Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1149 ( Sunday 24 January 2016 )

MELANESIA

1) MSG Chair to facilitate Indo-Papua discussion
10:21 pm GMT+12, 21/01/2016, Solomon Islands

The chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has offered to facilitate a meeting between the Indonesian government and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

West Papua has seen a low-level separatist war since Jakarta took over the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare made the proposal in Honiara this week to a ULMWP delegation led by their secretary general Octo Mote.

The memberships of both Indonesia and the ULMWP were the highlight of last year’s MSG summit in Solomon Islands with the former securing associate membership and the latter observer status in the sub-regional Melanesian body.

Sogavare says he believes it is important that the MSG engage Indonesia in dialogue with the ULMWP to gauge its thinking on the issues facing its Melanesian Papua region.

Meanwhile the ULMWP has indicated its desire to establish an office in Papua to further engage with Indonesia and to try and do away with assertions from Jakarta that it only represents exiled Papuans living abroad.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

2) U.S. Ambassador Concerned About Destruction Of Papua Rainforest
Advocate says Amb. Blake may raise issue with Jakarta government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 21, 2016) – More details have emerged about the visit to West Papua by the US Ambassador to Indonesia, including American concern about destruction of rainforest in the region.

Papuan activists met with Ambassador Robert Blake in Jayapura on Tuesday to discuss issues such as human rights.

Mr Blake also discussed ongoing, rampant clearance of forest and peatlands in Papua which has some of the world’s last remaining substantial tracts of rainforest.

One of the people Mr Blake met with was Father Neles Tebay of Papua’s Catholic Justice and Peace Secretariat.

He says the ambassador was looking at how to help protect Papua’s forests, in light of commitments made at last month’s UN Climate Change summit in Paris.

“In my understanding, knowing the destruction of forests in Papua and its implications, he might raise the issue in his conversations with central government of Indonesia in Jakarta.”

Radio New Zealand International

3) Unofisel risal blong GJP

Olgeta –

Unofisel risal i soem se GJP i winim 6 jea: Alfred Maoh long Santo, John Sala long Malekula, Albert Williams long Ambrym, William Fred Tasso long Paama, Ralph Regenvanu long Port Vila, mo Andrew Napuat long Tanna.

Long Tanna Andrew Napuat i kit-kit wetem Iauko blong las jea be from Napuat i moa olfala bae hemi shud karem jea ia.

Ol foma GJP MP David Tosul (Pentecost), Gillion William (Efate) mo Daniel Nalet (Malekula) i lusum jea blong olgeta.

Ol namba ia i save jenis taem ofisel risal i kamaot.

Tankyu tumas long sapot blong yufala we yufala i bin vot GJP long snap eleksen ia!

Ta, MP Ralph Regenvanu- www.graonmojastis.org

4) Surprising early results in Vanuatu election

24 January 2016

Early results for Friday’s election in Vanuatu indicate that some veteran politicians have been voted out of office.

Unofficial results for the smaller constituencies were the first to come in on Friday night, and suggest there will be plenty of new faces in parliament.

Polls closed at 4:30pm local time, and counting began around the country soon after. The snap election was called after the President dissolved parliament last month following the conviction of 15 MPs for corruption.

Preliminary unofficial results trickling in suggest there will be a large turnover.

In Maewo, the former speaker of parliament, Philip Boedoro lost his seat to shipping magnate Ian Wilson, who received almost double Mr Boedoro’s votes.

And in Epi, former Justice Minister Robert Bohn – who was acquitted in the trial that saw 14 of his government colleagues jailed – was convincingly voted out of office.

However, the caretaker prime minister Sato Kilman is on track for re-election in Malekula.

Also, the former prime minister Joe Natuman leads unofficial results in Tanna. And the Port Vila MP Ralph Regenvanu looks set to retain his seat.

He, former Attorney-General Ishmael Kalsakau and Kenneth Natapei are among the frontrunners in the six Vila seats.

Overall, Mr Regenvanu’s Graon mo Jastis Pati is well placed to win seven seats in the 52-seat parliament, which would give the party a strong position with which to negotiate as lobbying over the formation of a coalition government swings into play.

The last results will be the large constituencies of Port Vila, Efate, Tafea, and Santo.RNZI

POLYNESIA

5) Cook Islands Top Public Servants Lack Leadership, Management Skills
Quality of service provided raised by government report

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 22, 2016) – A report into the Cook Islands public service says many people in senior positions are without leadership or management skills.

The government-commissioned report, the Public Sector Strategy 2016 – 2025, outlines a number of issues affecting government workers.

The report finds the number of people employed in the public service continues to grow, comprising almost 17 percent of the population and 40 percent of the total workforce.

The Public Services Commissioner, Russell Thomas, says the public is not concerned with the growing number of government workers, rather the quality of service being provided.

The report says there are a number of issues affecting the public service’s ability to attract and retain high performing employees.

That includes financial constraints, poor workforce planning, inconsistent performance management, the absence of career pathways and poor recruitment practices.

Radio New Zealand International

6) Am. Samoa Hospital, Government At Odds Over Debt, Loan
LBJ claims it is owed $5 million, ASG says $6 million owed to it

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 21, 2016) – While LBJ Medical Center claims it is owed about $5 million by the government, the ASG Treasury counter-claims that LBJ owes the government more than $6 million, which includes a $5 million loan the hospital received from the government several years ago and remains on the books unless a bill is enacted into law to write if off.

ASG Treasury and LBJ officials revealed this information during the Senate Health/LBJ Committee hearing yesterday called by committee chairman Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean after senators posed questions about the financial problems faced by the only medical center in the territory.

Among the witnesses were LBJ chief executive officer Taufete’e John Faumuina and chief financial officer Pauline Gebauer as well as ASG deputy treasurer Tina Va’a, who sat in for ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipea who left the territory Monday night for medical reasons.

During the hearing, which lasted nearly two hours, Taufete’e explained that ASG subsidies are in arrears by $1.1 million and that based on LBJ financial records the ASG Treasury has not submitted about $4 million from the 2% wage tax.

Taufete’e pointed to a meeting last week with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga who requested that he (Taufete’e) and Tonumaipea go through each other’s records to resolve the actual amount ASG owes LBJ. And this is what he is doing right now, reconciling records.

Va’a explained that based on Treasury financial records, LBJ owes ASG a total of $6.78 million and this includes property insurance, which ASG is paying for LBJ at $1 million; excise tax of around $679,000 and the $5 million loan, which is still being carried on Treasury Department books.

Responding to a committee questions, Taufete’e said the loan was made in about 2003 or 2004 after the Fono approved the appropriate legislation and he thought it would be paid off by now. However, he said auditors have stated that this loan will remain in the books until and unless the Fono approves new legislation to have it be written off the books.

Va’a added that Treasury is ready to write-off this loan, but ASG’s auditors say it cannot be done without a new law.

The Samoa News

MICRONESIA

7) Kiribati Parliament To Convene On February 5
22 rookie MPs to be part of effort to pick President

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 21, 2016) – The new 44-member Kiribati parliament will have its first meeting on February 5th.

22 of the MPs are newcomers.

Legal counsel to parliament, George Mackenzie, says by law, parliament has to meet one month after the elections, whose second round was held earlier this month.

He says parliament is trying to ensure that all MPs arrive in the capital before the meeting.

They will be sworn-in on that day, and following that will be the election of a speaker, with the last speaker, Taomati Iuta, reportedly seeking re-election.

Presidential nomination will also be made, with election for a new head of government expected in early March.

Radio New Zealand International

8) Kiribati Government Investigates Freak Killer Wave

16 foot wave kills four in a car near the Kiritimati port

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 22, 2016) – A Kiribati government team has gone to Kiritimati island to assess the damage caused by a huge wave that struck the island two weeks ago.

Four men died instantly when a five-metre wave hit their car by the port.

The team is led by the permanent secretary of the President, Saitofi Miika.

It will spend one week on the island to find out exactly what happened and assess the extent of the damage.

Retaake Tekabwebwe from the Kiribati Police headquarters says their officers on the island are also carrying out an investigations into the deaths of the four men.

The Met Office had issued no alert at the time, reportedly unaware of the risk to the wharf area.

Radio New Zealand International

TOK PISIIN

9) Bikpela heve long drought long Western Province blong PNG

Updated 21 January 2016, 15:53 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman

Sampla toktok i kam aut olsem sampela lapun na ol yangpla pikinini iwok long dai long hangre long Western Provins blong Papua New Guinea bihaenim bikpla drought emi wok long kamapim ol heve iet long kantri.

Sally Lloyd wantaim ol as peles pipol long bik bus long Western Province
Piksa: Wanpela mana na ol pikinini igo long haus sik long Western Province
Odio: Sally Lloyd, meri blong Australia husat ibin kamap bikpla long Western Province i toktok wantaim Caroline Tiriman
Despla em toktok blong wanpla meri blong Australia, Sally Lloyd husat ibin kamap bikpla long Western Province na isave wok wantem ol Sios na ol narapla NGO grup long halvim ol pipal long ol bikbus blong Western province.

Ms Lloyd itok, maski ol ren iwok long pudaon nau, ol pipal i painim hard long kisim halvim long wonem oli no gat rot na tu bikpla Sun i ibin kukim na bagarapim olgeta gaden kaikai blong ol.

Despla drought em El Nino i kamapim i wok long kamapim planti heve long planti hap blong PNG, Solomon Islands na Vanuatu.

Sampla itok despla drought i wankaen olsem narapla emi bin hamarim PNG long 1997 na 1998.ABC

10) Solomon Islands i givim bikpela sapot long West Papua

Updated 22 January 2016, 15:03 AEDT
Sam Seke

Ol pipol blong Solomon Islands i sapotim laik blong ol long West Papua na i askim strong long gavman blong Solomon Islands i mas sapotim ol.

Ol United Liberation Movement for West Papua lain long MSG miting (Credit: Audience submitted)
Chairmeri blong Solomon Islands in Solidarity for West Papua, Lily Chekana nau i mekim dispela toktok taim ol lida blong United Liberation Movement for West Papua i wok long bungim gavman na ol arapela lain long Honiara.

Ms Chekana i tok Solidarity for West Papua muvmen i makim olgeta pipol blong Solomon Islands na gavman imas bihainim laik blong ol.

Em i tok Solidarity muvmen blong ol nau i invaitim ol ULMWP lida ia long go mitim ol na Praim Minista Manasseh Sogavare husat i Chairman blong Melanesian Spearhead Grup.

Ms Chekana i tok Solomon Islands in Solidarity for West Papua i laik long West Papua we i nau gat Observer status long MSG i mas kamap ful memba.

Em i tok muvmen blong ol i laik long West Papua i mas stap long United Nations Decolonisation list long ol imas kisim independens.

Em i tok ol i nau gat wanpela ofis West Papua long Honiara blong wokim ol wok blong sapotim ol West Papua i kisin independens.ABC

FRENCH

11 ) Brèves du Pacifique – vendredi 22 janvier 2016

Mis à jour 22 January 2016, 18:32 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, la tragédie se poursuit dans le silence. Dans la province Ouest, beaucoup de villageois souffrent de malnutrition sévère, à cause de la sécheresse due à El Nino. Ils n’ont toujours pas reçu d’aide. 

)
Sally Lloyd, la fille d’un couple de missionnaires australiens, est rentrée cette semaine d’une expédition à Mougulu, une mission très difficile d’accès, située dans la jungle. Elle a ramené des photos poignantes d’enfants aux jambes rachitiques, aux côtes apparentes, et au ventre gonflé. Elle les a montrées au gouvernement papou, qui a reconnu qu’il n’a toujours pas envoyé d’aide alimentaires aux villageois de la province Ouest, malgré sa promesse il y a 4 mois. La seule solution est d’acheminer l’aide par avion, mais la plupart des pistes d’atterrissages sont impraticables, et surtout, c’est une opération très coûteuse. Le gouvernement n’a pas encore trouvé les fonds.
Îles Cook: l’opposition demande des comptes au gouvernement. Le Parti Démocratique a déposé un recours auprès de la Haute Cour pour forcer le gouvernement à publier ses comptes – chose qu’il n’a pas faite depuis 2011. D’après le Parti Démocratique, les ministres auraient en effet versé de l’argent à certains particuliers, dépensé de l’argent pour payer des trajets en avion pour des voyages privés,  et débloqué encore plus de fonds quelques jours avant les élections pour des raisons encore mystérieuses. 
Le Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance va organiser une rencontre entre les représentants du gouvernement indonésien et ceux du Mouvement uni pour la Libération de la Papouasie occidentale. C’est ce qu’a annoncé le Premier ministre salomonais Manasseh Sogavare cette semaine. Il assure actuellement la présidence tournante de l’organisation mélanésienne, dont l’Indonésie est membre, et le Mouvement uni pour la Libération de la Papouasie occidentale, seulement observateur. 
Le Samoa est l’une des 10 meilleures destinations de tourisme équitable et solidaires dans le monde, selon le nouveau classement annuel de l’ONG Ethical Traveller. Parmi les critères pris en compte: les droits de l’homme dans le pays et les efforts faits pour protéger la culture locale et l’environnement . Selon le premier ministre Tuialaepa Sailele, le Samoa passera à 100% d’énergies renouvelables d’ici 2017.  ABC

PACIFIC

13) Fyi.

Please note that the Pacific Community (SPC) are looking for a Media Relations Team Leader.  This is a new, senior role within their Communications and Public Information team and will be based in Suva.

People can find the job description and apply online here by 14 February 2016 – http://spc.turborecruit.com.au/job/job_details.cfm?id=358441&from=direct

WORLD

14) Google agrees to pay Britain 130 million pounds in back taxes, Opposition label figure ‘derisory’

Updated 24 January 2016, 7:15 AEDT

Google agrees to pay 130 million pounds ($264 million) in back taxes to Britain, prompting criticism from opposition lawmakers and campaigners who say the “derisory” figure smacks of a “sweetheart deal”.

California-based Google channels most profits from European clients through countries, where it pays no tax. (Credit: AFP)

Google has agreed to pay 130 million pounds ($264 million) in back taxes to Britain, prompting criticism from opposition MPs and campaigners who say the “derisory” figure smacks of a “sweetheart deal”.

Key points:

Google settles probe by British tax authority
Company agrees to how future tax would be calculated
Finance experts, Opposition say figure is insignificant, want detail on decision

Google, now part of Alphabet Inc, has been under pressure in recent years over its practice of channelling most profits from European clients through Ireland to Bermuda, where it pays no tax on them.

In 2013, the company faced a UK parliamentary inquiry after a Reuters investigation showed the firm employed hundreds of salespeople in Britain despite saying it did not conduct sales in the country, a key plank in its tax arrangements.

Google said the 130 million pounds would settle a probe by the British tax authority, which had challenged the company’s low tax returns for the years since 2005.

It said it had also agreed a basis on which tax in the future would be calculated.

“The way multinational companies are taxed has been debated for many years and the international tax system is changing as a result. This settlement reflects that shift,” a Google spokesman said in a statement.

The deal comes as governments around the world seek to clamp down on multinational companies shifting profits overseas to reduce their tax bills.

EU competition authorities have investigated arrangements used by Amazon and a unit of Fiat in Luxembourg, Apple in Ireland and Starbucks in the Netherlands, and may start new probes.

British Finance Minister George Osborne welcomed the deal, saying on Twitter it reflected new rules that he had introduced, but others were less impressed.

Opposition, experts demand explanation of Google payment

John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the opposition Labour party, said the tax authorities needed to explain how they had settled on the figure of 130 million pounds, which he described as relatively insignificant.

“It looks to me … that this is relatively trivial in comparison with what should have been made, in fact one analysis has put the rate down to about 3 per cent, which I think is derisory,” he told BBC Radio.

“This looks like another sweetheart deal.”

Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Essex University, agreed, saying that for a company that enjoyed UK turnover of around 24 billion pounds over the period and margins of 30 per cent, the settlement represented an effective tax rate in the low single digits for Google.

“This is a lousy number and we need to know more,” he said.

Between 2005 and 2013, Google had UK turnover of 17 billion pounds and its main UK unit reported a tax charge of 52 million pounds, filings showed.

In 2014, it had UK revenues of around 4 billion pounds, according to its annual report, but has not yet published its UK tax charge.

Reuters

15) Fear of job losses

Losalini Bolatagici
Sunday, January 24, 2016

WHILE Fiji will not be affected as much as the others in the region because of the withdrawal of the US from the US-Pacific Islands Fisheries Treaty, some Fijian fisheries observers will still lose their jobs in the process.

Minister for Fisheries, Osea Naiqamu said should the about 30 year treaty dissipate altogether, after the 12-month cessation period in 2016, then Fiji would in effect lose out on employment by Fijian fisheries observers among other things.

He said Fiji, a non-vessel day scheme participant, had benefited from the treaty through a memorandum of understanding between the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the American Tunaboat Owners Association which establishes the Regional Fisheries Observer Programme.

“The program allows Fijian observers to be placed on US purse seine vessels as part of 100 per cent observer coverage requirements. As vessels are now being called into port, and with the treaty’s perpetuity now threatened, there is also the risk of Fijians losing out on a significant employment avenue,” Mr Naiqamu said.

He failed to reveal the numbers of Fijians who act as observers.

However, he said, Fiji would also lose out on the project development fund (PDF) derived from the $21million contributions from the US Government to the treaty as well as the Pacific Islands parties’ 15 per cent equal share from funds under the treaty financial package.

“We will also lose out on a geopolitical relationship between the Fiji Government and the governments of the FFA members, and the government of the US and how we have brought the US and her fishing industry into the legitimate vicinity of the Pacific Islands fisheries for the past 27 years,” Mr Naiqamu added.

Pacific Island countries involved in the treaty had benefited from the annual payment of more than $171.7m from the US Government and industry. Those that will be greatly affected are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu who are members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. Fiji is a non-member.Fijiitmes

16 ) “Unpaid dues mean 10 countries (including Vanuatu) lose UN vote’ (News.com.au, 23.1.16)

www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/unpaid-dues-mean-10-countries-lose-un-vote/news-story/55bb5d9f7c01f2251af0eff2aa463f79

CLIMATE CHANGE

17) Some Areas Of Drought Stricken PNG Highlands Get No Aid
Reports of drought related deaths to be investigated

By Michael Walsh and staff

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 21, 2016) – Reports of drought-related deaths in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province will be investigated by the Prime Minister’s Office after the Government admitted some remote areas have received no relief since the start of the El Nino-driven disaster in the middle of 2015.

The probe was sparked by Australian woman Sally Lloyd, who grew up in a remote mission station in Western Province, when she presented evidence of the situation to disaster officials in the country’s capital, Port Moresby.

While logistical problems have made deliveries to the remote province difficult, the Government says urgent relief supplies are on their way.

Ms Lloyd grew up at the mission station of Mougulu, the daughter of missionaries who still work in the area.

She travels regularly to Mougulu from Brisbane, where the villagers call her their sister.

On her most recent trip there, Ms Lloyd had a first-hand look at the El Nino-induced drought that is wreaking havoc across the province and the rest of PNG.

“The lack of rainfall has really just meant that their crops have been wiped out,” she said.

“For quite a few months, including September and October, November, they had virtually no rain. Just a couple of tiny scattered showers.

So as soon as the crops failed then they don’t get to eat.”

At a small community health sub-centre in Mougulu, Ms Lloyd says the impacts of those food and water shortages were devastating for children and expectant mothers.

“One woman was very weak and trying to find food in the bush. She fainted and actually fell down a cliff, she split her head open,” she said.

While Ms Lloyd was helping out at the clinic, a woman in labour with twins walked two days from Adumari Village for medical help.

Remote areas feel forgotten

Margaret Hagobai’s daughter died after a breech birth but her boy twin lived.

“The death of the first child we actually related to the lack of food that she had, she just was very, very malnourished,” Ms Lloyd said.

Even though emergency relief supplies have been sent to many drought-affected areas, none have reached Mogulu.

Ms Lloyd says the people of Mougulu feel like they have been forgotten.

“They’d received no drought supplies at all. The only relief they’ve received is a very minimal amount of rice or things that we’ve been able to fly in,” she said.

“But I stress that that’s minimal, and just in the past couple of weeks.

“They’re at a point where they’re really quite frustrated. They just want to know why they can’t receive the same help that other people do.”

Papua New Guinea’s disaster officials first became aware of the situation in Western Province after Ms Lloyd gave a presentation at a recent drought meeting in Port Moresby.

Roy Trivedy, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in PNG, was at that forum.

“It was a little bit shocking to be honest to see some of the images that are starting to come from those areas. It is an area which needs urgent assistance,” he said.

The Government has since announced it will investigate claims of drought-related deaths in Western Province, and will aim to send supplies out to remote areas from nearby provincial hubs.

“[The] Government is trying to do more to try and get the supplies that are now in Kiunga out to some of the more remote areas,” Mr Trivedy said.

“[It’s] also looking at what more could be done, what are the other ways into that particular area, perhaps from Tari, flying some amount of supplies down.

“But this is an extremely costly operation and we’ve got colleagues from the World Food Program, as well as DFAT Australia, trying to support that initiative.”

Trevor Meauri, the deputy secretary of the PNG Prime Minister’s Office, said the Australian Government was helping with the emergency.

“The situation in Western Province is quite difficult for us because it’s a vast stretch of wasteland, if you like, people are spread over long distances,” he said.

“A lot of the airfields are not operational so we had to fly people in to assess the conditions on the ground — if the plane could actually land with the supplies. That’s something that the Australian Government is assessing.

“Either [Thursday] or over the weekend, the supplies will start reaching [Western Province].”

Radio Australia

EDUCATION

18) PNG Government Backs Away From Fully Free Public Education
Due to late tuition subsidies, schools allowed to charge ‘project fees’

By Nellie Setepano

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 22, 2016) – Project fees for all public schools are being relaxed and schools can now charge fees for this year.

Project fees are additional fees imposed by schools for special purposes as approved by the national education board.

Education Minister Nick Kuman made the announcement yesterday after the National Executive Council met this week and agreed to relax the charges for this year.

Mr Kuman said the re-introduction of these fees was simply to assist schools because of the late arrivals of tuition fees at schools and other related funding issues also faced by schools.

Furthermore, the minister said additional fees may be imposed by church agencies through schools for special purposes as approved by the national education board and the provincial education board.

The maximum project fee limit for this year is: Elementary K50; Primary K100; High Schools and Vocational K200; and Secondary K250.

Mr Kuman said schools charging these fees should not exceed the maximum set fee.

When making the announcement in a meeting in parliament, the minister said students must not be denied their education for non-payment of these fees.

PNG Post-Courier

19) Uni fees, charges VAT free

Monika Singh
Saturday, January 23, 2016

THE new value added tax rate will not apply to university fees and charges.

However, students are being urged to be on a lookout when enrolling at the commercially-run educational institutions.

Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said all university fees and charges (tuition fee, registration and library fee) were all VAT-free.

However, Ms Kumar said the privately-run educational institutions that were profit based, for example, computer schools and hair/beauty training schools with annual turnover of $100,000 had to reduce their fees and charges.

Ms Kumar said the VAT reduction must be reflected in the fee structure for privately run educational institutions this new school year.

She said the council received several queries from the public regarding the VAT application on university fees and charges and if students should expect the fee structure to be revised by the respective universities this year.

As an explanation, Ms Kumar said according to the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, all university fees should be VAT free. She said as an activity of a non-profit body it does not constitute taxable activity and is an exempt supply, according to the VAT Decree.

However, she said, if universities have book shops or have given facilities such as hall, ground, swimming pool, restaurants etc. on hire or on lease and their annual turnover was more than $100,000, then they must reduce the prices of these services to be in line with the new 9 per cent VAT rate.

The council has advised members of the public who were not sure about companies and whether they were VAT registered or not to contact the council, FRCA or the Fiji Commerce Commission.Fijitimes

INFRASTRUCTURE

20) Airlines pull Vanuatu services due to runway concerns

23 January 2016

Concerns about the condition of Vanuatu’s international runway in Port Vila has led to two major airlines suspending services.

Qantas has announced it has suspended its codeshare with Air Vanuatu effective immediately, and will no longer sell Air Vanuatu’s flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Port Vila on its website.

A Qantas spokesperson says the airline is continuing its assessment of the situation and the options for customers who have commenced travel or who are booked on returning services.

Air New Zealand yesterday suspended all flights to and from Vanuatu because of the condition of the runway at the Bauerfield international airport.

It says it will take passengers who are already in Vanuatu home on a final flight tomorrow, and refund people who have booked flights.

The airline said technical experts would be in Port Vila to oversee Sunday’s arrival and departure.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson says the airline, which flies from Brisbane to Port Vila, will send safety experts to the airport over the weekend to inspect the runway.

Air Vanuatu says it’s also reviewing the situation, and will make a decision within days.RNZI

MINING,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES

21) Indonesia Unhappy At Price Freeport Wants For Grasberg Mine

U.S. company must sell stake in complex to government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 21, 2016) – Indonesia’s government is unhappy with the price on offer for shares in Freeport Indonesia, which operates a massive mine complex in Papua.

Under divestment rules, Freeport is required to sell a 10.64 percent stake of the Grasberg copper and gold complex to the government as part of the company’s process to secure an extension to operate in Papua beyond 2021.

Freeport, whose parent company is US-based Freeport-McMoRan, has offered the stake for US$1.7 billion, which state-owned enterprises minister Rini Soemarno says is too expensive.

The Jakarta Globe reports her saying Jakarta is still interested, adding that SOE companies should have big mines and that these mines belong to Indonesia.

This comes amid protracted and difficult negotiations between Jakarta and Freeport, with both the Freeport Indonesia’s president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin and the chairman of the board of Freeport-McMoRan, James Moffett, having resigned in the past month.

Setya Novanto has resigned as Indonesia’s Speaker of Parliament after being recorded in an alleged extortion attempt related to negotiations over the renewal of miner Freeport McMoran’s lucrative contract in Papua province.

The negotiations hit controversy last month when the speaker of Indonesia’s parliament Setya Novanto was found to have sought to extort a stake in freeport’s operations in return for assisting to secure the contract extension.

Despite the huge revenues generated by the mine complex in their province, Papuans have largely been ignored by the negotiations.

The Papua provincial governor, Lukas Enembe earlier indicated his administration would push to get a ten percent stake in the Indonesian component of Freeport.

Governor Enembe said that Mimika regency has sued Freeport over the traditional ownership of the land because the company hasn’t paid anything to the local community for use, and destruction, of its environment.

Radio New Zealand International

22) OK Tedi plans March return
9:13 pm GMT+12, 19/01/2016, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s largest copper mining company, OK Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) is expected to resume operation in March, according to Papua New Guinea Treasury secretary Dairi Vele.

He told The National that board members of the OK Tedi Mining Limited met last month and decided to resume operation in March.

“In December, the board of OK Tedi held a meeting and came up with a decision that the mine to resume operation in March,” he said.

OTML suspended operations on August 22 last year after drought conditions resulted in a decrease in the level of the Fly River.

It affected the national economy and the Government revenue.

Bank of Papua New Guinea’s Loi Bakani said the decline in the country’s economy was attributed to expected significant decline in the mining and manufacturing sectors as a result of lower international commodity prices and government spending.

“With lower international commodity prices including oil and the temporary shutdown of the Ok Tedi Mine, Government revenue is significantly lower than budgeted and will impact on public spending,” Bakani said last year.

OTML managing director Peter Graham said in a statement last year that the reopening of the mine was dependent on the weather conditions in Western and areas along the Fly river catchment.

“We are looking forward to restarting operations in OK Tedi just as weather permits,” Graham said.

“Our target is February-March.

“We will come back afterwards and we will come back as a stronger and longer company from the experiences of the long dry weather, said Graham.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

23) PITIA relocates from Tonga to Solomons
01:02 am GMT+12, 18/01/2016, Solomon Islands

Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) is relocating its Secretariat from Tonga to Honiara.

And Solomon Islander John Maefiti has been appointed its new Executive Officer.

The relocation follows a decision by PITIA’s executive board in November 2015.

The day-to-day business of PITIA is undertaken by the Secretariat with oversight by a Board of Directors which consists of a senior industry representatives from its member associations and chaired by Frank Wickham, General Manager of National Fisheries Developments Ltd (NFD), Solomon Islands.

The PITIA office is hosted by NFD and located in the Panatina Plaza in Honiara.

PITIA is the regional body for national fisheries associations in Pacific Island Countries (PICs), with membership open to all the Forum Island Countries industry bodies except Australia, New Zealand and Tokelau.

PITIA’s focus is primarily the commercial fishing of tuna however through its working relationship with Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) as the PIPSO’s Fisheries Working Group, PITIA is also  involved in the other sub-sectors of fisheries.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER


24) ‘Secret Russian arms donation to Fiji raises concerns of bid for Pacific influence’, The Guardian (Australia), 22.1.16 :

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/22/secretive-shipment-of-arms-donated-by-russia-to-fiji-raises-concerns?CMP=soc_567

SPORT
25) PNG women football team meet New Zealand in Rio qualifier match
10:10 pm GMT+12, 21/01/2016, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Senior Womens Football team is all set to meet New Zealand this Saturday in the home game for the 2016 Rio Olympic Qualifier.

Assistant Coach Susan Watpore, who has been with the players for the past three days says PNG will be banking on experienced players from the 2015 Pacific Games to lead the charge on Saturday.

PNG womens soccer, who are ranked 49th out of 140 countries will be out for a big challenge against New Zealand who are ranked 16th on the FIFA world rankings.

The New Zealand All White Ferns women’s soccer team arrived into the country Thursday and transited to Lae via Port Moresby.

SOURCE: NBC NEWS/PACNEWS

26) Start date pushed back for 2017 Mini Games in Vanuatu
7:19 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2016, Vanuatu

The start date for the 2017 Pacific Mini Games has been pushed back by three months as delays continue to plague the construction process in Vanuatu.

Work has yet to begin on the main Korman site in Port Vila, 10 months after initial delays caused by Cyclone Pam.

The CEO of the 2017 Mini Games, Joe Carlo, says the Chinese government will build the bulk of the facilities but there is still no concrete date yet for when that work will begin.

“That’s going to be coming from the Chinese so hopefully they’ve been saying that it should be completed by mid 2017, with the Games now going to be held in early December 2017. The timeline is much dependent on the Government because the general election takes place on Friday 22nd of January so hopefully after Friday, with the Government formation, it will pave the way for us to move forward on the project”.

Carlo says organisers plan to speak with the Government and the Chinese following the outcome of the election this Friday and everything remain on hold until then.

He says the change in dates is because a number of regional football tournaments are already taking place in September but it will give them some extra time to ensure everything is ready.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

27) Papua New Guinea offers to assist Tonga prepare for the 2019 Pacific Games

9:49 pm GMT+12, 18/01/2016, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has reaffirmed its commitment to assist the island Kingdom of Tonga in hosting the next Pacific Games in 2019.

Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill made the assurance to his visiting Tongan counterpart in Port Moresby Monday during a bilateral meeting.

PNG has also offered to lend its expertise at the request of the Tongan Government.

The Tongan Prime Minister was accompanied by a delegation which included Tonga’s CEO for Sports and Minister for Internal Affairs. Also present was PNG’s Minister for Sports and Tourism, Justin Tkatchenko.

In a closed-door meeting, both Prime Ministers exchanged gifts and discussed matters of mutual interest.

In the media conference that followed, Prime Minister Pohiva said Tonga needed help to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

“Tonga does not have the financial and technical capacity to host the sport,” Pohiva said.

Prime Minister O’Neill announced that the PNG government would lend a helping hand.

“Today, I want to on behalf of the Papua New Guinea government, state that Papua New Guinea will support the Tongan government in the hosting of 2019 Pacific Games. This is a commitment we made at the last 2015 Games that we hosted,” O’Neill announced.

O’Neill said Tonga is in a similar situation to where PNG was, where it inherited from the previous government the task of hosting the regional games. He said PNG has experience in delivering the games under difficult circumstances.

“As a country we have the experience in hosting games as such under difficult circumstance. We have offered them that we will give them the expertise that they require. Some of the management of our South Pacific Games will be available at request from the Tongan government; if they require, we will assist them,” O’Neill said.

PNG has also offered to rebuild the main stadium, which will be hosting the track and field events in the capital Nuku’alofa. PNG will also assist to build a High Performance Centre.

The Tongan Prime Minister was grateful for the pledge of assistance.

“I must thank you once again and the Minister of Sport and Tourism, a very active Minister, I listened to him very carefully…you have enormous natural resources here in Papua New Guinea. All you have to do is manage your resources, your human and natural resources and then Papua New Guinea will be the most powerful nation in the South Pacific,” Pohiva said.

The delegation from Tonga will depart PNG today, having visited sports facilities in Port Moresby.

When asked about the monetary value of Papua New Guinea’s assistance to Tonga in hosting the 2019 Pacific Games, the Prime Minister said a final decision will be made following recommendations from an assessment team which will travel to Tonga.

SOURCE: EMTV/PACNEWS

28) Roosters rule FNRL Ra 9s tournament

Maciu Malo
Sunday, January 24, 2016

SABETO Roosters rule the Fiji National Rugby League 9s Series after winning the Ra tournament at Ra High School ground yesterday.

The side won the first tournament in Nadi a fortnight ago and put the icing on the cake yesterday in an all Sabeto affair in the final.

Sabeto Roosters 1 defeated Coastline Roos 4-0 in a titanic semi-final while Roosters 2 downed Korolevu 8-4 in another exciting battle.

The final was a lackluster affair as both teams knew the $1000 top prizemoney would go to Sabeto and the outcome of the match did not matter to them.

The number one team had the last laugh winning the final 12-4. Roosters head coach Vuate Maravu thanked his troops for another fairytale ending.

“Having two teams in the final is a milestone achievement for our club and I thank the boys for their effort,” he said.

“We are also happy to win two tournaments in a row.”

He said the win had set the platform for another successful outing in Sigatoka this weekend. The third tournament will be held at Lawaqa Park on Saturday.Fijitimes

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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