trying to provide economic advice and the consequences of various management decision. And there is also a social side that managemnts need to take into account,” says Dr Graham Pilling, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Senior Fisheries Scientist.

Pacific islands and distant water fishing nations have since been put on notice by the latest regional stock assessment that catches, particularly for bigeye, a tuna pursued by the Asian, American and European sashimi market, must be capped or reduced.

It will be up to next weeks meet to enforce that.

For Greenpeace, sustainability is now the keyword.

“It’s not a bad thing that we are wanting to get more money for our fisheries. But the level in which the tuna stocks are at, that needs to be the primary objective,” says Greenpeace campaigner Lagi Toribau.

The recent decision by Kiribati to place a limit on US vessels fishing in its Exclusive Economic Zone is a clear reminder that despite our size, small island Pacific nations can still determine the future of its tuna fisheries resource.

SOURCE: FIJI TV/PACNEWS

EVENTS

28) PNG’s Baki says funding shortfall will impact events

Updated at 11:42 am on 29 November 2014

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The Chief of the National Intelligence Organisation in Papua New Guinea Gari Baki says his organisation will struggle to provide services for the many international events being staged in the country.

Mr Baki says he is not happy that its been allocated around 4 million US dollars less than he requested from government.

He says the shortfall will affect operations.

Gary Baki says this is particularly concerning because PNG is about to host the Pacific Games, the 2016 Pacific Forum Leaders meeting, the 2017 national elections and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Summit in 2018.

“Papua New Guinea’s at the doorstep of Australia. Australia now is the subject of terrorism. There’s so many activities happening in Australia and for one to think that nothing of that kind of nature could happen in Papua New Guinea, it’s an understatement. We need to really prepare ourselves for anything, much bigger than what is expected.”

Prime Minister Peter O’Neil says PNG does not have terrorism issues.RNZI

29) Miss Botswana crowned World Supermodel

By SHALVEEN CHAND

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Update: 2:28PM A FITTING finale for the World Supermodel pageant as the rain held up and the beautiful Miss Botswana, Nature Inger, was crowned the winner.

With the rain experienced in the day, organisers were told to consider moving the crowning indoors .

However, everything turned out for the better.

World Supermodel chief executive Gavin Dooley said Fiji was proving to be a very good host.

He said the event was held at the Pearl in Pacific Harbour for the fourth consecutive year and they would love to be back.Fijitimes

SPORTS

30) PNG aims to better ranking

Emoni Narawa

Sunday, November 30, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea aims to improve its ranking in Oceania Basketball.

That will be only possible if they did well at the FIBA under-19 Oceania Basketball Championship which commences at the Vodafone Arena in Suva tomorrow.

“We’re currently ranked seventh and we want to better that ranking,” team manager Dickson Omaro said.

“During the last Oceania in Melbourne, our men’s team finished seventh and the women’s side finished fifth. Our target coming into this tournament is to hopefully improve that.”

Omaro said despite basketball being a minor sport back home, they had selected the best team. He added most players in the men’s team features in the PNG Basketball Elite League.

“We got a good team here. Some of the boys in this team have been playing in our PNG elite league for the past three seasons. Hopefully we will deliver.”

PNG is drawn in Pool B with New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tahiti, American Samoa and Fiji. The side takes on New Zealand in their opening pool match on Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to our first game. It’s important that we make a good start in our campaign.”

The side plays American Samoa in its second game, Tahiti and Fiji in its last pool game on Thursday.Fijitimes

31) Fiji cricket coach seeking improvement

Updated at 10:39 am on 29 November 2014

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2015 is shaping up as a busy year for Fiji Cricket and coach Shane Jurgensen says all of their national teams are capable of lifting their games.

The Fiji men’s team earned promotion to World Cricket League 6 during the week after beating Samoa by nine wickets in the East Asia Pacific playoff.

Jurgensen says fitness played a big part in their success but says that will be tested next year amidst a packed calendar.

“That exposure for more cricket: World Cricket League, Pacific Games next year, Under 19s, women’s programme – I think that’s probably the area we need to continue to work on is when we come against those really really good teams, that period where the game is sort of in the balance and what’s the next best decision to do when we’re bowling [or] what’s the next best decision to do when we’re batting and controlling that situation and that’s something we will have to keep working on next year”.

Shane Jurgensen.RNZI

32) Wallabies complete European tour

AAP

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Update: 5:07PM THE Wallabies have completed their worst European tour in almost a decade after being overpowered by England 26-17 in their season-ending Test at Twickenham.

Australia fought hard in a classic two-tries-apiece encounter played in front of more than 82,031 fans on Sunday morning, but the dominance of England’s almighty scrum proved too much to handle.

England number eight Ben Morgan scored tries in either half, with both coming on the back of attacking scrums with the home side’s backs capitalising on their forwards’ dominance with a smart kicking game.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had played down the significance of England’s set-piece prior to the match but it remains a serious area of concern ahead of the sides meeting in the group stage at next year’s World Cup.

Cheika, who took the job only three days before the tour, now heads into a World Cup year trying to reverse the fortunes of an Australia side which have lost six of their past seven Tests.

As in last week’s three-point defeat to Ireland, there were many positives for Australia, which was willing to run the ball from everywhere on the field with centre Matt Toomua again impressive and skipper Michael Hooper typically giving his all.

The Wallabies’ tries came through five-eighth Bernard Foley and substitute Will Skelton but the defeat means they have lost three Tests on a spring tour for the first time since 2005.

Australian players wore black armbands as a mark of respect following the death of Phillip Hughes, while Twickenham stood for a minute’s applause prior to kickoff to honour the late cricketer.

England led 13-3 after an entertaining first half which featured some high-quality attacking rugby.

The Wallabies looked dangerous with the ball in hand but both sides blew early chances through poor execution.

Five-eighth George Ford, starting his second Test, put England up 6-3 with a long-range penalty after Ben McCalman’s late hit on Mike Brown as Australia came under increasing pressure up front.

The set-piece dominance led to the first try in the 28th minute after Israel Folau, who was otherwise impressive, fumbled a kick return near his own line and Morgan crashed over two phases after a charging scrum.

Australia’s persistence with running rugby paid dividends shortly after the break when Foley scored under the posts after an excellent one-two with winger Rob Horne.

It was to be Foley’s final contribution however, as he was subbed after converting his try and replaced by Quade Cooper.

Half-back Nick Phipps followed Foley off the bench soon after with Brumbies number nine Nic White getting his first Test appearance on tour at a vital moment.

Just as Australia looked to have the momentum, its scrum woes resurfaced.

Cooper was caught in-goal and the Wallabies were powerless to stop England from five metres with Morgan crashing over for his second five-pointer.

The Wallabies hit back quickly with huge lock Skelton crashing over from close range just minutes after being subbed on.

Cheika tried to add another attacking spark in Kurtley Beale but England’s forwards stayed on top by using both brain and brawn.

33) Samoa Players Call For Samoa Rugby Union Funding Freeze
SRU, Chairman, PM Tuilaepa ignoring concerns

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 27, 2014) – Manu Samoa rugby players have called for a freeze on funding to the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U) until its crisis is resolved.

They also want World Rugby, formerly the International Rugby Board (I.R.B) to send a delegation to Samoa to meet with the Union.

The call was made by the Players representative, Daniel Leo, during an interview with Radio LiveSport in New Zealand, yesterday.

It is the latest development in the ongoing fight between the players and the Union’s management over a range of issues, including financial transparency and playing conditions.

It has also been suggested a player was threatened as they voiced their concerns.

A Samoan boycott of last week’s test against England in London was averted and the players have now disbanded and returned to their clubs.

But it’s clear the issue is still simmering.

That’s despite Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is also the Samoa Rugby Union chairman, telling TV One News in New Zealand that the situation had been resolved.

Read more; Samoa Observer

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