Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1062 ( Wednesday 14 January 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) Vanuatu daily news digest | 14 January 2015


by bobmakin

  • Fuel prices fall everywhere except in Vanuatu was Daily Post’s noteworthy headline today. Petrol prices are falling in nearby countries (especially Australia and Fiji) points out Ricky Binihi in his cover article. In Australia the price for unleaded petrol fell to a four-year low. Fiji announced a drop in oil prices just before Christmas. Most importantly, however, the price of crude oil (which determines the various petroleum product base prices) has dropped significantly throughout the world. New Zealand had its twentieth consecutive price drop in October. But in Vanuatu the price remains the same. Daily Post tried to have meaningful contact with Pacific Petroleum in the matter, but those concerned are away on leave. Never-the-less persons close to the industry say they expect fuel prices to drop at the end of the month. The reply of Pacific Petroleum will be eagerly awaited by motorists.
  • Today’s Post also carries an article on the transmission difficulties being experienced by national and leading broadcasters in the region, their technology becoming antiquated. Even when new technology was supplied as, here, by Australia and Britain – more particularly Radio Australia and the BBC – it will pass its optimal working life span and then the operating broadcasting organisation needs to update. As previously stated in this Digest, people at North Efate have been disappointed by Radio Vanuatu’s inability to maintain round-the-clock maintenance of the medium wave transmission, especially now it is the cyclone season. They all left short wave reception behind decades ago. VBTC has fortunately shown it is trying to get its house in order. However, the Daily Post story suggests an ongoing refusal to accept any reduction in radio coverage if this means compromise with digital for television… And just about everyone wants the Radio Australia and BBC radio channels back where they were. What the VBTC Board might say in this regard will be eagerly awaited by listeners.

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | World Bank on the falling oil price

by bobmakin

  • World Bank: despite ‘fragile’ global economy, low oil prices to spur recovery in developing countries
  • [However, for Vanuatu, read the next Vanuatu daily news digest in about an hour]
  • WASHINGTON, 14 JANUARY 2015 (UN NEWS CENTRE) —- After an economically disappointing 2014, developing countries can expect an uptick in growth in the new year as soft oil prices, a stronger United States economy, and continued low global interest rates help fuel their recovery, according to a new flagship study issued by the World Bank Group.
  • The biannual Global Economic Prospects report, released today, projects a global economic expansion of 3 per cent for 2015, 3.3 per cent for 2016, and 3.2 per cent in 2017 – a boost following last year’s anaemic 2.6 per cent growth.
  • At the same time, the report adds, developing countries are expected to surge from last year’s 4.4 per cent growth to 4.8 per cent in 2015 and then strengthen to a more robust 5.4 per cent by 2017.
  • “In this uncertain economic environment, developing countries need to judiciously deploy their resources to support social programs with a laser-like focus on the poor and undertake structural reforms that invest in people,” explained World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a news release marking the report’s launch.
  • “It’s also critical for countries to remove any unnecessary roadblocks for private sector investment,” Kim continued. “The private sector is by far the greatest source of jobs and that can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”
  • Despite the positive developments, the report paints a largely mixed picture depicting both the growing momentum of economic activity in the United States and the United Kingdom amid healing labour markets and a stuttering recovery in the Eurozone and Japan.
  • In addition, a number of risks continue to overshadow the potential of full global recovery, particularly weak global trade, possible financial market volatility, the strain low oil prices will place on oil-producing countries, and the risk of prolonged stagnation or deflation in the Eurozone or Japan.
  • “Worryingly, the stalled recovery in some high-income economies and even some middle-income countries may be a symptom of deeper structural malaise,” cautioned Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President. “As population growth has slowed in many countries, the pool of younger workers is smaller, putting strains on productivity.”
  • Nevertheless, Basu added, there are “some silver linings behind the clouds.” “The lower oil price, which is expected to persist through 2015, is lowering inflation worldwide and is likely to delay interest rate hikes in rich countries. This creates a window of opportunity for oil-importing countries, such as China and India,” he said, noting the World Bank’s expectations for India’s growth to rise to 7 per cent by 2016.
  • The developing world and large middle-income countries are, in fact, expected to benefit from lower oil prices. In Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey, the fall in oil prices will help lower inflation and reduce current account deficits. Meanwhile, exporting countries, such as Russia, can expect their economies to contract as a result, prompting opportunities for wide-scale structural reforms.
  • “Lower oil prices will lead to sizeable real income shifts from oil-exporting to oil-importing developing countries,” said Ayhan Kose, Director of Development Prospects at the World Bank.“For both exporters and importers, low oil prices present an opportunity to undertake reforms that can increase fiscal resources and help broader environmental objectives.”…PACNEWS

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 13 January 2015

by bobmakin

  • The depression south-west of the Solomons was commented on in Radio Vanuatu News just now, after word from the Meteo Office, as unlikely to develop into a cyclone.
  • A small drop of political news today … The newly appointed Secretary General of the Green Confederation, Jeremie Noar, says that MP Toara Daniel is the new President of the Greens, and MP Silas Yatan the Vice President. This is particularly interesting because neither name appears on the YTS list of those alleged to have received a million vatu from former party president Carcasses. The case is to be heard in the courts. MP Moana Carcasses remains the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament the SG says. (Daily Post)
  • Justice DG Mark Bebe is reported in Post today as asking the newly appointed acting Public Prosecutor, John William Timakata, to ensure people who commit crimes are not dealt with lightly. Often the prosecution has been weak, allowing the offender to bypass the real punishment deserved, said Bebe. Both the DG and Justice Minister have expressed confidence in the new PP.
  • Crime reporting continues this week. The eight suspects from South Santo in the 1 January church arson case will now appear in the Magistrates Court on 29 January. Four houses were also burned down according to VBTC News.
  • Sniffer dogs to combat increasing drug usage and trans-shipment are to be introduced by the police. They will be used here at airports as well as wharves as there seems to a substantial trade in marijuana arriving from other islands Radio Vanuatu reports.
  • Daily Post details a judgement which deals with a wife receiving a decision for VT 10 million damages after her husband cut off one hand and severely damaged the other.
  • Good news? Yes, Mele fishermen led by Dominique Govan would have won half a million vatu from mackerel caught off Mele at the weekend. News of the size of the catch quite quickly got out and people came from everywhere in the capital to buy strings of fish, Bon Marché too. (Daily Post)

4) Fiji Opposition Rejects Funding Scheme For Parliamentary Offices
Ro Teimumu says system designed to benefit FijiFirst party only


SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 14, 2015) – Fijian Opposition has rejected a system of funding introduced by the Secretary General to the Parliament of Fiji for the offices of the three parliamentary parties saying it is designed to favour the FijiFirst Government Party.

The funding system allocates $15,000 per MP per annum and has also resulted in the termination of all parties’ parliamentary offices’ support staff Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa claims the funding system was imposed on them “without consultation and with less than 48 hours notice before implementation.”

In line with the allocation which came into effect from January 1, FijiFirst with 32 members collects a $480,000-budget a year, SODELPA with 15 has $225,000 and National Federation Party (NFP) with three MPs, to work with a $45,000 allocation.

In a letter dated January 8 and addressed to the secretary generals’ of the three parties, Secretary General to the Parliament of Fiji Viniana Namosimalua advised them on the new funding allocation and her decision to revoke the appointments of all political parties’ support staff in their respective parliamentary offices saying “that political parties in parliament will no longer be provided with established civil service positions for their parliamentary offices.”

She further advised that it would be the responsibility of parties to engage their own staff for their political party offices with the rationale “that the running of parliamentary offices of political parties is separate from the responsibilities and functions of the elected Government. Therefore, resources provided to parliamentary offices of political parties are separate to the Executive and the day-to-day running of government.”

Namosimalua further said the parliament would continue to provide the offices’ with support in respect of utility costs, morning tea/meals, stationary, cleaning and supply of appropriate equipment.”

The S-G’s decision has since left 12 people out of a job – two from FijiFirst, six from SODELPA and four from NFP – after their employment was terminated last Friday, January 9.

“This is unacceptable,” Ro Teimumu said.

“The entire episode is not parliamentary democracy. It is parliamentary dictatorship.

“There is no rational explanation of the Secretary-General’s decision to make such a dramatic change in parliamentary procedures established to ensure proper checks and balances, accountability and transparency.”

In a letter, dated January 9, by Ro Teimumu to Namosimalua, the leader of the opposition said “it’s not difficult to see that the FijiFirst will be the major benefactors with $480,000 per annum being paid into their bank account to fund their parliamentary office that only has two staff, because only 12 backbenchers utilise it some of the time as the other 20 ministers are Ministers and Assistant Minister and their costs are covered by government.”

Under the new arrangement, each MP has a weekly budget of between $283 and $288 to work with.

And over a four-year term under the same arrangement, FijiFirst collects a budget of close to $1.9million, SODELPA with $900,000 and NFP, $180,000.

Comments are being sought from Namosimalua and leader of Government in Parliament Pio Tikoduadua.

Fijilive 

POLYNESIA

5) New Caledonia court hears Wallis fraud appeal ( Educational: New Caledonia is a Melanesian Island Nation, Though lots of Wallis & Futuna Islanders live in it, from Polynesia )

13 January 2015

The appeal court in New Caledonia is this week hearing the case of ten people convicted of fraud in Wallis and Futuna last year.

A total of 16 people were found guilty in August of defrauding the French government of millions of US dollars in what is being described as the worst ever abuse of the relevant French investment law.

They had been found to present inflated bills and abuse the tax benefits aimed at boosting investment in French overseas territories in 2007 and 2008.

A former New Caledonia-based police officer, Marc Revault, was given a five year jail sentence, a 670,000 US dollar fine and had his possessions confiscated.

His partner, Jean-Marc Etchebarre, was given the same sentence.

Among those convicted is the former secretary of the territorial assembly, Setefano Tafono.

Several business leaders in Wallis and Futuna were also implicated in the scams that amounted to more than 27 million US dollars.

The trial followed a probe which was called after the number of companies involved in public works inexplicably multiplied and purported investments in hotels were found to be non-existent.

The appeal court hearing is expected to last three days.RNZI

6) Some Tonga flights resuming despite volcano

14 January 2015

Some flights into the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa have resumed despite a plume of smoke reaching 6,000 metres in the air billowing out of Hunga Ha’apai.

An Air New Zealand flight scheduled to land in Nuku’alofa this morning had to return to Auckland because of the volcanic activity, but a Virgin Australia flight was able to land this afternoon.

Domestic flights to Vava’u and Ha’apai from Nuku’alofa have been cancelled.

The Chief Executive Officer of Tonga Airports, Viliami Ma’ake, says provided the volcanic activity remains stable, an Air New Zealand flight scheduled to arrive tonight should be able to land.

“The Virgin Australia flight from Sydney just landed at Fua’amotu. The approach was from the west, south west, but the volcano is to the north west. So the activity seems to stay concentrated within the area, an 8 nautical mile radius within the point of eruption.”RNZI

7) American Samoa government still owes millions to Power Authority

14 January 2015

The American Samoa Government is continuing to work on paying down the millions of dollars it owes to the American Samoa Power Authority.

The Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the previous balance of the debt was 8.7 million US dollars, but has decreased down to just over 8.3 million US dollars due to on time payments.

Lolo says that his administration continues to work on paying down the utility debt owed to the government owned power authority.

He says one of the biggest usage of electricity is the Department of Education, and cash power meters have been installed at all 50 public school facilities in an effort to cut down on electric waste.

Lolo says schools are now realising the savings through the use of debit meters, and he encourages all government agencies to continue to conserve energy.RNZI

8) American Samoa processing plant to open by July

14 January 2015

A 106-millon US dollar food processing plant in American Samoa is planned to be up and running by the middle of the year.

The government has approved plans by Filipino company AVM Bernardo Engineering to build a plant that will initially process fish but then expand to other food products.

Our correspondent Monica Miller says the project, set to provide about 700 jobs, will be a boost for the territory which lost the Samoa Packing cannery in 2009.

She says work on the site at Tafuna Industrial Park will get underway shortly.

“The company is quite confident that it can set this plant up very quickly and that it should be in operation in a couple of months time. The ground-breaking is planned for some time this month. They say that this apparently is their forte that they go in and set up food manufacturing plants so they’ve got a lot of expertise in this area and they hope to get it up and going before June/July.”RNZI

9) Creation Of French Polynesia Land Court Approved By Paris
Hundreds of pending disputes to hopefully move ahead

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 14, 2015) – The French justice ministry has approved the creation of a French Polynesian land court aimed at dealing with hundreds of pending disputes.

This was announced by the president of the territory’s court of appeal who hailed the planned hiring of two judges as an exceptional move in view of budget constraints.

The court is to be set up late this year but is not expected to be operational before next year.

Hundreds of cases have been dealt with by the lower courts, with about 900 now before the court of appeal.

Its president says at times a case involves 150 concerned parties.

The Indigenous Customary Council has widely rejected the colonial land tenure system, saying land matters should be in the hands of indigenous people.

It says the 1880 treaty with France, which was meant to leave land matters untouched, has not been abrogated.

10) Nine French nuclear test veterans to get compensation

14 January 2015

The administrative appeal court in the French city of Bordeaux has given nine former nuclear test veterans the right to be compensated by the state for damage to their health.

Their case had first been heard last year when their lawyers challenged the terms of the 2010 compensation law, which has been widely criticised as being too restrictive.

The claimants had served in Algeria and French Polynesia between 1960 and 1996 where France tested its atomic weapons.

So far only a handful of claims out of more than 800 have been accepted since the law came into effect, but the lawyer says the decision reached in Bordeaux could set a precedent and prompt unsuccessful claimants to resubmit their case.

In November, the French Polynesian assembly passed a resolution asking France to pay compensation for the environmental damage caused by its nuclear weapons tests.RNZI

Radio New Zealand International 

11) Cooks Democratic Party Confident Of Victory In By-Election
Opposition coalition focuses on winning, not forming government


By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 13, 2015) – Democratic Party coalition is certain they have what it takes to win, potentially gaining the ability to form a new Government.

That’s according to One Cook Islands party leader Teina Bishop, who says he is confident they will win the Vaipae-Tautu by-election on February 17.

“I wouldn’t be wasting my time if I didn’t think we would win.”

Bishop is also campaign manager for coalition candidate Kete Ioane, and says the coalition will be officially launching their campaign on Wednesday with a rally at Ioane’s home in Aitutaki.

“The rally will be about informing our supporters of the issues we will face in the upcoming by-election.”

On January 28 the coalition will hold a night market in Aitutaki to rally support, he says.

“People don’t want to go to meetings anymore, they want food and celebrations.”

At present the coalition is focusing on the by-election rather than on the possibility of forming a Government, he says.

As for the controversial investigation into Bishop’s activities which dates from his time as Minister of Marine Resources, he says he hopes it will come to an end soon, for the sake of his family.

Bishop is currently the subject of an enquiry by law enforcement officials, who are looking into allegations of bribery and corruption.

The investigation was launched in July 2013. Authorities are looking Bishop’s relationship with a foreign fishing entity called Huanan Fishery (Cook Islands) Company, a subsidiary of Luen Thai Fishing Venture.

“I’ll have my day in Court if I have to,” he says.

The coalition has named Teina Bishop as its leader should they be able to form a Government, which would make him Prime Minister.

The need for another by-election in the Aitutaki seat of Vaipae-Tautu is the result of a long-awaited Court of Appeal judgement issued by Judge Williams in the High Court recently.

Education Minister and Cook Islands Party member Moana Ioane faced a petition and subsequent appeal from the Democratic Party’s Kete Ioane.

Judge Williams said the Court of Appeal had declared Moana Ioane’s election victory void after it was found he had bribed one of the voters.

Cook Islands News

MICRONESIA

12) CNMI to enter new chapter in its history – Inos

14 January 2015 

The Governor of the Northern Marianas, Eloy Inos, says his new administration will usher in a new chapter in history as the islands look to take advantage of billions of dollars in new investment and a growing tourism industry.

Governor Inos is alluding to the 7.1-billion US dollar integrated casino resort development of Best Sunshine on Saipan, the 360-million US dollar golf and casino resort of Alter City Group on Tinian and the 130-million US dollar hotel resort of Honest Profit in San Antonio.

He also vowed to build more hotel rooms for the again-thriving tourism industry and promised the CNMI people improved healthcare facilities and services and lower utility bills.

Governor Inos says this will be done while continuing to support the Northern Marianas College and Public School System, which are key for continued economic growth.RNZI

CNMI Governor Calls For Direct Talks With U.S.
Militarization of islands, use of airport among issues needing discussion

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 13, 2015) – The newly inaugurated Governor of the Northern Marianas, Eloy Inos, says one of his first jobs will be to make a formal request to the US President Barack Obama on special talks between the two governments.

Mr Inos says he will ask the President to appoint his representative for the talks, known as 902 consultations, allowed for under CNMI’s Covenant with the United States.

The Governor says many issues need to be addressed.

Expected to be discussed are a plan by the US Department of Defence to use the international airport on Saipan as an alternative airfield and the militarisation of the islands of Tinian and Pagan.

My Inos says he is confident of spirited discussion and many agreements which demonstrate CNMI’s willingness to be an equal partner with the US, at the same time preserving the territory’s values and culture.

Radio New Zealand International 

TOK PISIN

13) PNG pipal imas noken raon long taem nogut

Updated 14 January 2015, 13:26 AEDT

Caroline Tiriman

PNG provinsal polis komanda itok ol pipal ino ken sikirap long moni na lusim laif blong ol long solwara.

Odio: Western Provins Provinsal Polis komanda Chief Superintendent Silva Sika itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Ol pipal blong ol Maritime provinces blong Papua New Guinea imas lukautim gut laif blong ol na noken tingting tumas long moni.

Provincial Police Commander long Western Provins, Chief Inspekta  Silva Sika i mekim despla asking bihaen long wanpla man ibin lus long ol solwara tupla wik igo pinis.

Chief Inspector Sika itok, PNG iwok long bungim ol bikpla win, ren na taem nogut nau na  ol pipal imas noken raon long solwara.

Long wik igo pinis, wanpla Navy balus blong Australia ibin halvim long painim wanpla ten wan pipal husat ibin lus long ol solwara namel long Manus na Madang provins. Oli bin go long baem buai long Manus.

Chief Inspector Sika itok  olsem despla man emi bin lus long Gulf provins ibin go wantem tripla narapla man long baem buai , taem bot blong ol ibin kapsaet na go insaet long solwara.

Chief Inspector Sika itok tu olsem ol pipal imas harim tok blong weather sevis na tu ol laen igo pas long ol gavman taem oli harim tok lukaut long ol bikpla ren, win na taem nogut.Radio Australia

14) Vanuatu imas kalabusim ol Criminal:Meri lida itok

Updated 14 January 2015, 13:32 AEDT

Caroline Tiriman

Wanpla Human Rights activist long Vanuatu i askim strong gavman long hariap na givim ol strongpla mekimsave long ol pipal em oli save brukim loa blong kantri.

Odio: Jenny Ligo husat igo pas long Women Against Crime long Vanuatu itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Wanpla Human Rights activist long Vanuatu i askim strong gavman long hariap na givim ol strongpla mekimsave long ol pipal em oli save brukim loa blong kantri.

Jenny Ligo i mekim despla toktok bihaenim ol bikpla Crime iwok long go antap long Vanuatu. Emi tok planti criminal istap raon nating long communiti na oli no stap long kalabus.

Long wik igo pinis, Polis long Santo ibin kalabusim 8pla man long wonem oli sutim tok long ol long kukim wanpla haus lotu long fire.

Long 2014 polis ibin kalabusim tu sampla pipal long kilim nating ol narapla long wonem oli sutim tok long ol olsem ol posin laen.

Mrs Ligo itok  olsem despla gutpla mak olsem ol pipal blong Vanuatu em ol peaceful na happy pipal ino tru moa.Radio Australia

FRENCH

14) Brèves du Pacifique – mercredi 14 janvier 2015

Mis à jour 14 January 2015, 20:26 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

Manus:  15 migrants se seraient cousus les lèvres, et 400 migrants seraient en grève de la faim. 

C’est ce qu’affirme la Coalition d’Action pour les Réfugiés, la principale ONG australienne de défense des migrants. Mais le gouvernement australien dément. Toujours selon la Coalition d’Action pour les Réfugiés, les demandeurs d’asile auraient commencé leur grève de la faim pour protester contre leurs conditions de vie, après un problème technique sur le réseau de distribution d’eau dans le centre. La plupart d’entre eux ont déjà passé 18 mois enfermés à Manus. Et leurs dossiers n’ont toujours pas été examinés. 

  •  Tonga: un vol d’Air New Zealand a du faire demi-tour vers Auckland, en raison des fumées libérées par le volcan sous-marin Hunga Ha’apai. Le nuage de fumées attaint 6000 mètres. Certains vols intérieurs restent annulés. Mais cet après-midi un vol Virgin Australia a pu se poser dans la capitale tongienne.
  •  Vanuatu: à Port-Vila, le soulagement fut de courte durée. La pénurie de kava s’installe. Une cargaison de kava est bien arrivée de Pentecôte dans la capitale vanuataise vendredi dernier. Las, 100 saca de kava, c’était trop peu. Les propriétaires des bars ont fait la queue pour acheter ce kava, mais beaucoup sont repartis bredouille et leurs bars restent fermés. En cause: l’interruption du service des ferries vers Pentecote pendant la période des vacances. La prochaine livraison de kava est attendue ce week-end dans la capitale vanuatias. Radio Australia

PASIFIK

15) Matson Lowers Fuel Surcharge For North Pacific Shipments
Falling oil prices reduce costs to Guam, Hawaii, CNMI, Micronesia

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 14, 2015) – Falling oil prices mean it soon will be cheaper to ship things to Guam — savings as high as $140 per shipping container.

Matson yesterday announced it will lower its fuel surcharge for service to Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia, effective Sunday.

The fuel surcharge for Guam and the CNMI will drop from 36 percent to 32 percent, according to Matson. The surcharge for Hawaii will drop from 35.5 percent to 31.5 percent, and the surcharge for Micronesia will drop from 41 percent to 37 percent.

Highs and lows

According to news files, Matson’s fuel surcharge was as low as 23.25 percent, in early 2011, but rose dramatically the following year, to as high as 49 percent.

Last year’s high was 43 percent, in June, but it started to drop later in the year, according to news files.

“We are pleased to be able to make another downward adjustment to our fuel surcharge, which for most customers represents a reduction in shipping costs ranging from $80 to $140 per container,” said Dave Hoppes, senior vice president, ocean services, for Matson.

“This is the third consecutive decrease we have made to our Hawaii and Guam/CNMI fuel surcharges; with this latest reduction, our fuel surcharge for those services will have dropped 11 percentage points since Nov. 2, 2014. We continue to be encouraged by the recent moderation in bunker fuel prices, and remain focused on diligently exploring ways in which we can maximize fuel efficiency for our fleet. Matson has made a practice of giving 30-day notice for upward rate adjustments, but passes on downward adjustments to our customers as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor fuel costs and adjust the surcharge accordingly.”

Pacific Daily News 

HEALTH

16) Nursing college gets scholarships from Aust

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 By REBECCA KUKU
THE Enga College of Nursing has received Australian nursing awards for the 2015 academic year.
A total of 22 students will have their fees paid by the Australian Government under the nursing award scholarships.
Governor Peter Ipatas said: “The Australian awards officials visited the province last year and have awarded 22 Australian nursing scholarshps to first-year students at this college.”
The Enga Nursing College, which was closed for more than 10 years due to tribal fights, reopened last year.
This will be its second year of operations.
Ipatas said it was a success for the province as the nursing college received the 22 awards in only its second year.
He said the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs had approved K4.3 million for infrastructure development at the college.
“The PNG Government will be giving K2.2 million to assist with the building of infrastructure for the nursing college as well,” Ipatas said.
He added with the Government’s tuition-fee free education policy, the number of students had increased and more schools and tertiary institutions had to be built to cater for them. 
“My aim now is to build more schools and tertiary institutes in the province to cater for the surplus of students so that they can receive quality learning,” he said.
Ipatas thanked the Australian Government for their partnership and for awarding the scholarships to the college.

17) Hospital sends staff for specialist training

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 SIX Port Moresby General Hospital specialist nursing staff left for Singapore yesterday to attend training on cardiothoracic nursing care.
PMGH chief executive officer Grant Muddle said the specialist training was a milestone in the on-going improvement of training and education at the country’s premier hospital.
He said it was part of the on-going working partnership between the hospital, the Health Department, the Operation Open Heart programme and SingHealth.
“This programme is an intensive training programme to enhance and improve their skills,” Muddle said in a statement yesterday.
“These hand-picked nursing staff are part of the specialist’s training team that will support the Operation Open Heart (OOH) programme in Port Moresby. 
“On their return, they will have the new skills required to allow PMGH to begin the process to start additional open-heart operations at the hospital.” 
He said the training programme aimed to bring the nursing unit staff of PMGH to a level that would allow for year-round open-heart procedures. Muddle said the six specialist nurses were selected on their experience and dedication at PMGH. 
They are Sr Hilda Simeon – Intensive Care Unit (14 years of service at PMGH); Sr Loa Erehe – Intensive Care Unit (three years); Sr Wendy Done – High Dependency Unit (17 years); Sr Jocelyn Salo – High Dependency Unit (three years); Sr Jacklyn Eric – Operating Theatre (nine years); and Sr Ubuna Dat – Operating Theatre (14 years).
Muddle said: “These staff are very deserving of this opportunity, and I know they will work hard and gain the new skills to assist in the development of the Operation Open Heart programme at the hospital. 
“I am very confident that these new skills will be shared in a structured teaching process with other nursing staff here. 
“The new skills they will gain across pre-, intra-, and post-cardiothoracic nursing care will be invaluable in the hospital achieving our strategic goal of becoming a global standard health facility.”

EDUCATION

18) Students learn to fight alcohol, drug abuse

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 A GROUP of 21 students at a seminary have completed a course on how to combat alcohol and drug abuse.
The Martin Luther Seminary has been running courses for new students. The 21 received their certificates after the eight-week course organised by Reverend Sere Muhuyu of the Social Concerns Office from the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Muhuyu said he was pleased that these students were able to give their time to do the extracurricular course. He said he was willing to conduct more courses this year as it was one way of combating drug-related problems by educating young people on the issue.
Hans Gwaiko, one of the participants, said the students were glad to be able to attend such a course because consumption of alcohol and drugs was a major problem in communities today. He said it was good for students to engage in such courses and an opportunity for them to help people deal with drug-related problems.  
Gwaiko said there was a need for students to take up further courses on the topic.

19) Teacher graduates to get jobs

Torika Chandra
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Update: 4:59PM THE Minister for Education, Dr Mahendra Reddy has confirmed that more than 600 teacher graduates will be absorbed into the primary and secondary system from next week.

Dr Reddy said this would help address the teacher-student ratio issue which has been a problem in the past years.Fijitimes

POLITIC

20) NFP calls Fiji parliamentary funding cut a disaster

14 January 2015

The leader of the opposition National Federation Party in Fiji says surprising new changes to parliamentary funding are a disaster for the NFP.

Fiji’s Members of Parliament

Photo: Fiji Department of Information

Biman Prasad says the Secretary-General to Parliament has revoked the employment of his four administrative staff because of a funding system put in place by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Prasad says the new system gives parties just over 11,000 US dollars per MP for staffing and that is not enough.

He also says the Secretary-General is meant to decide on operational parliamentary finances and no-one else.

“We’ve lost staff and we feel that this is a direct interference in the independence of the legislature. It is designed to kill and harass smaller parties like the National Federation Party. What this amounts to is that we cannot now operate effectively and efficiently as a political party.”

Mr Biman Prasad says he will also not be able to carry out his duties as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee properly under the new staffing plan.RNZI

21) SODELPA Leader says Fiji Parliament funding change illegal

14 January 2015

The Fiji opposition leader says changes to the party funding system are illegal and have plunged the parliament into crisis.

The leader of Fiji’s main opposition party, Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Ro Teimumu Kepa says the Secretary-General to Parliament halted the contracts of six administrative staff in the SODELPA offices under the directive of the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The directive changes the allocation previously given to the parties, and means each party will be given 11,000 US dollars per MP for staffing at their discretion.

Ro Teimumu says SODELPA’s needs will likely exceed their allocation and the fellow opposition National Federation Party’s allocation will not cover its costs.

She says the changes should be reversed.

“The directive that has been given is that the funding goes to the parties and that is what we do not agree with because according to the decree which is parliamentary decree number four of last year, according to that it is illegal for us to receive funding from any other source except for the members themselves.”

Ro Teimumu says the independence of the Secretary-General to Parliament has also been called into question.RNZI

LAND

22) Solomons Landowners Encouraged To Open Land For Development
Former Guadalcanal Premier: Land reform must involve landowners

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 12, 2015) – Former Guadalcanal premier Anthony Veke has echoed the call by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare for landowners to open up their land for development.

Mr Sogavare made the call in his New Year’s message to the nation.

Mr Veke said Mr Sogavare’s call is an indication of his government’s intention to continue with the Land Reform Programme established by the last government.

He added the need for landowners to open up their land for development cannot be further stated.

The former premier also called on the national government to look into the issues surrounding Tenaru, Mamara, and Honiara land to ensure traditional owners of these land benefitted from them.

Mr Veke also added any land reform exercise the Sogavare government plans to undertake must include traditional landowners.

Solomon Star

BUSINESS

23) New Manus market opens

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 THE redeveloped Manus Provincial market was opened yesterday.
Governor Charlie Benjamin and Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Deborah Stokes unveiled the plaque to mark the opening that will boost economic opportunities for Manusians.
 Stokes said the market redevelopment was part of Australia’s additional assistance package to Manus.
She said the package was associated with the Regional Processing Centre, amounting to more than A$37 million (K51 million).
 “The market now has 740 vendor points and will provide economic empowerment, especially for women and girls, which is a high priority for the Australian Government,” Stokes said.
“Women vendors are the backbone of PNG markets and this market provides them the opportunity to sustain their livelihood.” The market redevelopment includes a new layout including a new fish and meat area and eight boutique shops, a children’s playground, a new roof designed to provide good ventilation, a new female toilet block and renovated existing female and male toilets, security lighting, landscaping, a realigned, repainted perimeter fence, and a refurbished police outpost.
 Stokes thanked the Manus provincial administration and its technical services division for their partnership with Australia to successfully implement this project.
Australia’s assistance to Manus includes road and bridge rehabilitation works, new school infrastructure, the rebuilding of the Manus police station, community development, youth and sports support and assistance to the Lorengau hospital.
 
24) Kava shortage bugs Vanuatu bar owners

Pacnews
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

PORT VILA, RNZI – A fresh delivery of kava lasted just a day in Vanuatu’s Port Vila, as kava shortage continues to affect kava bar owners.

Bar owners queued to buy from a delivery of about 100 bags of fresh kava last Friday, after more than half had been forced to shut because of the shortage.

The kava supply has recently dried up as commercial vessels stopped services to the main islands that grow kava, Pentecost, Epi, Malekula and Tanna, over the holiday period.

The shortage is estimated to have affected about 1000 people who depend on the sale of kava as their main source of income.

The next shipment of fresh kava is expected during the weekend.

The kava shortage has also seen the price of kava from Efate rise by 50 per cent to about $US4 ($F7.97).

INFRASTRUCTURE

25) PNG MP: Compensation Claims Hindering Development
Major road projects delayed because of ‘excessive’ claims

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 13, 2015) – Compensation claims is a major huddle to progress and development in the country, Minister for Works and Implementation Francis Awesa said.

Minister Awesa said when appealing to the people of Southern Highlands to respect and take ownership of several major road projects that would be rolled out by the National and its partners in the province.

“Compensation is a major problem and I call on the people of Southern Highlands to respect and take ownership of all developments for their benefit and for the future generations,” he said.

He said the Mendi Tambul road sealing is one example of excessive compensation demands that has delayed the project.

He said there were two separate compensation claims submitted to the department of Works.

He said the first valuation by the department of works was at K4 million but another valuation was also submitted with an inflated value of K8 million.

However the problem has been verified and the road project would resume in the New Year.

Mr Awesa said other road projects to start in the New Year are, the Nipa-Lai road funded by the Asain Development Bank, the K70 million Ialibu –Kagua road sealing, the continuation funding of the Hiri Lai road, connecting the Mendi Kandep road.

He said in 2016, the government would also build the Mendi-Kagua road, the Tambul, Tona Pimbil to Red Karanas road to allow vegetable from Tambul to be brought in to serve the Western Pacific University in Ialibu.

However, he said compensation is a major problem but if people want better services, they need to be learn to appreciate and embrace them instead of demanding hefty compensation demands.

Other projects that would be jointly funded by the National Government and the provincial government as per the Umbrella Benefit Sharing Agreement are the relocation of the K500 million Mendi Airport, the three phase redevelopment of the Mendi hospital, the sealing of Mendi Tari highway and the power supply to Hela.

PNG Post-Courier

WESTERN  LAW&ORDER  

26) Alcohol ban to spur homebrew, drug use

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 THE ban on alcohol sale and distribution in Western Highlands and Jiwaka will lead to the increase in the consumption of homebrew and marijuana, a villager says.
The Western Highlands provincial alcohol board is asked to reconsider its decisions and look at other ways to solve problems relating to alcohol.
Repi Kewa from the Moge Nambuka clan in Welia village near Mt Hagen, was responding to a provincial alcohol licencing board decision to impose a complete ban from this week.
He said homebrew and marijuana consumption was on the rise and the alcohol licencing board must look at ways to address the problem.
He suggested that the provincial government should fund more police operations and review the licensing process.
He said a total ban would only further increase homebrew and marijuana consumption.
“Fund the police operations and review the licence – that will help reduce the crime rate,” he said.
“This problem will not die out. We are having a complete breakdown in terms of law and order and alcohol contributes to it.
“We will not achieve anything from the alcohol ban.”
Kewa said the provincial alcohol licensing board must instead look at reducing the number of alcohol outlets.

TRIBAL LAW+

27) Church in PNG worried over witchcraft accusations

14 January 2015

The Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea says it fears for the safety of at least 50 people who are facing accusations of witchcraft or sorcery.

One of the missionaries for the church, Anton Lutz, says in one instance, 17 women and children from the west of Enga province are accused of being witches.

Mr Lutz says an intervention is planned this weekend and he is hopeful the person or people responsible will agree to retract their accusations.

But he says the church has a list of many more people who are also in danger.

“Generally with these kind of situations, once an accusation is made no-one is killed immediately but if there is a future death or unexplained illness or something like that – then they would be the first to be targeted and could be killed. So the next kid who has malaria – that could be a death sentence for one of these people.”

A missionary in Papua New Guinea, Anton Lutz, says there needs to be a unified approach from Government, churches and NGOs.RNZI

 REFUGEE,ASYLUM+

28) Hundreds Of Asylum Seekers On Manus Reportedly Stage Hunger Strike
So far only 71 out of over 1,000 have been granted refugee status


MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 14, 2015) – A refugee advocacy group says up to 300 asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea are staging a mass hunger strike to protest against their treatment.

Australia’s Immigration Department runs the centre and confirmed that detainees were protesting, but said it was a passive protest and asylum seekers were not refusing food.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the asylum seekers were fearful about their future and wanted refugee status and permanency.

“For the vast majority of them, they’ve now been on Manus for close to 18 months,” he said.

“For most of them there is still no refugee determination and no end in sight to the indefinite detention for what is perhaps the worst hell-hole that Australia has created.”

Mr Rintoul said recent tension came to a head over plans to move those who have gained refugee status to insecure accommodation in Lorengau, the island’s main town.

He said only 71 out of 1,000-plus asylum seekers had been granted refugee status.

“I think that this has just heightened the fears that they’re extremely vulnerable to the locals. The memory of the killing of Reza Barati is very fresh in their minds,” he said.

“There’ve been recent protests by locals at the detention centre, but overall it’s been 18 months and they’re no closer to getting a secure outcome.”

The detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and the resettlement of those found to be refugees in PNG is a major plank of the Australian Government’s asylum seeker policy.

Radio Australia 

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT

29) Strong Winds, High Wave Wreak Havoc On Honiara Shoreline
Various vessels washed ashore in East Honiara during bad weather

By Charley Piringi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 12, 2015) – Ranadi shoreline in east Honiara has been awashed with logging barges, landing crafts, and a tug-boat – courtesy of the current bad weather.

These vessels, anchored off the coast, could not stand the strong winds and high swells on Friday evening, forcing them to rest along-side other wrecks already lining the shoreline.

Yesterday, owners of these vessels brought in a crane and other machineries to try salvage their assets.

An eye-witness who lived in the area told the Sunday it happened so fast.

“We were here on Friday afternoon when the strong wind and high swells started hitting the shoreline,” the eye-witness, who only wants to be called Mathias, said.

“The barges, landing crafts, and the tug-boat over there could not withstand the force of the wind,” Mathias added.

“It happened so fast. The next thing we realised is all the vessels were washed ashore.

“Those staying on board the landing craft and the tug-boat could not do anything. In fact they’ve escaped well ahead.

“No one was killed, which is good news,” Mathias said.

When the Sunday Star visited the scene yesterday, a crane was brought in to salvage a bulldozer from the bottom of the sea.

Other logging machineries that were on board one of the barges were also swept away into the sea.

The tragedy came as the Weather Office last night issued a tropical disturbance for Western, Russell, Isabel, Guadalcanal, Makira and Rennell & Bellona.

The Weather Office said the disturbance is expected to bring gale force winds of 34 to 47 knots to develop over Rennell & Bellona, Guadalcanal, Central, Makira, Malaita, and southern parts of Western and Isabel.

“Winds will continue to further develop within the next 12 to 24 hours,” the office said.

“Seas will be moderate to rough with moderate swells and coastal flooding with heavy rain at times and squally thunderstorms.

“People should take precautionary measures as bad weather associated with the tropical depression poses threats to lives and properties.”

Meanwhile, the heavy rain warning remains for all provinces.

“People living close to rivers, streams and low lying areas are therefore strongly advised to take precautionary measures because of flash flooding or flooding which may pose danger to lives and property.

“Motorists are also advised to use extreme caution when travelling in these areas. Never attempt to cross rivers and large streams of unknown depth,” the Weather office said.

Solomon Star

MINING,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES+

30) People to get equal share from gold mine

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 CULTURE, Arts and Tourism Minister Boka Kon-dra (pictured) says the 33 per cent share of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd will be distributed equally among the stakeholders.
He said that when addressing public servants in his North Fly electorate in Kiunga yesterday.
“We have taken back what  is rightfully ours and now we will work as a team to distribute the shares to the people equally,” he said.
“There will be no one-man decision on how and how much share each party will get, this will come after consultation with every individual in the district and province.”
Kondra said most of the people had suffered in the past and “the time has come for us to enjoy what is rightfully ours”.
He thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for giving the people their share of the giant Ok Tedi mine. “Our struggles and hardship has been paid and we now own 33 per cent, the biggest share of OTML.”
He said he was ready to work with the leaders and people of Western to equally distribute the benefits of their shareholdings.

SPORTS

31) NZ, PNG, New Caledonia U17s make winning start

New Zealand have begun the defence of their Oceania Under 17 football title in emphatic style, with a 6-0 thumping of Fiji.

The Baby All Whites were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes and scored three goals in each half.

Fijian hopes weren’t helped by a second half red card for Afraz Ali when the midfielder opted to palm the ball off the goal line, while a second penalty was conceded late in the game.

Fiji co-coach Kamal Swamy acknowledges it was a tough night at the office but is staying optimistic.

“The first three goals we gave it to them. It was poor defending – that’s what we were talking about and once we got numbers in the box they were not able to score so even with ten players we were able to contain certain attacks where we were making mistakes in. If we play as a group we would have got a better result [or] at least less goals scored against us”.

New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea were also impressive in 3-0 victories over Samoa and the Cook Islands respectively.

The Francophones could have had more goals against the home side but Samoa keeper Taase Hunt proved tough to beat between the sticks.

Samoa coach Desmond Faai’uaso was thrilled with the way his players laid their bodies on the line.

“So proud of my boys because this is their first time playing an international series – especially those young boys under 15 years old so I’m so proud of them”.

Despite a winning start, PNG coach Harrison Kamake still wants more from his players.

“There’s a lot of improvements that we need to do at this stage. It’s the first game of the tournament [and] we expected that the boys would be nervous at the start. It showed in the first half we were struggling a bit but the boys did the job in the end. The footwork was there, the ball movement was there but the finishing off was not there for us so we just need to work on that”.

The competition moves to Pago Pago today on Tuesday local time for Group B with hosts American Samoa opening up against Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands taking on newcomers Tonga.

American Samoa coach Uinifareti Aliva says they have been preparing for the past two months and are looking forward to playing in front of their home supporters.

Their best performances at this level include a win over Cook Islands and a draw with Samoa during the Preliminary round two years ago, and a draw with the Cook Islands in the tournament-proper in 2003.

The overall winner qualifies for the U17 World Cup in Chile later this year.RNZI

32) PNG conscious of Pacific Games legacy

14 January 2015

The Pacific Games Council says organisers of this year’s event in Port Moresby are working hard to deliver a top event, but also have an eye on the future.

PNG were awarded the hosting rights in 2009 but delays early in the process saw construction and planning fall close to two years behind schedule.

Progress around the completion of venues and accommodation is now on track to be ready for the July start-date, although officials acknowledge it will be a tight finish.

The Executive Director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, says the government and sporting stakeholders in PNG have been very supportive and have big goals.

“I think they’ve got some really good positive long-term ambitions for their country and sport – not just to host a good games this year in 2015 but perhaps being able to host other major championship events in the years to follow. There’s lots of opportunities to host Oceania regional championships and perhaps one day even to think about doing something like a Commonwealth Games. They are putting a lot of money and effort into their venues and one of the pleasing things for us, in terms of legacy, is that they’re also putting a lot of thinking and resources behind what comes after the 2015 [Pacific] Games, in terms of keeping those venues in good condition”.RNZI

33) Ronaldo wins top FIFA award


Afp
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ZURICH – Portuguese and Real Madrid great Cristiano Ronaldo has won his third Ballon d’Or yesterday at the FIFA ceremony in Zurich to edge within one of his eternal rival Barcelona’s Argentinian magician Lionel Messi.

The 29-year-old forward — who played a key role in Real Madrid’s charge to a 10th Champions League trophy — beat Messi and Germany’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Ronaldo was the star of the night in which Real teammate James Rodriguez won the goal of the year award and Germany’s Joachim Loew was declared coach of the year.

“I never thought I would win this trophy on three occasions,” Ronaldo said in his victory speech, signalling there would be no letup in his quest for football glory. Ronaldo, whose son and mother were present and burst into tears when he went up to collect the award, praised his team-mates but he also paid homage to his family.

“I would like to thank my mother, to my father, who is in heaven and who is looking down on me, to my family,” said Ronaldo.

“It has been an unforgettable year and to win a trophy of this importance is unimaginable.”

Ronaldo cruised to victory garnering 37.66 per cent of the votes of the 181 national team coaches, 182 national team captains, and 181 media representatives who voted.

34) Sweet soccer success

Source: 
The National, Wednesday January 14th, 2015

 THE taste of sweet success surrounded the Papua New Guinea Under-17 soccer team as they registered a first-up 3-0 win over the Cook Islands on Day One of the Oceania play-offs at the J S Blatter Football Complex in Apia, Samoa, yesterday.
Key players Freddy Tupani and Brendon Kambual made their presence felt with delicate
goals to spark their first victory of the two-week long World Cup qualifier. The match kicked off slowly as both teams tried to make in-roads into opposition territory.
PNG quickly made their intentions known that they wanted nothing less than a win as Bogia lad Brendon Kambual fired into the back of the net for the first goal of the afternoon.
Using their speed to their advantage, the PNG players were superior as the Cook Islanders worked overtime to stay in the game.
The Harrison Kamake-coached players worked hard to find ways into the penalty area but Cook Islands made them work for any territory gained.
Tupani had several opportunities to score goals but was thwarted by Cooks defender Samuel Tatuava and his goalkeeper, Chrismagne Elikana.
The second half saw a rejuvenated PNG side come out firing all cylinders. 
Striker Tupani, Misty Laskma and Kambual tried their best in the opening minutes of the second stanza but could not find the target.
Super substitute Martin Tokwakwasi, who replaced Larsen Pasum, made a super striker to put PNG up by two goals.
As the game seesawed towards the final minute, Tupani finally scored to cushion the lead. 
The elfin speedster raced one on one past Elikana, before firing a low finish to secure the 3-0 victory.

35) Tonga’s Samisoni Fisilau signs for English club

14 January 2015 

Tongan halfback Samisoni Fisilau has signed for England second divison rugby club Jersey.

The 27 year old most recently played for Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s provincial competition and has 15 caps for the ‘Ikale Tahi.

He was also a part of the Hurricanes Super Rugby squad in 2013 but did not take the field.

Jersey head coach Harvey Biljon told the club’s website Fisilau is a very talented player who has been on their radar for some time.

Biljon says he the Tongan is a powerful man and thinks his style of play will complement the club’s existing halfbacks.

Fisilau is available immediately and will be in contention for Jersey’s next match in the Greene King IPA Championship, away to Doncaster this weekend.RNZI

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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