Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1119 ( Friday 21 August )
1) Bank plan ‘good’
Thursday, August 20, 2015
GIVEN that the Melanesian region is under invested, the opportunity to start a Melanesian Spearhead Group Investment Bank (MSGIB) in the region is a positive one, says Westpac economist Justin Smirk.
Mr Smirk said the investment bank could be positive as long as their mandates were understood and the lending policies were transparent.
His comments followed a plan for the MSG leaders to establish an investment bank to assist member countries with improving their infrastructure.
However, Mr Smirk said policies of the proposed investment bank should be transparent and understood for the right reasons.
He said this could lead to a good and strong positive impact.
On the negative impact, he said, this would crowd out investment and create a bad investment structure. Plans were in the pipeline to establish an investment bank, which was expected to start with a net capital of $2.4billion.
It is understood this could be sourced from superannuation funds in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
University of the South Pacific’s Lekima Nalaukai, who carried out an analysis on the bank, said the idea of establishing an MSGIB would assist MSG countries with providing the needed funding for development and also to invest funds into revenue generating activities to support member countries.
He said those general risk areas needed to be carefully identified and assessed and strategies developed to mitigate their impact in a cost effective manner.
However, Mr Nalaukai said all these measured against a $4b gap in the infrastructure in this part of the region and something needed to be done.Fijitimes
2) West Papua Activist May Be Released After 10 Years In Jail
Filep Karma convicted of raising Morning Star flag in 2004
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 19, 2015) – The West Papuan political activist, Filep Karma, is reportedly close to walking free after ten years in prison.
Indonesia’s government has reportedly guaranteed Mr Karma’s security and freedom of speech once he leaves prison.
Late last week, he rejected an offer of remission on Indonesia’s National Independence Day, which was two days ago, saying he would only accept an unconditional release.
Mr Karma has been serving a 15-year jail sentence for treason in Papua’s Abepura Prison, after he raised the banned Morning Star flag at a political rally in 2004.
He said he would be happy to walk free the day after National Day, as long as his release was “unconditional”.
Mr Karma says he did not commit any crime by raising the flag, and would continue to campaign for West Papuan independence.
Indonesian CNN reports the government as signalling that once out of prison, Filep Karma is free to exercise his democratic rights.
Radio New Zealand International
3) 16 arrested for robbery in Tonga
20 August 2015
Tonga police have arrested 16 men allegedly involved in a series of robberies in the capital, Nuku’alofa.
Radio Tonga reports good worth a total of $US36,000 had been taken.
The Nuku’alofa police chief, Superintendent Tevita Fifita, says the alleged crimes included the robbery of a foreigner and theft from a butcher’s shop.
Six of the 16 are still being held in police custody.RNZI
4) Samoa Ombudsman Issues First Human Rights Report
Document weaves together Fa‘asamoa and human, rights principles
APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Aug. 18, 2015) – The Office of the Ombudsman as the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) launched its first State of Human Rights Report to Parliament last night. The report highlights the nature and extent of human rights issues experienced in Samoa.
The report dispels misconceptions that currently exist in Samoa about the nature and purpose of human rights and discusses the relationship between Fa’asamoa and the international human rights system, including the relationship between individual and community rights. As the Ombudsman stated last night “This report is very much for Samoa, by Samoa … the weaving together of Fa’asamoa and human rights principles will make a stronger and more harmonious society.”
The report further explores the Fa’asamoa principles of equality, respect and protection, which complement basic human rights in international law, and the relationship between these principles and the bigger picture issues which form the basis of the report, namely, the equality, respect and protection of vulnerable populations; all aspects of health; environmental health; and religious and economic freedoms.
The main focus of the report is the need for better safeguards for equality and respect for women, children, people with disabilities (PWDs) and prisoners. It was clear from the research and outreach the NHRI conducted that these groups are the most vulnerable in Samoan society and the most in need of stronger human rights protections.
The report concludes with a discussion of the emerging issues of mental health and freedom of speech. Also contained within the report are a number of recommendations made to relevant Government ministries and agencies in order to better strengthen human rights protections for the people of Samoa.
[PIR editor’s note: Samoa Observer reported that ‘One in every five Samoans live in poverty. … That is one of the issues identified by the first State of Human Rights Report for Samoa officially launched last night.’]
The report was formally launched by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi who commended the NHRI on its work and called for the formation of a Parliamentary Committee tasked with following up on the report’s recommendations. The Prime Minister also urged relevant government ministries to implement the report’s recommendations. Also in attendance at the launch were representatives from Government ministries, civil society, community groups and international organizations who all provided valuable input which underpinned the findings of the report.
The Ombudsman echoed the Prime Minister’s comments, thanked the government and civil society for their cooperation, and stated that it was in “this spirit of cooperation that we [the NHRI] seek to work with all stakeholders to ensure that human rights are protected for everyone in Samoa.”
The Status of Human Rights Report will be debated when Parliament is next in session. It is available on the Office of the Ombudsman’s website – www.ombudsman.gov.ws
5) World Bank Support Government Pilot Project In Marshalls
Project to improve fisheries department
By Giff Johnson
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Aug. 19, 2015) – The Marshall Islands is gearing up to launch a multi-year, World Bank-supported pilot project to strengthen governance and sustainability of the fisheries department and its programs.
The Marshall Islands is one of four Parties to the Nauru Agreement or PNA member countries, joining the Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands, in the new World Bank-funded project.
The World Bank is expected to provide about $1 million a year to the Marshall Islands “to raise the bar” for fisheries management work in the country, said Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority or MIMRA Director Glen Joseph this week. The new project, which will be launched before the end of this year, will impact both local coastal fisheries operations as well as management of the oceanic commercial fishery.
Joseph said the World Bank’s inclusion of the Marshall Islands in this initial pilot is “recognition of what we’ve done in fisheries, which has generated interest from outside.”
Joseph expects the new program to help MIMRA build its capacity to improve implementation of policies and compliance work in fisheries.
Joseph said the project is expected to have specific impacts in developing management of the oceanic tuna fishery, with an emphasis on expanding MIMRA’s monitoring, control and surveillance program. This includes increasing the pool of trained fisheries observers from the current 50 to 100, and expanding observer coverage to longline fishing boats as MIMRA joins other PNA nations in rolling out a new vessel-day scheme for the longline industry as it has done for the purse-seine fishery.
The program also aims to bolster the country’s domestic fishery by facilitating MIMRA’s collaboration with local governments and local communities to establish more resource management plans that address food security, climate impacts and conservation requirements for outer islands, said Joseph.
6) Marianas Residents Encouraged To Apply For Small Business Loans
Low-interest loans available for typhoon recovery
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 19, 2015) – Saipan residents in need of typhoon recovery assistance are encouraged to see if they qualify for low-interest disaster loan programs with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Despite its name, SBA disaster programs aren’t limited to businesses. Rick Jenkins, spokesman for SBA’s disaster assistance office, said homeowners or renters are encouraged to visit the Disaster Recovery Center in Susupe, Saipan, to see if they can avail themselves of low-interest disaster loan programs with SBA to replace typhoon-damaged household items and repair or rebuild their Soudelor-damaged homes.
A homeowner can borrow up to $200,000, and a business can borrow up to $2 million, but the approved amount will depend on the need and ability to repay, he said. Homeowners can see interest rates as low as 1.8 percent and businesses as low as 4 percent.
For past devastating storms, Jenkins said SBA approved:
$148 million for Guam and $2.3 million for the Northern Marianas after Supertyphoon Paka in 1997;
$150.3 million for Guam and $9.9 million for the Northern Marianas after Supertyphoon Pongsona in December 2002;
$31.6 million for Guam and $1.7 million for the Northern Marianas in the aftermath of Typhoon Chataan in July 2002.
The first step to receiving federal disaster assistance is to register with FEMA.
FEMA provides some funds for disaster recovery for those who qualify, but SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property, according to FEMA.
SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property.
These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations, FEMA stated. If a survivor qualifies for a FEMA grant, FEMA will send a check by mail or deposit money directly into the survivor’s bank account, according to a FEMA statement. A survivor also will receive a letter describing how a FEMA grant should be used.
If FEMA denies a grant application, survivors can call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585 to understand why an application was denied. Disaster survivors can appeal a FEMA denial in writing within 60 days of FEMA’s decision. The appeal can be sent:
by mail to P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055; or
by fax: (800) 827-8112 Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program.
Pacific Daily News
7) PNG Government’s ban on visas for Australians remain
By Online Editor
4:52 pm GMT+12, 18/08/2015, Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea Government’s ban on visas on arrival for Australians flying into PNG remains in force.
Chief migration officer Mataio Rabura said this recently when responding to suggestions in this newspaper’s Drum column that Australians who fly in through Air Niugini’s yet to be commissioned Brisbane-Gurney service will be issued visas on arrival.
He said Australians who fly up without visas will be refused entry into the country and the airline that gives them carriage will be slapped with a K30,000 fine (US$10,844).
“The ban on Australians getting a visa on arrival in PNG applies to all ports of entry and is still in force. There will be a number of very disappointed persons, firstly Australians on that flight without visas who will be refused entry, and Air Niugini who under the Migration Act will not only be directed to return those passengers to Brisbane but also pay a penalty of K30,000 for each passenger they bring into the country without a visa.
“Furthermore, any person (s) who aides and abets a foreigner to enter the country illegally may also be prosecuted,” said Rabura in an email to the Post-Courier.
There have been concerns within the tourism and in-country service industries that the ban will have a negative impact on business. But 16 months on since its enforcement there has not been any “adverse effects” on tourism numbers from Australia, says the Tourism Promotion Authority.
A meeting on June 29 this year between the TPA and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority concluded that the number of Australian tourists or visitors remained constant before and after the ban.
“At the meeting, it was agreed by the two agencies that the ban on issuance of visas on arrival to Australian tourists has not had any adverse or dramatic effect on the tourist numbers from Australia.”
According to the TPA a total of 26,946 visas were issued to Australians at PNG diplomatic missions between March 1, 2014 and June 16 this year – which covers the ban period. Prior to the ban a total of 25,815 Australians were issued visas on arrival between January 1, 2012 and February 28, 2014.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
9) New Zealand Fishing Industry Could Employ Islanders: Ambassador
Shane Jones announces pilot training program with Kiribati
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20, 2015) – New Zealand’s Pacific Economic Ambassador Shane Jones says New Zealand’s fishing industry can benefit from skilled workers from around the Pacific.
During recent Pacer Plus trade negotiations, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilapea Sailele Malielegaoi called on New Zealand unions to consider expanding the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme to areas such as construction and fisheries.
Mr Jones says a pilot fisheries training programme in Kiribati, funded by the New Zealand government, will allow some of its graduates to work in New Zealand.
He says regional leaders are keen to see similar programmes in other parts of the Pacific.
“There’s about 9,000 cap at the moment in the RSE but there is scope in the fishing industry to marry the needs of the deep sea industry with the talent available in the Pacific.”
Radio New Zealand International
10) Solomon Islands Western Provins i sot long kaikai
Postim 20 August 2015, 12:34 AEST
Premier blong Western Provins long Solomon Islands, George Lilo itok ol pipol long sampela hap blong provins i nidim help long gavman long sait long kaikai.
Premier Lilo i tok bikpla sun oa nogat ren em El Nino weather sistim i kamapim i bagarapim ol gaden kaikai na tu mekim ol wara i drai na despla i kamapim bikpla wari long komiuniti.
Em i tok gavman ibin givim wan handrat tausan dola pinis igo long ol Palaman memba long givim igo long ol pipol, tasol emi tok despla moni ino nap.
Long liklik ailan blong Gizo wea kapitol blong Western Provins i stap longen, ol i gat heve tu long sait long wara.
Solomon Islands, wankaen olsem ol narapla kantri long Pacific olsem Papua New Guinea nau i wok long bungim heve blong sot long wara na kaikai.ABC
11) Ol i paitim wanpela Asian bisnisman long Buka
Updated 20 August 2015, 16:14 AEST
Wanpela Asian man husat i marit long Bougainville na i papa blong wanpla stua i stap nau long haus sik wantem sampla bagarap emi bin kisim aste long wanpla fait long Buka taon.
Ol ripot ikam long Buka itok despla trabal ibin stat iet long sampla wik igo pinis bihaen long oli bin sutim tok long despla man blong China long sutim wanpla chif wantem wanpla ston.
Ol laen wan pisin blong despla chif ibin go na askim despla China man long baem sampla compensation, tasol emi no bin mekim.
Aste oli in go bek na askim despla China man long stretim despla askim blong ol, tasol nogat gutpla toktok i kamap olsem na trabal ibin kamap.
Planti pipal long Bougainville ino wanbel long sampla pipal blong China nau isave ronim ol liklik bisnis we oli ting ol lokal pipal tasol imas gat ol despla bisnis.ABC
12) Nogat ren na bikpela kol i bagarapim PNG highlands rijin
Postim 19 August 2015, 15:09 AEST
Kaik we ibin nogat ren long longpela taim na bikpla kol nau i kamapim bikpla heve tru long ol provins blong Highlands long Papua New Guinea.
Southern Highlands provins i wanpla long ol ples emi kisim taem long nogat ren na bikpla kol.
Lucas Martin emi wanpla bisnisman long Mendi, biktaon blong Southern Highlands i tok dispela kain ibin bagarapim olgeta gaden, na tu ol wara i drai.
Highlands rijan i save kamapim ol gutpla kaikai olsem kaukau, potato, cabbage, brocolli na ol narapla kumu em oli save salim igo long ol narapla hap blong kantri.
Despla bikpla sun na bikpla kol nau i kamapim bikpla hangre long Highlands iet na tu long ol ples long nambis.
Governor blong Southern Highlands William Powi i tokaut pinis long givim sampla moni long helpim ol pipal blong en.ABC
13a) Brèves du Pacifique – jeudi 20 août 2015
De nouvelles accusations d’incitation à l’émeute aux Îles Fidji
15) Fiji Military Ready ‘To Crush Instability Or Insurrection’
Army involved after reports of weapons being used
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20, 2015) – The Fiji Land Force Commander says his soldiers will carry out the Prime Minister’s intentions to crush instability or insurrection if need be.
Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho says 140 infantry personnel will assist the police in their investigations of groups undertaking suspected seditious behaviour.
Colonel Qiliho says the possibility of weapons being involved has triggered the move, which will see unarmed police being protected.
The Commander says it is also the constitutional role of the military to safeguard the security and well-being of Fiji.
“You can understand what we’ve been through in the year 2000 and we don’t want such an event to occur again in Fiji. We want Fiji to prosper. We don’t want any of those kind of events to happen again. Like our Prime Minister has said, there will be no more coups or no more instability or insurrection. He has mentioned the words that he will crush it and we go by the intentions of our Prime Minister.”
65 people have appeared in court over the past six weeks charged with sedition, with one group alleged to have conducted military style training in the hills of Ra province.
[PIR editor’s note: Radio Australia reported that ‘A lawyer representing some of the people charged with sedition and inciting political violence in Fiji says authorities are yet to show evidence of their claims. … At least 65 people were arrested and charged in recent weeks. … Some have been accused of trying to form a separate Christian state while others are alleged to have used firearms and being involved in military-style training. … Defence lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh said he had yet to receive any information about evidence from prosecutors and police.’]
Radio New Zealand International
16) Solomons’ Malaita to pursue sovereignty
19 August 2015
The premier of Solomon Islands Malaita province says the provincial government is pressing ahead with plans for a sovereign nation of Malaita.
Peter Chanel Ramohia says a Provincial Assembly special select committee is being appointed to draw up a roadmap and timetable for consultations with Malaitan leaders and the national government.
The Premier says a sovereign Malaita nation was not a declaration of independence.
He made the comments before the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in the provincial capital Auki during provincial celebrations.
Mr Ramohia says the Provincial Assembly had decided to suspend discussions on a proposed federal system of government and on the current provincial government system.
He says the Assembly believes the proposed federal system will not be ready for adoption within the next ten years and the existing Provincial Government Act would not be ready for adoption for at least another ten years.
Mr Ramohia says Malaita cannot wait that long which is the reason for pursuing a system that can work for Malaitan people.
He says his government wants to do something about the situation in Malaita now in a legal manner as no one else can do it for them.
Malaita is the country’s most populous province.RNZI
17) Solomon PM announces cabinet reshuffle as controversial Forestry Minister replaced
By Online Editor
4:55 pm GMT+12, 18/08/2015, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced a reshuffle of his Cabinet Ministers.
Announcing these changes, the Prime Minister said, “With the proposed Forestry Reforms currently being undertaken by the DCC Government and due to the significance this sector has on the national economy, we want to ensure that any progress made to effectively regulate the industry, maximise returns and improve sustainability, is not compromised by personal conflict of interests which might complicate the
“For this reason the Hon Bodo Detkke will now be mandated with the important task of driving this government’s priority sector as the new Minister for Tourism”
The Prime Minister further added, “As a demonstration of my confidence in the next generation of MP’s and government’s commitment to impartial decisions that reflect the national interest, Hon Bartholomew Parapolo will be sworn in as the new Minister for Forests and Research.
As a newly elected Member of Parliament who has no commercial ties to the logging industry, I am confident that with the technical support of Ministry Officials and in particular the Permanent Secretary and the Commissioner of Forests, Bart Parapolo has the capacity to work closely with industry stake holders to overcome the challenges of this vital sector and facilitate implementation of the DCCG policy agenda.”
Other portfolio changes include Minister for Agriculture and Livestock to Augustine Auga who will be re- shuffled with the Minister for Provincial Government, Dudley Kopu, while the Minister for Rural Development, Freda Tuki Soria Comua will be reshuffled with the Minister for Youth and Women’s’ Development, Jimson Tanangada.”
The Prime Minister explained these new portfolio allocations are neither demotions or promotions but instead for purposes of supporting the delivery of DCCG policies, encouraging Caucus solidarity and promoting national unity by recognizing that change can only be achieved if we work together at all levels of our society and must begin with us leaders.
“This decision represents the confidence I have in each of these Ministers to carry out their mandated responsibilities without fear or favour and they all have the full support of the DCC Government,” he added.
18) Ten political Parties get deregistered in PNG
By Online Editor
11:15 pm GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission has deregistered 10 political parties for failing to comply with the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates.
Commission chairman Sir Andrew Trawen said a further seven had been given a second chance after the commission found their responses to be genuine.
Eight of the existing 35 parties received their funding for 2015 Wednesday at the OLIPPAC office.
The deregistered parties are the League for Democracy, Pan Melanesian Congress, People’s Heritage, PNG Conservative, Rural Development, Transform PNG, Kingdom First, New Dawn transformation, National Front and PNG New Vision.
The notice of cancellation was in the National Gazette G513 on August 13.
The parties put on notice but reconsidered included the People’s Labour, Indigenous People’s, PNG Destiny, PNG Labour, Greens, People’s Resources Awareness and Republican.
Sir Andrew, the Electoral Commissioner, said the registry of political parties was getting tough on parties for non-compliance, particularly for failing to submit annual financial returns.
“Another important reason is that they just disappeared after the 2012 national election. They have stopped functioning and no longer have executives in existence,” he said.
Trawen said a stern warning had been issued to the seven parties that were given a second chance.
“The registrar (Dr Alphonse Gelu) and I have met with the seven parties and I strongly told them to pull up their socks or face deregistration.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
19) Allegedly Illegally Elected PNG Governor Told To Step Down
Ex-opposition leader Namah clings to power in West Sepik
By Clifford Faiparik
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 20, 2015) – The Government says the winner of the West Sepik regional by-election which is drawing to a close will be declared Governor.
Acting Prime Minister Leo Dion told The National yesterday that he had already informed Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah in a letter of the illegality of his election last April as Governor by 13 members of the provincial assembly last month.
“We made ourselves quite clear through a written advice to the honourable former Opposition leader.
I think he is a respected person and he understands that as a Papua New Guinean leader that we have a law to follow,” Dion said.
“The law is straight-forward. I don’t acknowledge his election. That’s the end of it. The power is vested in me as the minister responsible”.
Dion said the vacancy in the office of the Governor would be filled by whoever won the current by-election which had almost reached the elimination process during counting.
“The election is in progress and we await the result,” he said.
State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea had advised in a letter dated June 29, 2015 that the election of Namah on April 22 by the provincial assembly failed to follow due process.
This is because the extra assembly meeting (during which the election took place) was null and void as it did not comply with the Provincial Government Administration (PGA) Act 1997.
Rolpagarea also said under Section 14 and 15 of the Organic Law on the Provincial and Local Level Governments, East Coast-Aitape local level government president Sylvester Apiep did not have the authority to chair the assembly meeting which elected Namah as Governor.
However Namah has denied receiving Dion’s letter and maintain he is still the Governor. He challenged Dion to take him to court.
“Dion is not the right person to declare me as not the Governor,” he said.
“Rolpagarea is just providing a legal opinion. The court is the right forum to dispute my election.
“I am still the Governor. Even if someone is declared the Regional MP, I will still be the Governor. The elected Regional MP has to come to the provincial assembly and move a vote of no confidence against me. If not, I’ll remain the Governor until 2017.”
Acting assembly clerk Simon M’lendu was suspended last month by provincial administrator Henry Nom on Dion’s advice for authorising the assembly meeting resulting in Namah’s election.
M’lendu however argued that the Standing Orders of the assembly was used to appoint Apiep as the acting chairman the incumbent acting chairman Paul Nengai was unavailable.
20) WorldRemit comes ashore in the Pacific Islands
By Online Editor
8:51 pm GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Fiji
Money transfer service WorldRemit today launches instant remittances to mobiles in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Customers in 50 countries can now send money to Digicel Mobile Money wallets – just like an instant message.
WorldRemit’s mobile-to-mobile remittance service already enables people to send funds direct to Mobile Money wallets in countries across Africa, Asia and Oceania. Now the significant Fijian, Tongan and Samoan diasporas can make instant, low-cost money transfers direct to the mobiles of their friends and family back home.
Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are amongst the countries most dependent on remittances in the world, where they form a significant share of GDP. In 2014 remittances contributed an estimated $463m to their economies.
Mobile Money plays an important role in bringing the unbanked into the formal economy in many Pacific islands. The Digicel Mobile Money wallet is supported by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme. It aims in particular to support hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged women and people living in rural areas.
Funds sent to Digicel Mobile Money wallets can be immediately used to pay bills such as electricity or insurance, top-up airtime, make purchases in stores or online, or simply to store for future use. Digicel Tonga was also one of the first mobile operators globally to launch NFC contactless payments via Mobile Money in 2011.
Alix Murphy, senior mobile analyst at WorldRemit comments: “We’re pioneering mobile-to-mobile remittances for Pacific Islanders. Fijian, Tongan and Samoan expats can now send money direct from the WorldRemit app straight to the phones of their family or friends back home. We make sending money overseas as easy as an instant message.”
21) PNG a leader in SME development, says PIPSO
By Online Editor
11:21 pm GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is leading the way in promoting small and medium enterprises in the Pacific says Mereia Volavola, CEO of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation.
The country she says has established an SME Council headed by none other than Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself.
“This shows the importance PNG places on SME development in public policy,” says Volavola. “Just last week the PNG government announced the bold move of banning fruit and vegetable imports, an announcement that is going to directly benefit local SMEs.”
Speaking on accessing trade finance at a regional workshop on Pacific -US trade and investment, Volavola says commercial banks need to do more in the area of SME financing.
Recent studies show loan opportunities are hindered by too many bank-imposed conditions, some of them too rigid for small island nations in the Pacific.
Demanding an auditor’s report with every SME loan application is a case in point, says Volavola.
The PIPSO boss suggests commercial banks should accept a suggestion from an international study which called for allocation of a certain percentage of their loan portfolio set aside for SME clients.
SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS
22) Town to be a city in 2017
Thursday, August 20, 2015
NADI will become the country’s third city in 2017, says Local Government Minister Parveen Kumar.
He made the announcement at a meeting of special administrators and CEOs from municipal councils in Nadi yesterday.
“Nadi will be declared a city in 2017 and I have been advised by special administrator Robin Ali that most of the work has been done in this regard,” he said.
Mr Kumar said it was an exciting time for Nadi, a municipality that continued to thrive despite being hit by a number of floods over the years.
Speaking to heads of municipalities yesterday, Mr Kumar said there were a number of issues councils had to consider in terms of service delivery.
“I don’t want to see people who are not ratepayers being turned away,” he said.
“Note down their concerns or queries and point them in the right direction.”
Mr Kumar said municipal councils should set examples of good customer service to the public at large.Fijitimes
23) Transportation Operators Protest Solomons Islands Port Fee Change
Taxi drivers force Ports Authority to backtrack on entry fee
By Biriau Wilson Saeni
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 20, 2015) – Transport operators using the domestic wharf yesterday staged a protest infront of the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) head office following a change in the way entry fee is being charged.
Previously, vehicles are being charged $5 [US$0.62] per day to enter the domestic wharf area anytime through the day to drop or pick up passengers and goods.
But on Tuesday, Ports management imposed new charging system of a $5 fee per entry. This means, every time a vehicle enters the wharf area, it must pay the $5 fee.
This has triggered frustration amongst local taxi and pick up drivers who decided to stage a protest in front of the Ports Authority area between 9am to 11am, Tuesday morning.
They demanded an explanation from SIPA management over the way it charges entry fee when vehicles enter.
A group of five men representing the taxi drivers headed by the former Member of Parliament Isaac Inoke held discussion with the Ports CEO Collin Yeo.
Mr. Inoke after the meeting addressed the frustrated drivers saying the CEO has decided to revoke the new charges and to remain with the fee of $5.00 per day.
The CEO explained to the drivers the intention to change the way it charges the fee.
“This is to protect the domestic wharf from unnecessary entry.”
He said, some vehicle owners have misused the domestic wharf as a car park, a drinking area or a dumping area which makes the place unsafe and unhealthy for customers.
He said the entrance fee of $5 per day will continue for the next three month.
Mr Yeo calls on taxi drivers to respect the area within the domestic wharf as a place to drop off and pick up passengers/cargoes and not to be used unnecessarily.
“If all the taxi drivers improve their behaviour at the wharf over the next three months, the entrance at the gate will be scrapped.
But, if they fail to improve on their behaviour, then he said, “the authority will most likely to increase the entrance free to control entry to the wharf.”
24) Judge Prevents Vanuatu Minister From Attending Forum Meeting
Bribery case against Vohor prohibits him from leaving country
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20, 2015) – A Vanuatu Supreme Court judge has order the country’s foreign minister, Serge Vohor, not to attend next month’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting.
Mr Vohor is facing criminal charges before the court in a bribery case against 18 government MPs.
VBTC reports that Justice Mery Sey has ordered the defendants to not travel abroad before the court reconvenes in September, which means Mr Vohor will miss the Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea.
Last year, the MPs were alleged to have received approximately US$10,000 dollars each in loans from the then opposition leader, Moana Carcasses, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister.
They were suspended from Parliament but successfully challenged that, claiming their suspensions were unconstitutional.
Radio New Zealand International
25) Solomon Islands government task force to investigate $500 million tax loss
By Online Editor
11:08 pm GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands Government will form a Taskforce comprised of officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Forests & Research, Inland Revenue, Customs, Police and the Central Bank to investigate the $500 million (US$62 million) tax loss revealed by the outgoing Minister of Forestry and Research, Bodo Dettke.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said the taskforce will be mandated to investigate the revelation by Dettke about the discrepancies in export duties and withholding tax to Customs and Inland Revenue.
“Subject to details of these allegations being uncovered Cabinet may consider the appointment of a Parliamentary Special Select Committee to comprehensively investigate this serious breach of our laws and get to the bottom of the matter” the statement said.
The government has commended the move by the outgoing Forestry Minister to expose details on the potential defrauding of the Solomon Islands Government from a huge amount of revenue.
The revelation has no direct bearing on his reshuffling except to avoid any potential conflict of interest that would definitely arise if he were to remain as the Minister for Forest and Research while such investigations were being carried out.
The statement further added that “Independent investigations into the alleged underpayments by logging companies will continue to be pursued by the incoming Minister Bart Parapolo, including major reforms proposed for the forestry sector.
The decision to initiate this reshuffle was timely and independently made by the Prime Minister in view of the prevailing circumstances surrounding these issues and due also to the extensive commercial background of the MP for North West Guadalcanal in the logging sector that would undermine the integrity of any investigations and jeopardize the credibility of information gathered if he were to remain as the Forestry Minister.”
The exposure of such a huge revenue loss will form part of the government’s ongoing reforms in the forestry sector and Bodo Dettke, who is the new Minister for Culture and Tourism, is exercising his right as a citizen of Solomon Islands to expose instances that would defraud the government of tax revenue.
Income derived from the logging industry represents more than fifty percent of the country’s economic revenue base and the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) is pursuing reforms in the Forestry sector due to the significance logging has on the national economy that requires effective regulation to maximize returns and improve sustainability.
The government is confident that the information obtained by the Taskforce from its investigations will also aid the government to institute ongoing industry reforms in the forestry sector.
26) Hundreds of thousands face food shortages in PNG
20 August 2015
The Papua New Guinea Highlands provinces, home to several million people, are on the edge of a catastrophe caused by drought and frosts.
Many parts of Enga, Southern, and Western Highlands provinces have been affected by frost which have laid waste to vegetable gardens, especially critical foods such as sweet potato.
Drought is also a factor across all the Highlands provinces with some areas not seeing rain for more than two months.
The assistant country director for Care International in PNG says traditionally rains return by October but she says forecasters are predicting drought conditions could continue into the New Year.
Blossum Gilmour says despite the gloomy forecast she is encouraged by the early calls for help from provincial governments throughout PNG.
“There is going to be a need we see needs now and they are only going to increase. So that makes us hopeful that there is time for the response efforts to be well coordinated and make sure that everyone who is affected and actually needs support to get through the drought can get that support.”
Care International’s Blossum Gilmour
The Papua New Guinea Opposition says the Government should delay anniversary celebrations and direct funds to help the victims of the drought and frosts in the Highlands.
The Government this week allocated $US8.7 million dollars for the 40th anniversary celebrations in 4 weeks, to be divided among the 20 provinces and their MPs for gala events .
But the Opposition Leader, Don Polye, says starvation is looming in the Highlands and there cannot be celebrating.
He is urging the government to defer the celebrations until the end of the year to allow the victims to recover.
He says the celebration grant would be better spent by diverting it into providing relief supplies.RNZI
27) Australia Supports Coral Triangle Initiative
Funds allow PNG to support local conservation, resource management
By Gorethy Kenneth
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 20, 2015) – Australia has pumped in an additional $1.9 million [US$1.4 million] funding for PNG to deepen ties on the Coral Triangle Initiative.
The regional Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) was a key focus of discussions between Papua New Guinea and Australia this week.
Environment and Conservation and Climate Change Minister John Pundari and Australian Minister for Environment, Greg Hunt and PNG Ministers focused on this during Mr Hunt’s visit to Port Moresby.
“I am delighted to announce that the Australian Government will be contributing up to $1.9 million (about K4 million) in additional support for implementation of PNG, and related, Coral Triangle Initiative priorities,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Coral Triangle ecosystems provide food and other benefits to more than 120 million people.
“Australia is committed to the Coral Triangle Initiative and has allocated more than $13 million (K27.34m) of support since 2009, with almost $1.7 million going to support activities in PNG.”
“Practical action is critical to maintaining the integrity of Coral Triangle ecosystems that provide economic benefits and food security for the region,” Mr Hunt said.
As the current chair for the Council of Ministers in the CTI-CFF countries, Mr Pundari welcomed the support Australia has provided and expects tangible outcomes to benefit the people in these communities.
“The regional approach of the Coral Triangle initiative helps channel international attention, collaboration and support to local priorities for the sustainable use of marine natural resources for the benefit of future generations,” he said.
“Australia’s support will enable us to implement projects that have empowered local communities as well as build expertise and raise awareness of large scale marine planning and management.”
Both Ministers said they looked forward to working together on future Coral Triangle Initiative programmes including the southern waters of PNG, especially in the Gulf of Papua.
28) Attracting investors
The National,Thursday August 20th, 2015
PAPUA New Guinea’s growing economy is attracting foreign investment but was being threatened by law and order issues, a Filipino businesswoman says.
D-Signs Tailoring Limited managing director Daisy Tana, told The National that law and order was a major obstacle that distracted foreign investment despite the stable political leadership.
“The country’s business environment is conducive and is growing thus it is attracting foreign investors which can be visible in the increase number of foreigners conducting businesses in the country but security problem (law and order) is one of the major concern,” she said. Tana, who has been doing business in Papua New Guinea since 2001, believes that without law and order problems, it would attract more investment from overseas.
“Investors would not want to invest in a country experiencing law and order problems,” she said.
29) Govt hails Chinese firm’s confidence in PNG
The National,Thursday August 20th, 2015
THE Government has hailed Zijin Mining Group, a Chinese company, for choosing to invest in Papua New Guinea.
Mining Minister Byron Chan praised the company for having the confidence to invest in the mining sector.
Zijin recently announced a 50 per cent purchase of Barrick Niugini Ltd’s 95 per cent ownership of Porgera Gold Mine.
The remaining 5 per cent shares were owned equally by Enga provincial government and landowners.
Chan said Papua New Guinea had been hard-hit by the falling mineral commodity prices, but despite that and associated investment risks, Zijin, had chosen to invest in the country.
He acknowledged the international experience and expertise of Zijin that operates a number of mines in Australia, Africa and South America.
He is confident that a company with such an experience will be worth sharing.
Chan told Zijin the PNG Government was privileged to have such a high-profile investor, especially at these “trying times” which has seen a few mining and exploration companies in PNG either scaling down their operations or closing down permanently.
He pledged the Government’s support and cooperation.
“Let me, on behalf of Government, assure you that your investment is supported and both the MRA and my Department (Department of Minerals and Geohazards Management) stand ready to avail our services to ensure your investment is complemented,” Chan said.
Vice-president and executive director Dr George Fang said was eager to work with the Government, Barrick and the local stakeholders to make a long term commitment to the development of PNG, especially the mining industry.
Barrick country executive director Dr Ila Temu reaffirmed Barrick’s commitment to Porgera and its confidence that the new partnership with Zijin would enable the mine to generate even greater benefits for its stakeholders.
30) Pacific tuna catch hits record high
20 August 2015
A tuna management meeting in the Marshall Islands has been told that 2014 produced another record-setting year for tuna catches in the western and central Pacific.
This week’s Purse Seine Bigeye Tuna Management Workshop in Majuro was told commercial fishing boats caught over 2.8 million tons of tuna in 2014, an all-time record.
Most of those fish were caught by purse seiners.
The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority scientist, Berry Muller, says the bigeye tuna catch at 161,299 tons was a five percent increase.
He says this maintains bigeye’s “over-fished” state.
The workshop aims to come up with options to curb overfishing that can be raised at the December annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, or Tuna Commission.
It follows a similar meeting in Honolulu in April that considered options to reduce pressure on bigeye stocks, including limiting the use of fish aggregation devices, instituting catch limits, and modifying fishing gear.RNZI
31) New Caledonia Truck Blockade Temporary Lifted
Trucker’s Union reps discuss issues with French High Commissioner
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20, 2015) – Truck drivers who have mounted blockades as part of a protest around New Caledonia’s capital have lifted roadblocks temporarily.
The drivers attached to the nickel mining contractor union, ContraKmine, established initial blockades two weeks ago but stepped up their protest this week after the President of New Caledonia’s government Philippe Germain unilaterally broke off from negotiations.
This morning the blockades have been eased while representatives of the union meet with New Caledonia’s government and the French High Commissioner to discuss central issues.
The drivers are upset about a decision by New Caledonia’s committee for external mining trade not to approve of a number of applications to export low grade ore to China submitted by Societe Le Nickel and several small miners.
The truck drivers have crippled traffic flow in and around Noumea over the past couple of days.
The disruptions also triggered brief unrest in which a policeman was injured when a shot was fired directly at a vehicle in Mont Dore during attempts to put out a roadside fire.
The drivers have allowed access for certain people including passengers on international flights from Tontouta, but blockades are set to continue until the government restarts negotiations.
Radio New Zealand International
32) PNG gets first domestic violence hotline
By Online Editor
8:35 pm GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Papua New Guinea
The launch of the first domestic violence hotline in Papua New Guinea is expected to save scores of lives.
Donations from ChildFund Australia and $2.3 million (US$1.5 million) in aid from New Zealand will allow the hotline to initially operate for eight hours a day increasing to 12 hours from October.
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja says the hotline will be life saving because two out three PNG women experience family violence in their lifetime
33) PNG To Spend Nearly $9 Million On 40th Anniversary
Independence Day celebrations planned across country
By Gorethy Kenneth
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 20, 2015) – The 40th Independence Day celebrations next month will cost K25 million [US$8.8 million]. At least K10 million [SU$3.5 million] of this will be spent in Port Moresby to stage the main ceremony.
The remaining K15 million [US$5.3 million] will be shared among Members of Parliament and Governors to stage their own celebrations in their provinces. Events Minister Justin Tkatchenko gave a total cost when launching the 40th anniversary program on Tuesday night.
He said Open MPs will receive K100,000 [US$35,000] each, governors K500,000 [US$176,000] while three main centres – Mount Hagen, Lae and Kokopo – will get K500,000 each for their live shows.
The national event, including live broadcast, formalities, the spectacular, merchandise, city dress-up, entertainers, staging, fireworks and all operations, was estimated at around K7 million [US$2.5 million].
“This is not just about Port Moresby where we are doing the big shows, we are also do live shows in Hagen, Kokopo and Lae. Each Member has his own program in the districts.
“We are here to do something positive, we are here to celebrate our 40 years of independence and we are going to do it in style. We will give our country something to remember,” Mr Tkatchenko said.
Michelle Monsour of The Creative Management, one of the event organisers, said yesterday: “As for Jennifer Lopez I can state that yes I did secure her but the Prime Minister did not approve because he wanted local musicians.
“He did not want to spend money on a big star for a national event. It was an option put forward and she is definitely not coming.
“We do have a number of local artists and one international band.
“Yiannis Nicolau has been putting the production together and has done an amazing job. He is doing this pretty much single handedly, unlike Makoda who engaged a huge team of consultants and staff. I believe Yiannis can show that PNG is capable of doing a productions like this using local resources,” she said.
“I want to assure you that as much as possible we are using local resources. Of course fireworks and jets and some lighting effects and rigging is being supported from overseas because of the huge supply we require,” Ms Monsour said.
34) PNG’s Pini ponders Olympic swansong in Rio
20 August 2015
Papua New Guinea swimmer Ryan Pini is considering one last Olympic hurrah in Rio.
The former Commonwealth champion retired after competing in the London Games in 2012.
He returned to the pool a year later to prepare for last month’s Pacific Games in Port Moresby, where he won seven gold medals and was named outstanding male athlete.
After extending his return for this month’s World Championships in Russia, the 33 old year admits he’s now pondering one last big challenge.
“Definitely on my mind. What I’ve done preparation wise with having my appendix removed and the birth of my son – two big things that happened within eight weeks of the lead-up to Pacific Games – if I can better that for next year, which I believe I can, and my whole idea is I really enjoy swimming so I’m going to compete up until the Olympics and if I’m improving from what I have now that’s a pretty good incentive for me to go to Rio”.
Ryan Pini has already qualified for Rio in three events but says if he doesn’t feel he is performing well he will give up his spot for a fellow PNG swimmer.RNZI
35) Solomons arrive for Oceania challenge
The National,Thursday August 20th, 2015
THE Solomon Islands Rugby team arrived yesterday for the Oceania Rugby Cup which starts on Saturday at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium in Port Moresby.
Coach Philip Campbell told The National on arrival at the Jackson International Airport that their preparation for the championship had been good and the men were all geared up and they were looking forward to their first game on Saturday against the American Samoans.
He said the side had retained some players from the 2011 and 2013 tournaments and their focus was on the performance against American Samoa.
The first game should provide a key indication of how they would approach their two remaining games against PNG and Tahiti before the championship ends on Aug 30.
“For us coming to this championship, our preparations were not done by looking at how our opponents would play,” Campbell said.
“We focused as a team to deliver the expected game plans during the tournament.
“This will be our first time to play against American Samoa as they are new to the championship.
“We don’t know their style of play so we will just concentrate on our games and see how we go on from there.
“We don’t have big and huge guys but again — our preparation was took those factors into consideration.
“We are just looking forward to our first game which for us is very important and from there we’ll see how we attack the two remaining games,” he said.
He said the side would rely on the 2011 and 2013 members for their experience in leading the new players.
“All our players are locally-based except for Paul Tema, who plays in the premier grade of the Brisbane League in Australia.
“Some of our players took part in the Pacific Games (here in Port Moresby) and with those memories, they can’t wait to get on the field.”
The Solomon Islands coach said the team had one thing in mind and that was improve on their previous performances in 2011, when they came behind Vanuatu and Nuie, and in 2013, where they trailed PNG and the Cook Islands.
Fijian referees Keveni Talemaivalagi and James Bolabiu arrived yesterday to officiate during the championship.
36) Selectors after future players
Thursday, August 20, 2015
National football selectors are looking for talent to represent Fiji in future qualifiers and international meets.
Head selector for the under-17 side Shalen Lal said they needed to find good players and help them develop to lift the standard of the game.
“We are here to select the best players for our nation from the secondary schools. We know that secondary schools have produced good players,” he said.
“This is being done so that we can prepare our team ahead of the OFC qualifiers.
“I was selecting the players last year and I have noticed that there is improvement in the standard of football.”
Lal, a former Ba utility said the game has also become more competitive.
“It is more competitive and we are also monitoring the number of national under-17 players who are playing. We want to see them play before selecting them for under-20,” he added.
“They have picked up on their performance.
“There are also new players whom we have seen and we will be selecting them. Fiji is going forward in terms of secondary school football.”
He said there was a lot of work to be done for football to head into the right direction.
“Coaches’ education is important and there are a lot of coaches who have come from the program,” he said.
“But there will more coaching clinics coming up. The school coaches are doing a great job.”Fijitimes
37) Fiji football thumps Tonga, targets Asia matches
20 August 2015
Fiji Football is in talks to play a series of matches in Asia during the upcoming FIFA international windows, as focus turns towards preparing the senior team for next year’s World Cup qualifiers.
The home side thrashed Tonga 5-0 in a friendly match in Ba last night and also play American Samoa in Nadi next week, with both teams preparing for the first round of Oceania Football World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month.
Malakai Tiwa opened the scoring in the 7th minute, with Alvin Singh and Osea Vakatalesau also finding the back of the net to give the hosts a 3-0 halftime lead.
Tiwa doubled his tally ten minutes into the second spell before Napolioni Qasevakatini made it 5-0 from the penalty spot ten minutes from full-time.
Fiji Football National Team Director Taranesh Reddy says they are working hard to secure more games for the senior team, before joining the second round of Oceania qualifiers in May.
“We are talking to some of the Asian countries. We don’t want to go and play one match or two matches and come back because it’s going to be a huge cost, so we are looking at at least playing three or four matches when the window is open so at least we can balance ourself up and at least by the end of the year we have at least played seven matches”.
Taranesh Reddy says the country’s success at the Under 20 World Cup and in qualifying for the Rio Olympics has increased the interest from overseas teams in playing Fiji.RNZI
38) Pacific Games Venue costs ‘high’
By Online Editor
00:39 am GMT+12, 19/08/2015, Papua New Guinea
More than K90 million (US$31 million) in variation costs was approved “with reservations” by the Central Supply and Tenders Board in March to ensure that two major venues would be ready for the Pacific Games.
Board chairman Philip Eludeme wrote to the Pacific Games Authority on March 11 expressing concern over the “excessive” variation costs, one by 96 per cent of the original contract value.
Eludeme told the authority in the letter that “should there be any offence revealed by the audits after the 2015 Pacific Games, this approval shall not negate the criminality of such an offence”.
He said in the letter that the board “resolved to approve the variations with reservations due to the importance and urgency to deliver the 2015 Pacific Games project on time”.
The original value of one contract for redevelopment at the Sir John Guise Stadium was K7.96 million.
The variation cost increased it by 96 per cent to K15.3m.
The value of another contract at the stadium originally calculated at K119.3 million ended up costing K165.7m – an increase of 41 per cent.
For the Taurama Aquatic Centre, the original contract value was K121,346, 217. This ballooned to K157,780,315 – an increase of 30 per cent.
Opposition leader Don Polye said he had been raising concerns about the exorbitant contracts.
“Unbelievable. I have never seen variations approved to that extent,” he said.
When contacted, Eludeme referred queries to Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko.
Tkatchenko said all the Games funding was within budget.
Eludeme said in the letter to the Games authority that the board was “gravely concerned on the professional negligence by the international consultant engaged by the State to furnish detailed and complete documentation prior to the tender period for all bidders to price their bods competitively on the tender and ensure that value for money is attained by the State”.
He also raised “serious concern on how the expenditure of the project was managed, especially the constant excessive amount of variations from certain contractors and international consultants with the full blessing from your office”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONA/PACNEWS