Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1079a ( Monday 29 August 2016 )
1) PACER Plus negotiations not ‘final’: Vanuatu undecided, wants more for workers
PACER Plus, the proposed trade agreement between Pacific Islands Forum island countries and Australia and New Zealand will need to have its final terms established in October, the ministers and officials attending the ‘final’ meeting last week in Christchurch were told by Australia and NZ. Raising standards of living, creating jobs and encouraging sustainable development within our region are aspects of the plan which were made better known to trade officials last week. A package worth over Vt 600 million is involved. The agreement is described as a ‘landmark’ trade and development deal. New Zealand Trade Minister McClay said in a statement that all negotiations must be completed in October and the agreement signed in December. (Radio Vanuatu News)
Vanuatu, however, wants more worker representation in the discussions. And Papua New Guinea has indicated its withdrawal from the scheme (the tweet above from PNG MP and Governor of Oro Province Gary Juffa sums up dissenting views there). Fiji was still expressing reservations as last week’s ‘final’ discussion conference opened in New Zealand. Some eight years of planning and negotiation have already been spent on the agreement and Friday was intended to be the very last day of discussions. The government system as employed in Vanuatu enables Ministers to take decisions on such matters without all MPs having full acquaintance with the text of the agreement. It is this which the Vanuatu Council of Ministers says it wants to change with the proposed Constitutional changes. (Daily Post)
The Vanuatu strategies and quality standards for kava for export were outlined by Agriculture Minister Seremaiah when the standards were launched last Friday. And the Minister made it clear that a shortage of kava in the country has resulted from increasing exports a well as increased local consumption. An Industry Working Group (the IWG) has brought together professionals, farmers, exporters, the private sector and scientists, and Minister Seremaiah pointed out that it is clear that kava generates and circulates more money in the economy than any other activity: “more than tourism, cattle, copra and even cocoa, and most of this money goes directly to benefit the grassroot farmers in the islands”, the Minister said.
2) Fiji and EU have signed a financing agreement for the ”Fiji Access to Justice” programme
10:50 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Fiji
The Fijian Government and the European Union have signed a financing agreement for the ”Fiji Access to Justice” programme, which is designed to enhance the justice system in Fiji and provide more access for underprivileged and vulnerable groups.
Funded by the EU under the 11th European Development Fund and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the five-year programme will empower more Fijians than ever before by providing them with legal services through the key justice institutions.
The Legal Aid Commission (LAC), the Judiciary and other relevant institutions will benefit from substantial capacity building through training, technical assistance and provision of basic equipment. And Non-Governmental Organisations will also be supported to assist the LAC to reach out to Fijian citizens and provide them with the services they need.
Speaking at the launch of the programme at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, the EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs said: “’Access to justice is a fundamental principle of the rule of law. A clear understanding of the role of specific public offices, such as the judiciary, the legal aid commission and other transparency and accountability institutions, are paramount in ensuring that law and justice prevail and citizens fully exercise their rights and responsibilities. The EU-Funded Access to Justice Programme will help ensure that Fijians are aware of their rights and can action them through the relevant state mechanisms,”’ he said.
The Fijian Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the launch of the programme was a significant boost to the Government’s continuing effort to provide adequate access to justice for as many Fijians as possible. “Whether it is access to legal aid or a range of other services, Fijians now enjoy more access to justice than at any other time in our history. The European Union shares our vision of providing more Fijians with access to justice and we warmly thank them for their partnership with us.”, he said.
SOURCE: EU PACIFIC/PACNEWS
3) Tonga works on developing anti-corruption measures
A noble representative in Tonga’s parliament is hoping major anti-corruption measures can be implemented in the kingdom by the end of the year.
Last week Lord Fusitu’a submitted a number of recommendations into the House which were all accepted.
He said an Anti-Corruption Commissioner will be appointed to head an investigative commission.
Lord Fusitu’a said Tonga will also move to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption and parliament is working on a National Leadership Code.
He said corruption has impacted the whole region so it is important for Tonga to put in place measures to prevent it rather than address it after it has happened.
However Lord Fusitu’a said cultural context is needed because traditional gifts given to MPs or government members can be seen as corruption in the strict Western sense.
“We have to make provision for these kind of gifts so they are recorded and they’re put on record and disclosed so we don’t discount particular cultural practices that we have and we respect and honour them while still being as transparent as possible about the way we go about our job,” he said.28/8/16 RNZI
4) Tongan law allows forced marriage to rapist
Monday, August 29, 2016
YOUNG victims of rape have been made to marry their rapists under a law that gives parents the power to approve underage marriages, says the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) in Tonga.
The legal age of marriage in Tonga is 18 but under the Parent Consent Act 1926, children as young as 14 can marry with parental consent.
WCCC director ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the law is a violation of children’s rights and also breaches the United Nations treaty on children’s rights, which has been ratified by the government.
“We do have cases that we have documented at the centre where the young girl has been forced to marry the perpetrator who raped her,” she said.
“She’s been forced to marry the perpetrator to prevent shame, embarrassment, talk in the village. So the perpetrator will come with the family, make the traditional apology and then it’s accepted by the young girl’s family and then the decision, which is made largely by the family, is to get them married.”
In a recent address to Parliament, Deputy Speaker Lord Tu’i’afitu reported that 183 child marriages had been recorded in the country in the past three years.
He said the law was embarrassing and called for it to be reviewed.
Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki agreed.
“It’s such an archaic law. To think that parents have been given a legal warrant to sign off their children to get married at 15 years old I think is absolutely ludicrous,” she said.
“It’s a violation of the child’s rights. It’s a violation of so many human rights international law. You know, it goes against how much we value families in Tonga.”
The WCCC has also been calling on the government to review inconsistencies within Tongan law to do with the status of children.
5) Airfares falling between the Samoas
An American Samoa tourism boss says the entry of a new competitor flying between the Samoas is already bringing benefits.
Talofa Airways open its ticket office last week and will fly the route six times a day from tomorrow.
American Samoa Visitors Bureau chief executive David Vaeafe said their programme has always been to attract more carriers to help build the economy and tourism.
He said the arrival of Talofa Airways means there will soon be more than a hundred flights a week on the route and the competition with Polynesian Airlines is already benefitting visitors.
“We’ve already seen the impact of having a new player when the fares have dropped. Both offering return fares of US$150 between the two Samoas. So definitely it’s going to generate more traffic.”
Talofa Airways flies out of Samoa’s international airport and will offer better connections for travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji said Mr Vaeafe.28/8/16 RNZI
6) CNMI suffers from teacher shortage
Schools in the Northern Marianas report a teacher shortage, with only 14 percent of them fully staffed.
The Public School System also trimmed down the number of students because classrooms were already full.
It’s also reported that because of the teacher shortage, some principals and vice principals had been teaching.
The acting education commissioner Yvonne Pangelinan said the dearth of teachers is one reason they were asking the legisature to appropriate nearly $US40 million for the Public School System in the coming year.
In his budget submission to the House of Representatives, the governor proposed $US37.7 million.29/08/16 RNZI
7) PNG UPNG rikonsilieisan long Fraide
Updated 29 August 2016, 1
Ol sumatin na sampla papa mama na ol wokman-meri blong University blong Papua New Guinea bai holim wanpla rikonsilieisan oa pasin bel isi na wanbel long Fraide long Port Moresby blong statim Academic school yia blong ol.
Entrens blong University blong Papua New Guinea long Port Moresby
Despla bai bihaenim tingting blong National Gavman long ol sumatin blong tripla University long kantri em oli bin pasim ol bihaenim ol trabal wantem ol sumatin nau bai stat ken.
Planti sumatin long ol University blong technoloy long Lae, University blong Goroka long Eastern Highlands provins na University blong Papua New Guinea long Port Moresby ibin wok long protest long mekim Praim Minista Peter O’Neill long lusim wok blong en.
Oli bin laikim em long lusim wok blong bihaenim ol tokwin blong korapsan.
Acting chancellor blong UPNG Dr Nicholas Mann itokim Radio Australia olsem despla reconciliation emi bikpla samting tru long stretim ol heve emi bin kamap namel long ol University na ol sumatin blong ol.ABC
8) PNG Gavman i halvim Unitech wantem moni
Updated 29 August 2016,
Moni em blong stretim ol samting em oli bin bagarap bihaenim ol protest na trabal we ibin kamap taem ol sumatin ibin laikim Praim Minista long lusim wok blong en long ol tokwin blong korapan.
University blong Technoloy long Lae long Papua New Guinea ibin bungim planti bagarap taim ibin gat bikpela protest em ol sumatin long ol univeristy long kantri ibin stap insait long en long mun dispela yar.
Long halivim Unitech long stretim ol dispela bagarap, PNG National gavaman ibin givim 1 million kina blong halivim University long statim ken ol klass blong dispela las hap blong 2016 skul yar.
Minister blong Higher Education, Research, Science na Technology Francis Marus ibin givm dispela moni igo long Vais-Chancellor Albert Schram.
Deputy Vais Chancellor blong Unitech Dr Ora Renagi i tokim Radio Australia wantaim dispela moni halivim blong national gavaman,Unitech nau bai inap stretim planti ol samting em oli bin bagarap long taim blong student protes.ABC
9) Vanuatu tupla politikal pati bel isi
Updated 26 August 2016,
Reunification of Movement for Change Party blong Praem Minista Charlot Salwai an tufala narafala politikol pati olketa i mekem rekonsiliesen long yestede fo waka gut tugeda moa.
Nara tufala pati ia nao hemi Union of Moderate Parties blong Serge Vohor and Green Confederation Party blong Moana Carcases wea tufala evriwan i stap long peresin long olketa korapsin charge.
Olketa trifala pati evriwan ibin stap andanit long Union of Moderate Parties bifoa RMC blong Salwai an Greens Confederation i brekawe.
Public Relations Offisa long praem minista, Hilaire Bule hem se bigfala tingting nao hem fo trifala pati ia fo kam togeda moa.
Nasinol kongres blong Reunification of Movement for Change wea hem finis long Melsisi long Pentecost Aelan long yestede, hem bin votim tu Praem Minista Salwai olsem President blong pati.ABC
10) Bougainville pipal i laikim indipendans: President itok
Updated 26 August 2016, 14:15 AEST
President blong Autonomous Bougainville gavman itok ol pipal blong en igat right long vote blong kisim indipendans bihaenim Bougainville peace agreement.
President John Momis i mekim despla toktok bihaenim ol toktok em Praim Minista Peter Peter O’Neill ibin mekim long despla wik olsem Bougainville ino ken kisim indipendans, tasol emi mas kisim planti sapot long National gavman long helpim ol wok divelopman long hap.
Praim Minista O’Neill ibin tok tu olsem Bougainville i gat liklik population na tu emi no gat planti samting we emi ken sapotim indipendans.
Planti tausan ol pipal ibin dai long bikpla fait na trabal emi bin kamap long Bougainville bihaenim ol kros long ol wok mining namel long ol papa graon na National Gavman long 1988.
Bihaen long despla crisis planti pipal long Bougainville ibin tok oli laik bruk lusim PNG, na despla askim blong ol istap insaet long Peace agreement we bai oli holim indipendans referendum oa vote.
President John Momis itokim Radio Australia olsem Praim Minista Peter O’Neill iken mekim wonem kaen toktok bihaenim laik blong en, tasol ol pipal bai tokaut long wonem tingting blong ol taem oli holi holim indipendans referendum long 2019.ABC
11) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 29 août 2016
1) Le gouvernement de Nauru empêche l’ancien président Sprent Dabwido de quitter le pays pour aller se faire soigner en Australie.
Le gouvernement de Nauru ne s’est pas exprimé publiquement sur le sujet, pour le moment.
12) Maori students in NZ march for West Papua
Monday, August 29, 2016
HUNDREDS of Maori students marched to New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday calling for freedom for West Papua.
The march was met at the steps of parliament by MPs from various political parties, who spoke of their concern about Indonesian state oppression in the Papua region.
The students gathered in the capital for the annual conference Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana konga ,this year hosted by Ngi Tauira, the Maori Students’ Association at Victoria University of Wellington.
A co-president of Ngi Tauira, Raimona Tapiata, said the hundreds gathered felt strongly about the plight of West Papuans, from which they drew many parallels with how Maori experienced colonialism.
He said for instance Maori can relate to the marginalisation of West Papuans’ indigenous language under Indonesian rule.
“Especially having come from similar backgrounds, similar cultural beliefs, similar values and what our culture is all about, all those types of connections between all Pacific nations is another element that comes into play, ” he said.
Addressing the crowd, the MP Marama Davidson said West Papuans’ struggle was their struggle.
“We are standing up for up for the people of West Papua, we are standing their mana whenua. We are standing up for their tino rangatiratanga,” she said.
13) Negotiations on PACER Plus concluded
5:16 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, New ZealandPacific Islands Forum Ministers responsible for Trade and Economic Development meeting Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand, have concluded the legal text of the ‘Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus’, which aims to create jobs, raise standards of living and encourage sustainable economic development in the Pacific region.
The Chair of the Special Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM), New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay, welcomed the progress made towards finalising a landmark trade and development agreement for the Pacific region.
“This agreement is of significant importance to the economic prosperity and sustainability of a region that faces a number of unique challenges participating in international trade.” Minister McClay said.
Ministers agreed Members would work towards finalising the PACER Plus market access negotiations with a view to completing them by end October 2016. The PACER Plus agreement is expected to be signed by end 2016.
Milner Tozaka, Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, in his capacity as the Lead Spokesperson for Forum Island Countries expressed satisfaction with the progress being made to conclude PACER Plus negotiations.
“We are confident that the commitment, perseverance and good faith shown by Australia and New Zealand in these negotiations will lead to a PACER Plus agreement that represents a unique opportunity for Forum Island Countries to address the significant development challenges faced in the region, primarily through the enhancement of our export capacities to bolster economic growth.”.
14) Australia and New Zealand unveil new funding for Pacific
5:14 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand on Friday announced a joint funding package of A$7.7 million(US$5.8 million) to help Pacific Island countries benefit economically from a soon-to-be completed landmark trade and development deal.
Senior representatives from 16 countries met in Christchurch, to negotiate the final terms of the ‘Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus’ (PACER Plus) agreement which aims to create jobs and raise standards of living in the Pacific region.
The ministers agreed to conclude negotiations by the end of October and seal the agreement by December, NZ minister of trade Todd McClay said in a statement.
Opportunities for economic development in Pacific Island countries are limited because of their small size and the difficulty achieving the economies of scale needed to compete in international markets.
A regional trade and economic integration agreement, expected to facilitate trade in the countries, is likely to help create jobs and wealth in the Pacific.
The Pacific Islands economy grew at 3.4 percent to US$8.63 billion in 2015, according to World Bank data from eleven member countries that have a combined population of about 2.3 million.
The negotiations include all members of the Pacific Islands Forum: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
15) Pacific women call for investigation of women’s rights in West Papua
Pacific women are calling for an independent mission to investigate violence against women in Indonesia’s Papua region.
West Papuan human rights activist Rode Wanimbo address the 7th Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women, while Bernadetha Mahuse looks on. Photo: Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women
The call comes from the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women which represents policy makers and front line workers from 13 Pacific countries.
Representatives of women from West Papua attended the networks 7th meeting in Fiji last week and raised some critical issues and gaps in service delivery for victims of gender violence in West Papua.
The director of Tonga’s Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki said the network stands in solidarity with women from West Papua.
“Members of the network in the outcomes resolution are calling for a fact-finding mission to be undertaken in West Papua to look into the status of women and girls and the impact of the conflict and political tensions on women and girls as a result, ” said Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki.25/8/16 RNZI
16) Bishops back West Papua’s MSG bid
Catholic bishops from the Pacific region have declared support for West Papua to have a greater international voice.
The Catholic bishops said in a statement after meeting in Papua New Guinea that they urge governments to support the West Papuan people’s desire to participate fully in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia
Last month, MSG leaders deferred a decision on West Papua’s membership bid after Fiji and PNG continued to oppose its application.
The bishops have also spoken out about the treatment of asylum seekers sent by Australia to PNG’s Manus Island and Nauru.
They said callousness can never be the proper response to human tragedy.
Canberra has said its policy of sending asylum seekers into off-shore detention has stopped people smuggling and saves lives.25/8/16 RNZI
17) Germany, Poland and France to revive Weimar Triangle to bolster confidence in European Union
Updated 29 August 2016,
Germany, Poland and France have vowed to reinvigorate the Weimar Triangle group first formed 25 years ago after the end of the Cold War to help deal with the many challenges now facing Europe, including Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Leaders pledge to reaffirm the strength of the European Union
A five-page joint statement details the pros and cons of the bloc
Weimar group plan to expand to include other European groups such as the Visegrad Four with Czech, Hungary and Slovakia
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the leaders of the three countries would meet before the end of the year, and his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said France would host the summit in November.
The leaders of the Weimar Group last met, as a group, five years ago.
Mr Steinmeier said the trilateral group had played a key role in achieving European integration, and could now help to answer the serious questions thrown up by Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the EU.
“Britain’s decision to leave the EU is the biggest challenge we face,” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told reporters.
“Their decision reflects a mistake by the European Union, and we have to figure out how to correct the mistake.”
Mr Steinmeier acknowledged differences among the ministers on issues such as immigration, which were not the focal point of Sunday’s meeting, but said they would meet more frequently in the future to work on those issues and many others.
“We need a capable and better European Union,” Mr Steinmeier said during a joint news conference at Schloss Ettersburg, a castle near the city of Weimar, where the group was established in 1991.
“We must show that Europe is of use to its citizens, with concrete and tangible measures and projects — be it in the areas of security, immigration or growth and employment.”
In a five-page joint statement, the ministers acknowledged there were no simple answers for the problems facing Europe, but said they planned to show their citizens that the EU could achieve more as a bloc than the individual member countries could on their own.
“We are determined to tackle the problems together, in the spirit of a renewed mutual trust, since we are convinced that joint action of all the member states is the best option for the future,” the ministers said in their statement.
They also said they planned to meet in larger groups with other countries, such as with the Visegrad Four, which is currently led by Poland and includes the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
18) State funeral for victims
Monday, August 29, 2016
Weeping relatives hugged each other and reached out to touch the simple wooden coffins at a state funeral on Saturday for some of the 291 people killed in an earthquake last week.
Among the 35 coffins laid out in a sports hall were small caskets holding the bodies of an 18-month-old baby and a nine-year-old girl, two of the 21 children who are known to have died when the quake hit central Italy early on Wednesday.
“Don’t be afraid to bewail your suffering, we have seen so much suffering. But I ask you not to lose your courage,” Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole said in a homily in the hall, which was packed with grieving families and top politicians.
“Only together can we rebuild our houses and churches. Above all, together we can give life back to our communities,” he said, speaking in front of a dusty crucifix salvaged from one of the dozens of churches devastated by the quake.
19) Trump vows crackdown
Monday, August 29, 2016
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered fresh details of how he would tackle illegal immigration on Saturday, saying he would crack down on those who overstay their visas as he sought to quiet criticism from conservatives.
In a campaign speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Mr Trump also cited the shooting death of a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade to urge African-American voters to rally behind him, calling it an example of violence that has to be addressed.
Mr Trump, speaking on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with hay bales stacked behind him, sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the US Immigration system after saying earlier in the week that he was softening on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.
That stance drew fire from conservatives who wanted him to stand fast after he won the Republican presidential nomination in large part by a hardline stance that would include building a wall along the US border with Mexico.
In his speech, Mr Trump said he would seek to institute a tracking system to ensure illegal immigrants who overstay their visas are quickly removed, and would propose an e-verify system to prevent the illegal community from gaining access to welfare and other benefits.
“If we don’t enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border — it’s as simple as that,” he said.
20) New HIV cases in Fiji
5:12 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, FijiSix new cases of HIV were detected during the screening of Tuberculosis (TB) in Fiji last year.
National TB control officer, Dr Frank Underwood said new cases of HIV were often picked up while carrying out screenings of TB.
“From the 90 per cent screenings we did last year, six cases of HIV were diagnosed. The previous year, 11 cases were diagnosed,” he said while presenting at the Internal Medicine Organisation of the Pacific Annual Scientific Conference in Suva on Thursday.
“In 2014, 8 per cent died from TB, while 4 per cent were lost to follow ups, however, TB mortality has fluctuated over the number of years.
“The rates in the Pacific have come down and have remained fairly stable, however, PNG have continued to show very high rates of TB. It is one of the biggest drives of TB in the Pacific.”
He added Fiji recorded 41 cases per 100,000 last year.
“Incidence trends showed a decline in 1990 but then from 2010 – 2015 we’ve showed an increase.
“The annual mortality rate was 4.7 per 100,000, however, treatment success was 85 per cent.
“The occurrence of TB and HIV represented 1.5 to 3 per cent of cases in the last three years.”
He adds without the support from Global Fund and other donors, Fiji would have had high incidence and higher mortality from the TB disease.
“Our incidences would have been 10 per cent higher than what it is today and mortality would be about 25 per cent higher so going forward through experiences from the past our best interventions are basically to improve treatment support services, improve case detections, and preventative therapy.”.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
21) Trainee doctors fail exam
Published: 29 August 2016
MOST of the Solomon Islands medical students who have graduated from Cuba and are currently on probation at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) have failed their Medical Dental Board (MDB) exam.
The test was conducted by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) after months of attachment at the hospital.
Once they pass this exam they can proceed to do their residency intern program in the country.
A local doctor at the NRH, who wants his name withheld, revealed this in an exclusive interview.
He said out of the total 27 students who have completed their studies in Cuba only six (6) passed have this exam while the remaining 21 failed.
The officer explained the MDB exam is a requirement under the MHMS policy for trainee interns such as those returning from Cuba to sit the exam, and if they pass it they can start their intern program.
“It is a requirement of the MHMS for medical students studying abroad, apart from graduate doctors from Papua New Guinea and Fiji,” the officer said.
Such poor performances have already triggered serious concerns because these students have spent five years studying medicine in Cuba, it was highlighted.
The recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing in Parliament have recommended to the MHMS to put a halt on Cuban scholarships.
The source said since the return of the first group of medical students from Cuba in 2014 none of them have registered under the Solomon Islands Medical Dental Board (SIMDB) as yet.
Their performance is a concern for the MHMS, which resulted in the temporary suspension of the Cuban medical scholarship programme.
Permanent Secretary, Dr Tenneth Dalipanda said a request has been made to send more students next year, but the ministry is still to decide on that request.
He said currently there are over 80 students who have either graduated or are still studying under the Cuba programme and there is a need to integrate them first before sending more.
Dr Dalipanda said now there will be a struggle to find positions for them, and if the government is serious about integrating them, then there is a need to create new positions.
He said the idea was to staff doctors up to the area health centre level, more specifically to areas such as Afio, Kilu’ufi, Seghe, Avuavu, Tingoa and other areas that needs a doctor.
BY ELLIOT DAWEA
FREELANCE JOURNALIST/Solomon star.
22) Vanuatu’s higher earners likely to pay income tax
The Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has confirmed income tax is being seriously considered by his government.
He made the announcement at the diamond jubilee Santo Lycée celebrations in Luganville saying the planned tax will apply on incomes of more than 500,000 vatu a year, or $US4,674.
Mr Salwai said the tax is needed if the government is to fund activities such as free education for children up to year 10.
The Daily Post reports him saying every country in the world levies this tax and Vanuatu has to start taking more responsibility for paying for its development.
When the government introduced free education up to Year 6, Australia funded the initiative, but every year since the Vanuatu Government has slowly absorbed the costs and will fully fund the programme from next year.
Mr Salwai says by year 10 people become responsible and are able to decide their destiny and providing free education up to year 10 would fulfil the country’s obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children.26/8/16 – RNZI
23) Student leaders’ exclusion threatens reconciliation
Students Leaders at the University of Papua New Guinea have been told by the institution’s administration that they are permanently excluded from their studies.
Members of the Student Representative Council’s executive have received letters to this effect as students from around PNG return to the capital this week for the resumption of the academic year.
UPNG studies were suspended in July after a series of disruptions and unrest at the Waigani campus amid a six-week boycott of classes by thousands of students in protest against the prime minister Peter O’Neill.
A student leader, Hercules Jim, said he and around 60 others are permanently barred from attending the university.
“It won’t really go down with the student leaders and even the students, I believe also the staff and welfare of the university. Because we are in a process of reconciliation and doing these things in a Melanesian way, to solve this issue once and for all and let the students finish their studies.”
Mr Jim said students would meet this week to discuss their response and were likely to make a formal appeal to the University council to ask it to reconsider the decision.
However he confirmed that the interval given by UPNG’s administration for the excluded students to seek redress for their termination had already elapsed by the time most received their letters.29/8/16 RNZI
24) USP 50th anniversary preparations
Monday, August 29, 2016
Update: 2:34PM THE University of the South Pacific (USP) has started preparations for the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2018.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony on Friday, USP Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra said they already had the first meeting of the 50th Anniversary Steering Committee on Thursday, August 25.
“We plan to mark this milestone with significant events and legacies and I invite you all to be part of this exciting event in 2018 that will celebrate our achievements and regionality, and secure our future as a world-class university that our leaders, the Pacific people, and our partners can take genuine pride in,” he said.
The 50th Anniversary Steering Committee is chaired by USP Pro Vice Chancellor, Winston Thompson.
25) Call to register
Monday, August 29, 2016
A UN report on New Caledonia is encouraging those eligible to vote to enrol on the relevant rolls as the territory nears the 2018 independence referendum.
Two rolls are being worked on — one for provincial elections and one for the plebiscite.
The issues have been contentious for years as voting rights are restricted to long-term residents, with mainly Kanak politicians challenging the integrity of the roll.
The UN team has said its job was a technical one and it’s a work in progress for those in charge of finalising the rolls.
A UN official says in the report there is no reference to any alleged fraud, adding that there have been developments to improve the work and build confidence.
26) Solomon Islands political parties discuss reforms
5:11 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Solomon Islands
The chairman of the Solomon Islands Political Party Commission, Sir Paul Tovua, says political parties need to be strong enough to support stable leadership.
Sir Paul has been speaking at a discussion on electoral systems involving representatives of the country’s political parties.
They are considering how different electoral systems could work in the Solomons context.
Sir Paul says the reforms to the electoral and political parties system being considered by the Government may see changes to the Electoral Act and the Political Parties Act.
He says one way to improve the strength of political parties is to improve the way elections are conducted.
But Sir Paul says it is critical that if a change is made to the voting system, it must be the right system for Solomon Islands, one that allows the country to grow and mature politically.
27) Unions to strike over fiscal reforms in New Caledonia
10:59 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, New Caledonia
Unions in New Caledonia have called a general strike on Thursday to pressure the Congress to adopt fiscal reforms.
The Congress is due to debate comprehensive reforms on Thursday which the unions said are needed to lower the cost of living.
Earlier this month, about 1,000 people in Noumea heeded a call by the Employers Federation to protest against the government’s plan to do away with a large number of import duties and replace them with a consumption tax.
Employers are opposed to the competition segment of the reform because it would set a ceiling on the margin that can be charged.
The head of the union umbrella group, Didier Guenant-Jeanson, said the unions have worked for 10 years to achieve the reforms, urging for the package not to be split now.
He said some businesses have been exerting terrible pressure on Congress members to have their way and he has warned that the whole of the country could lose out just to satisfy 20 companies.
Three years ago, New Caledonia had a 12-day general strike over the high cost of living but two years ago a broad deal was reached for comprehensive reforms to tackle inequality.
28) Non-mining sector bringing gains to the PNG economy
10:58 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea National Planning Minister Charles Abel says the country’s economy is diversifying from heavy reliance on the mining and petroleum sectors over the years.
He told Parliament last week that according to statistics provided by the National Statistical Organisation “the non-mining sectors, like construction, fisheries, forestry and agriculture are gaining a proportion of the economy which is obviously a good thing in generating tax.
Abel said NSO statistics showed the changes.
“A major impact on the Budget was the rapid decline in mining and petroleum taxes which has fallen from around 40 percent of revenue in 2007 to 1 percent this year.
“This is resulting in a revenue (decline) of K2-3 billion (US$630 million – US$946 million) per annum coming out of our budget, on a plus side of our economy seems to be broadening showing that mining and petroleum extracting industry is declining to a proportion of GDP from 26 percent in 2006 to 30 percent in 2013 at the back of GDP growth of K25-40 billion (US$7.8 –US$12.6 billion) doubling the size of economy,” Abel said.
Papua New Guinea heavy dependent on the mining and petroleum sectors is having a negative impact on the country’s economy for the last few years because of the drop in world prices.
SOURCE: LOOP PNG/PACNEWS
29) PNG Trade Minister Maru issues Fiji an ultimatum on trade
5:18 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Papua New Guinea
Fiji has until the end of August to lift the restrictions on Papua New Guinea’s products, including its famous Ox and Palm, or risk an all out trade war.
The ultimatum was issued by Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru in a letter dated August 22 in response to Fiji Trade Minister Faiyaz Siddiq Koya’s correspondence of August 15.
“Fiji has now been put on notice and that if it fails to take immediate actions to resolve its unfair and illegal trade practices, then the PNG Government will have no choice but to take the following actions to seek redress:
*Invoke the dispute settlement process of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement process;
*Decline all other requests from Fiji exporters or PNG importers seeking to import any new food based products from Fiji including poultry;
*Refuse to be a party to the new Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement – Three, if Fiji is party to it;
*Remove duty free market access for all Fijian manufactured goods exported to PNG, under the MSG Trade Agreement.
“While these retaliatory measures will not be in the spirit of Melanesian solidarity, they will be necessary if Fiji does not show good will at this critical stage of our trade and investment partnership within the time frame we have provided,” the minister said.
Maru said he has written to PNG Ambassador to the WTO, Joshua Kalinoe for advise on this issue.
Further, to request that he (Mr Kalinoe) put the Fijian Ambassador to the WTO on notice, that PNG will not hesitate to invoke the WTO Dispute Settlement process if Fiji does not respond favourably to PNG’s request.
Maru said as a way forward and before the end of the month, PNG would like Fiji to undertake the following:
*Immediately provide a clear media release to announce that PNG goods, including Ox and Palm, are safe for Fiji market for commercial purposes and for personal consumption;
*Lift all unnecessary restrictions by the Fijian Government on any credible PNG made goods; and
*Undertake voluntary Import Risk Assessment on all other products in question including PNG’s Trukai Rice and PNG made biscuits.
This must be done in collaboration with National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) in PNG and the PNG manufacturers of those products entering Fiji in commercial qualities.
Meanwhile, Hugo Canning, the manufacturers of PNG’s famous Ox & Palm corned beef has confirmed its products are of no biosecurity threat.
A statement also contrary to Fiji’s claims that they are and the main reason behind it’s continued refusal of its entry into its market.
This was highlighted by Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry Richard Maru in a letter he has just sent in response to Fiji’s Trade Minister, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya’s letter dated August 15.
Maru said Koya has failed to clearly explain Fiji’s continued restriction on PNG’s competitive products declared for personal consumption and for sampling purposes at its airports.
“NAQIA’s advice as contained in a formal letter to me on 18 August 2016, confirms there is no technical or scientific basis, nor any biosecurity risk for Fiji to restrict our goods.
“To date, Fiji has not communicated to NAQIA or the PNG Government on the reason for the restrictions including Ox & Palm and other PNG Products,” the minister said.
Maru said Hugo Canning had confirmed also that the corned beef was manufactured to the highest of standards.
“Hugo Canning advised that Australia, Japan and UK conduct independent quality audits on the whole of its operations and facilities.
“According to a report the manufacturer had also provided to the department states that Fiji in 2004 had already cleared the company of any biosecurity and sanitation issues in direct response to an initial assessment conducted by Fiji in 2000. “They also advised that they passed all tests including meeting all requirements of Fiji’s import risk assessment exercises that had been funded by the company particularly with the issue of labelling,” he said.
“Hugo Canning is part of global company called Heinz and maintains a world standard quality assurance program that has their highest priority at all times”.
He said PNG’s import requirements of beef from Australia for the production of this corned beef are not different to Fiji and that they are similar. The minister said other countries like Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and New Zealand do not have established biosecurity pathways with PNG and yet have been allowing Ox & Palm into their countries.
He said Fiji’s unjustifiable protectionist actions are in breach of the MSG Trade Agreement (MSGTA2) and their obligations as a Member of WTO and further described Fiji’s restrictions as illegal, discriminatory and hypocritical as they continue to aggressively push to export more Fijian made goods to PNG’s larger market.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
30) Fiji overnight policy rate at 0.50 per cent stays
10:57 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Fiji
Fiji’s foreign reserves stand at $1920.7 million (US$931.9 million), which is sufficient enough to cover 5.3 months of retained imports, according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji.
A statement from the RBF last week said the board, in its meeting this month, decided to maintain the overnight policy rate at 0.50 per cent.
The RBF board decision was made on the fact that the domestic economy continued to be driven by strong consumption and continuing investment activity.
RBF governor and board chairman Barry Whiteside said “sectoral performances remain mixed. Apart from the sugar and timber sectors, most other sectors recorded higher output annually including gold, electricity and visitor arrivals”.
Whiteside said financial conditions continued to be favourable indicated by adequate bank liquidity and low lending rates, while credit growth had slowed over the year.
“The subdued global growth performances and prospects imply a possible dampening in our remittances and tourism earnings although annual projections are still higher than last year’s record levels,” said Whiteside.
According to the RBF reflecting the impact of the natural disasters, inflation increased for the fourth consecutive month in July to 5.5 per cent.
It said the increase was mostly driven by the shortages in market related items after the tropical cyclones and floods earlier this year, higher excise duty on alcoholic beverages and tobacco and the increase in fuel prices in July.
The central bank said the year-end inflation forecast remained about 3.5 per cent, however, it said over the medium term, the impact from the natural disasters was expected to taper.
“Monetary policy will remain accommodative and focus on supporting the domestic economic recovery while the bank will continue to monitor all macroeconomic developments and align monetary policy accordingly,” said Whiteside.
Meanwhile, RBF said notwithstanding any significant risks from higher commodity prices, particularly crude oil and food, inflation was expected to normalise.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
31) New investors enter market
Saturday, August 27, 2016
TRADING activity on the stock market was upbeat this week with four new first-time investors investing, with demand focused primarily on Vision Investments Ltd, BSP Convertible Notes Ltd, Paradise Beverages (Fiji) Ltd and Fijian Holdings Ltd shares.
The South Pacific Stock Exchange said the volume and value of stock traded this week was substantially higher than last week.
VIL and PBF shares dominated trading activity and all 14 trades this week were between retail investors, which the SPSE saw as an encouraging trend.
SPSE chief executive officer Latileta Qoro said this week 35,485 shares were traded in 14 transactions totalling a notable $179,337 in value.
32) Kava Export
8:08 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Vanuatu
The “Kava Strategy and Kava Quality Standard for Kava Export” was launched last Friday by Vanuatu Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah , at Tagabe in Port Vila.
“We need to work together to demonstrate to our international markets and the international community that we are serious about kava and we will provide top quality kava, safe for human consumption”.
Minister Seremaiah made the statement in his address when officiating the launching. He said there is a shortage of kava in the country both for local consumption as well as for export due to increasing demand.
“We must address the issue to help our kava farmers to increase the level of kava farming to commercial farming by way of setting up nurseries for noble kava (varieties).
“To achieve this we must all work together to support each other and the Government, the chiefs and farmers and Australia and New Zealand in our programme,” he said.
Representative of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Chief Isaac Worwor thanked the Industry Working Group (IWG) through the Government Ministry of Agriculture and donor partners for working together to support the work to achieve the Kava Strategy and Kava Quality Standard for Kava Export objectives.
Kava represents the nation’s cultural respect and identity. As such Chief Worwor said the Malvatumauri “gives its full support” to the kava industry in Vanuatu.
The Acting Chairman of the Kava Industry Working Group said Kava Strategy and Kava Quality Standard for Kava Export come about as a result of months of effective collaboration between the Government, farmers, exporters, private sector and scientists who make up the Kava Industry Working Group.
“Kava is not only a traditional drink which plays a great importance in custom and way of life.
“Kava today is a commodity of great economic importance, one of the backbones to boost the country’s young economy.
“Indeed if we include dry kava, fresh kava, shipping, transport associated with kava trade, the kava bars in town, the small (20-vatu) stalls which sell food at the kava bars, (you’d come to realise that) kava is a commodity which generates and circulates more money in the economy more than any other activity, more than tourism, cattle, copra and even cocoa, and most of this money goes directly to benefit the grassroot farmers in the islands,” he said.
In response from the Donor Partners, the Second Secretary to the Australian High Commission, Malcolm Paterson said Australia has been providing funding towards the kava programme since 2009.
He said Australia provided almost Vt2.7 billion (US$257 million) towards the overall PHAMA Programme which also cover Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
He said the IWG has done well and is particularly pleased to note that the Chair of IWG is a woman (Asinate Pikioune).
“It shows that in what we are doing to develop this country, we are making use of gender, to lead to achieve our goals”, he said.
“Kava is a commodity which has the potential to contribute towards export. To help Vanuatu to export its kava, these standards are necessary to guide the farmers, suppliers and exporters to maintain a high standard of quality level of the commodity”.
Paterson said with these, Vanuatu can build a reputation as a high quality standard exporter of kava to the Region and the world.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
33) Road ground-breaking date set
Published: 28 August 2016
The ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of the Kukum High Way Road Upgrading Project will start on September 14.
The Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) confirmed this in a statement.
MID previously set the ground-breaking ceremony for 1st September but now it has been moved to 14th next month.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will be the chief guest at the ceremony in Honiara.
The official ceremony will see MID minister Jimmy Lusibaea delivering his opening remarks, to be followed by an address by the Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Kenichi Kimiya, and the address by guest of honour Prime Minister Sogavare, and the inspection of the project board.
The official program will start at 9am with the arrival of guest and closes at 1pm.
It is understood work on the multi-million project will commence thereafter.
The project is funded by the Japanese Government and it will be managed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In May this year, KITANO–WKK JV of Japan won the bid to build the project.
This will see the upgrading of the three-kilometre segment of road from the Honiara City Council in Central Honiara to Kukum campus, in east Honiara.
It will also see the expansion of the city council round-about, turning the two-lane Mataniko Bridge into four, and redesign of the Central Market bus stops.
It’s understood overseas materials needed for the project have arrived in Honiara aboard ocean freighter Kweichow early this month and initial construction work is now underway.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO/Solomon Star
34) Police station fire following teen’s death in Papua
A police office in the restive Indonesian province of Papua was burned down on Saturday night in a riot following the killing of 15-year-old in an incident involving police earlier in the day.
The Jarkarta Globe reports that Etinus Sondegau was killed but police refused to confirm if their bullets were the cause.
It said officers had chased three people into a local market in Sugapa after receiving reports the three had threatened members of the public and were intoxicated.
The police allegedly fired shots during the chase.
A mob reportedly formed and arrived at the Sugapa Police office in Intan Jaya, carrying the boy’s body.
The station was set alight, and the local airport and mobile phone tower were closed.
The Papua Police chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw said the situation had been brought under control.28/8/16 RNZI
35) More Fijian UN Peacekeepers to leave this week
10:45 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Fiji
More Fijians peacekeepers will leave for Golan Heights this week with the return of a contingent of 100 who have ended their rotation.
Director Peace Support Operations – Commander Humphery Tawake says the peacekeepers on this mission will better equipped than ever.
“There’s been a change of weapons for our peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, more or less now we’re trying to get more equipment for them, specialised equipment to enhance their duties on the ground, night vision goggles and this and that that they can use on a daily basis.”
The next rotation of troops for Syria and Lebanon is expected later in the year.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
36) PNG High Commissioner welcomes new Chief Magistrate
Published: 29 August 2016
The PNG High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, H.E. Mr. Fred Yakasa officially welcomed John Numapo as the new Chief Magistrate of Solomon Islands at a welcome reception hosted by the High Commissioner at their new Chancery Office in Honiara on Thursday.
The reception was attended by Mr Numapo, Permanent Secretary for Justice,Mr.Freddy Mesa,the Deputy Chief Magistrate, Pastor Titus Luther of the Foursquare Church and PNG High Commission staff.
PNG High Commissioner Fred Yakasa on behalf of the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea thanked the Government of Solomon Islands for appointing Mr Numapo as the Chief Magistrate of Solomon Islands.
John Numapo is the former Chief Magistrate of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. He served as the Chief Magistrate of PNG for 8 years (2001-2009). Prior to being appointed as Chief Magistrate, he served as the Deputy Chief Magistrate for 3 years (1999-2001). Prior to that he served as a District Court Magistrate from 1986 – 1998. Overall, Mr Numapo has more than 24 years’ experience in PNG’s Magisterial Services and no doubt, brings with a wealth of experience into his new role.
He holds a Diploma in Magisterial Studies, a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) With Honours from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and a Master of Laws from University of Melbourne, Australia.
One of the pinnacles in Mr Numapo’s term as Chief Magistrate of PNG was his push for the Magisterial Services to achieve a full self- autonomy status with its own budget and administration set up.
This was achieved in 2003 when Magisterial Service separated from the Higher Judiciary.
Self-autonomy ensures that the executive arm of Government has very limited control and influence over the finances, administration and operations of the Courts in the country hence strengthening the notion of separation of powers between the three-arms of government. This was a milestone achievement indeed.
Speaking at the reception High Commissioner Yakasa added that PNG and Solomon Islands have almost everything in common. Our cultures are diverse but common and similar in many ways. The inter-marriages and people to people connection along the sea borders and main land have existed long before our two countries formally established our Diplomatic Relations.
As developing countries, our law and order issues are much more similar comparing to other countries.
The problems and challenges both countries face are similar and for someone like John Numapo with such calibre is an invaluable gain to the Judiciary Services of Solomon Islands.
In saying this, Mr Numapo is not a new comer to the judiciary sector of this country. His involvement with the Solomon Islands Judiciary dates back to his past life as the Chief Magistrate of Papua New Guinea from 2001-2009.
He was instrumental in developing an MOU on a Judicial Assistance Program under which three (3) Principal Magistrates from PNG were deployed to work here in Solomon Islands for a period 5 years from 2004 – 2009 at the request of the Solomon Islands Government.
The MOU has since expired but discussions are currently underway to renew it.
At the recent PNG-SI 12th Senior Officials Meeting in April 2016, in Kokopo, East New Britain Province, PNG, both countries reaffirmed their commitment towards renewing this arrangement.
“Mr Numapo has previously worked as a Judicial Advisor to the Magistrates Court under Australian Government (DFAT) funded SIJP for the last 3 years or so thus he is quite familiar with the issues, problems and challenges faced by the Courts here.
“With his vast knowledge and experience I am confident that he will contribute meaningfully and add value towards the delivery of judicial service and strengthening the rule of law in Solomon Islands” High Commissioner Yakasa further added.
PNG is the closest Melanesian brother and a development partner of Solomon Islands thus we are committed towards working together to achieve our development objectives and aspirations.
PNG continues to play a significant role in the development of this country in many areas such as education, grant assistance, trade and investment to name a few. PNG is committed and stands ready to assist Solomon Islands in whatever areas we can through our mutual existing bilateral relationship.
Mr. Numapo is adding to the many contributions PNGans are putting into Solomon Island’s development aspirations.
“We have a few expert PNGans working in various government sectors such as health, Banking Services and in various private Sectors and Regional Organizations.
“I therefore encourage this kind of partnership in exchange of our resources in both Countries to continue.
“In PNG we have many Solomon Islanders in the Medical field working as Doctors and I understand there are more in other fields.
“We understand our local settings well and therefore people from both our Countries must first look at our own resources before we look at elsewhere.
“I believe we now have abundance of experts from both countries. We need to trust and believe in ourselves and the partnership we have for many years.
“With these remarks may I on behalf of the PNG Government and the PNG High Commission here, my staff, their families and the PNG Community in Honiara congratulate you, Your Worship, Mr. John Numapo you on your appointment by the Solomon Islands Government as their Chief Magistrate.
“I have every confidence that you will deliver to the Government and people of Solomon Islands their expectation, as you come in with a very balanced background and experience, as you have demonstrated in PNG and in your engagement here with the Judiciary prior to this appointment.
“May you also be a good ambassador for PNG during your engagement.
“Congratulations and May God Bless.”Solomon star.
37) PNG commences programme on building resilience to climate change
7:59 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Papua New Guinea
In addressing the effects of climate change, the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is now carrying out a programme on building resilience to climate change (BRCC) in Papua New Guinea.
The $US27.29 million programme will be implemented over six years piloted in 21 vulnerable island communities in Bougainville, East New Britain, Manus, Milne Bay and Morobe.
The islands and atolls were identified through a participatory process using risk factors across four sectors.
The sectors are infrastructure, natural resources, health and agriculture against potential impacts from climate change.
The aim of the program is to bring about transformational change by mainstreaming climate resilience into development plans that address country priorities, focusing on vulnerable communities.
The BRCC intends to link National, Provincial, District, and Ward level plans and demonstrate how these can be aligned to adapt to climate change.
The programme looks at preparing climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation plans, sustainable fishery ecosystems and food security and climate-resilient coastal infrastructure and early warning communications.
CCDA acting managing director Ruel Yamuna said it is intended that lessons from the BRCC will help PNG to directly access and administer international climate funding.
Yamuna said ensuring that PNG is in a position to directly access to climate resources is a matter that the CCDA has prioritised.
“We are working to ensure that all operational and fiduciary standards are in place, so that institutions like the Green Climate Fund have confidence in PNG’ s ability to manage these funds.
“Direct access will mean a more streamlined approach to development, where PNG will be able to engage directly with the GCF,” Yamuna said.
Meantime, the role of the BRCC project steering committee is important as it will provide strategic guidance and endorsement of BRCC activities, and ensures macro level coordination to the project.
SOURCE: LOOP PNG/PACNEWS
38) Upcoming wet season a risk to PNG’s economy
10:42 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Papua New Guinea
The upcoming wet monsoon season from November to April will greatly affect Papua New Guinea’s economy.
The PNG National Weather Service (PNGNWS) reports that the country will experience more rain than expected due to the current weak La Nina period following the El Nino.
PNGNWS director Samuel Maiha explained that with a lot more rainfall and flooding expected than normal, economic cash crops will be greatly affected.
Maiha said the New Guinea Islands will be greatly affected by floods especially West New Britain Province and that will affect oil palm production.
He said high rainfall will also affect cocoa production in East New Britain Province.
“Heavy rainfall can remove the flowering for cocoa and the production may decrease after six months.
“When there’s a lot of rainfall the oil content in the oil palm fruits reduces affecting the production,” he said.
Maiha stressed that bridges are likely to be washed away, there’s a high risk of landslides and water supply can be contaminated with overflowing of dams.
Road and infrastructure construction may be delayed due to prolonged rainfall and construction companies will be forced to scale down operations.
Maiha added that these are the big economic risks that need to be considered in the Government’s planning and it’s about smart business and smart budgets.
“If you know your weather patterns, you’ll be able to make good decisions that will be good for your business, good for budgets and good for planning.”
He said long term preparation will become more irrelevant and it will be more about planning on a quarterly or monthly basis.
SOURCE: LOOP PNG/PACNEWS
39) East Timor-Australia maritime border dispute set to be negotiated at The Hague
8:01 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Timor-leste
The ongoing dispute between Australia and East Timor over maritime boundaries could be resolved in a landmark case that begins in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Monday.
In April, East Timor triggered compulsory conciliation under the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over the disputed territory that contains large oil and gas deposits worth an estimated $40 billion (US$30 billion).
Australia has refused to negotiate a permanent boundary with East Timor.
Temporary revenue sharing arrangements have been agreed to in treaties signed in 2002 and 2006.
As part of the 2006 Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) treaty, East Timor agreed to a clause that put a 50-year hold on negotiating a permanent maritime border.
However, East Timor believes the 2006 treaty should be torn up due to an Australian bugging operation it considers to be illegal.
In 2012, then prime minister Xanana Gusmao discovered that Australian intelligence agents had bugged East Timor’s cabinet rooms during negotiations.
Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) agents had placed listening devices in the walls of the cabinet office, while pretending to be aid workers involved in a renovation project.
The operation saw transcripts of top-secret conversations conducted by East Timor’s negotiating team hand-delivered to the Australian negotiating team, giving them an advantage during treaty talks.
The senior intelligence agent who ran the operation, known as Witness K, was due to give evidence in another international case at The Hague relating to the bugging operation, until Australia seized his passport to prevent him from travelling.
In the compulsory conciliation due to start Monday, the commission does not have the ability to compel Australia to agree to any maritime boundaries that may be prescribed by the court’s panel of commissioners.
Australia withdrew from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures under UNCLOS in 2002, just two months before East Timor became independent.
While this means any decision or recommendations in the upcoming conciliation is not binding, the Australian Government is making noises that it wants a resolution to the dispute in the wake of the court’s decision.
A statement issued by the Australian embassy in Dilli last Thursday said: “Australia’s statement [before the court] will outline Australia’s view of the Timor Sea dispute and how it might be resolved.”
In a statement to the ABC, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “As with the ruling in the Philippines arbitration case, we consider the decision of the upcoming compulsory conciliation binding on both sides.”
This comment could be seen as the Australian Government softening its position on the proceedings, or it could be a sign that it is extremely confident its position will prevail in the commission.
The Australian Government believes the treaties negotiated with East Timor in 2002 and 2006 are consistent with international law.
It is possible the Australian team could argue the commission does not have the jurisdiction to conciliate over the maritime boundaries when only two of the parties are present.
The third party to share a boundary in the Timor Sea is Indonesia, who has already agreed to negotiate maritime boundaries bilaterally with East Timor.
Any decision made inside the Permanent Court of Arbitration over maritime boundaries between Australia and East Timor could have repercussions for the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
East Timor is the first country to trigger compulsory conciliation under UNCLOS, and the case could set a precedent that could be applied elsewhere…..PACNEWS
40) Bougainville President Momis threatens to cancel BCL’s exploration license
8:05 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, Papua New Guinea
he decision by the Papua New Guinea Government to gift 17.4 percent of Bougainville Copper Limited shares offloaded by mining giant Rio Tinto to Bougainville landowners bypassing the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) continues to strain ties.
ABG President John Momis says, if the National Government does not transfer the equity to his government, ABG will cancel the BCL’s exploration license under Bougainville’s Mining Act, and find a new developer.
The National Government owns 19.2 percent shares in BCL abandoned Panguna Mine.
Momis said the decision increased the support to break away from Papua New Guinea on the path of independence.
“Under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility of Bougainville mining policy has been transferred so that these are now matters solely for ABG,” Momis said.
“We give landowners veto voting rights over ABG grant of mining license, giving them direct involvement in decision making.
“If Panguna does reopen that will be worth much more than the 17.4 percent shares in the current BCL. Because reopening the mine will cost about K20 billion (US$6.3 billion), definitely a new developer will be needed. The new capital requirements would then dilute all present BCL shares to tiny percentage,” said President Momis
SOURCE: LOOP PNG/PACNEWS
41) NZ Navy and Fisheries sting finds large proportion of tuna boats breaching the rules
10:51 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2016, New ZealandMore than 70 per cent of tuna fishing boats in the Pacific Ocean inspected by a New Zealand Navy operation have been caught breaking the law and among the breaches were some classed as serious.
Together with fisheries officers, a crew from HMNZS Wellington boarded numerous boats, looking for illegal practices.
Out of 34 tuna boats, 24 four were found to be non-compliant.
“There was a lot of out-of-area fishing, undeclared shark catch and also unmarked floats and equipment,” said Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio of HMNZS Wellington, which returned from its mission Friday.
As well as providing enforcement, the ship has been a valuable resource for Pacific nations that can’t afford to cover such a vast area.
“We are all about providing a sustainable fishery in the south west Pacific. And it’s our responsibility as a major Pacific player to do this sort of thing,” Lieutenant Commander Kaio told ONE News.
In the three-month operation the navy boarded over 100 fishing boats. Any irregularities found were passed on to the host Pacific nation and it will be up to that country to decide whether to prosecute or not.
While New Zealand has delivered the offenders, history shows they often get away with it.
“This evidence needs to be acted on. And what we’ve seen over the years it, on a regular basis, isn’t acted on or treated seriously,” said Tim McKinnel, a Greenpeace investigator.
Greenpeace is constantly monitoring suspicious activity in the region and says there needs to be a co-ordinated approach between those who regulate and the country the vessels come from.
“It’s deeply worrying, and suggestive of endemic problems up in the Pacific Ocean. But I would have to say, disappointingly it’s entirely consistent with our experience up there,” McKinnel said.
This latest navy exercise has been beneficial for the whole region, as tuna is a migratory fish.
It’s about sending a message to illegal fishing boats that non-compliance is not an option.
42) Local athletes ready for triathlon champs
Published: 28 August 2016
After postponing last month’s Pacific Triathlon Championships, over 15 international athletes from Fiji and PNG are ready to fly in to Honiara this week, ahead of the Championship races on the 3rd and 4th of September.
The five weeks of extra training due to the postponement has paid off, with Solomon Islands athletes in peak condition, ready for the competition from Fiji and PNG.
“We’re very excited about the race as it’s the first time Solomon Islands has hosted a big triathlon event,” said Solomon Islands triathlon coach Nathan Thomson Siofa.
“PNG and Fiji athletes are coming, which is very exciting and it’s a good chance for other local athletes who haven’t competed against international athletes before,” he added.
One of the top local triathletes Boris Teddy who has been seen regularly running through town said that “preparations are going well for the competition” and “as the host it’s important to do well”.
Teddy advises that his strongest parts of the race are the ride and run, so he’s been focussing on his swimming to make sure he keeps ahead of the competition.
Another top local athlete, Rocky Donald has capped off a hard training regime with a win in last weekend’s half marathon held at Kakabona, finishing first in an impressive 1 hour 26 minutes.
The female triathletes also put in an excellent showing in the 10km run race last weekend, using the race as a final distance training run in preparation for the Championships.
The PNG and Fiji squads have also made the most of the extra time in training, and are sending over 15 of their best athletes, plus coaches and officials, to compete against the Solomon squad next week.
Stephen Sheldrake of the Oceania Triathlon Union is also flying in from Australia to take a look at the top talent in the Pacific region.
In particular he’ll be watching how the current members of the Oceania Triathlon Development squad are going, including Solomon’s athletes Andriana, Boris and Rocky, and looking for new talent for future development squads.
The Championship race will be at Kakabona beach on Saturday 3rd September starting at 8am, with all competitors welcome and plenty of race options and activities for competitors and spectators alike.
The Honiara Hash House Harriers are cooking a bbq, Rexona are giving out prizes and the SINU rehabilitation clinic will be on hand to massage those sore muscles from racing or watching.
A pikinini race will also be held at 9am, and all fast running and swimming pikininis are encouraged to join in the fun.
And on Sunday 4th September at 8am, a special off-road triathlon is being held in the hills behind Kakabona, which is a great opportunity for all the mountain bike riders and bush track runners in town to test their skills against the fittest and fastest in the region.
Triathlon Solomon Islands is grateful to the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau, Rexona, Bulk Shop, Honiara Hardware and Honiara Hash House Harriers for their generous support which is allowing this exciting event to happen.Solomo Star.
43) PNG rugby league ref assaulted by team official
A rugby league semi-final in Papua New Guinea has ended in violence after the referee was punched by an official from the losing team.
The altercation sparked a brawl involving spectators at Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday, following Agmark Gurias 19-12 victory over Mount Hagen Eagles in the Digicel Cup domestic competition.
The Papua New Guinea Minister for Sport, Justin Tkatchenko, said the Mount Hagen official assaulted the referee because he didn’t like the outcome of the match and said he should be banned for life.
“It is totally unacceptable. We will not allow referees to be assaulted or anybody to be assaulted in our game. We’re hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 and we can’t afford to have primitive, uneducated individuals causing grief to our national sport for their own personal self-gain,” he said.
“I will be ensuring, as Minister for Sports, that the full penalties of the assault and other things are put forward without fear or favour. The first one will be that the official get banned for life from ever participating in any rugby league competition or team and secondly this is the second or third time the Mount Hagen Eagles have breached the ethics code and rugby league rules.
“As far as I’m concerned they can be deregistered and go – out of the system. If they can’t bide by the rules then they’re not needed.”
Justin Tkatchenko said he also plans to speak to the sponsors of the Digicel Cup and Mount Hagen Eagles about their ongoing relationship with the team.
“I will make it very clear to them that if they continue to sponsor the Hagen Eagles they are basically embracing what has just happened. They must (condemn) it at the highest level and they must remove their funding immediately,” he said.
“We’ve got to be hard on this, we can’t be pussy-stepping around. We’ve got to make sure that people understand that they can’t get away with these kind of actions anymore.”
The PNG National Rugby League, which administers the Digicel Cup, has been asked to investigate the incident and return their findings to the PNG Rugby Football League within five days.
The incident comes almost one year after a drunk fan threw a beer can at one of the visiting referees from Queensland, following the Digicel Cup final between the Agmark Gurias and Simbu Lion, and a member of the Simbu team attacked an official.
The Lions were stripped of their prize money by the PNG National Rugby League Board.28/8/16 RNZI
44) Manchester City beats West Ham 3-1 thanks to Sterling double to go top of Premier League
Updated 29 August 2016, 8:25 AEST
A good day for Raheem Sterling and Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s side go top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over West Ham.
Raheem Sterling scored twice to maintain Manchester City’s perfect start to the season in a win against West Ham. (Credit: Getty Images)
Manchester City was left top of the Premier League heading into the international break following a 3-1 win at home to West Ham United on Monday (AEST).
While there was plenty of excitement at Eastlands, the same could not be said of the earlier clash between two of the league’s lesser lights as West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough played out a dispiriting goalless draw at The Hawthorns.
Top of the League
Raheem Sterling may have become the poster boy for England’s woeful Euro 2016 campaign, which culminated in the embarrassment of a defeat by Iceland, but there was no denying the City forward’s class as he scored twice against the Hammers at Eastlands.
Sterling finished off a slick move in the seventh minute to put City 1-0 up before Fernandinho doubled their lead when he headed in a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick 11 minutes later from five metres out.
City could easily have scored a third goal before Michail Antonio’s header in the 57th minute gave West Ham an unexpected lifeline.
But with City’s lead reduced to 2-1, Sterling put the result beyond doubt when he collected David Silva’s through-ball late in the game and rolled the ball in from an acute angle.
“Reborn? I keep seeing that word,” Sterling told Sky Sports.
“It was a difficult first season at a new club but the manager Pep Guardiola has come in and given me a lot of courage and authority to go forward. He even had a go at me for not dribbling as much.”
City now lead the table on goal difference from Chelsea and Manchester United, who have also made a perfect played three, won three start to the Premier League season.
“When you see how many chances we create, they scored with their first chance,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“They jumped more than us but we played a good game. Our fans enjoyed it and we are happy,” added the Spaniard, who said he did not see an incident in which Sergio Aguero appeared to elbow West Ham’s Winston Reid.
Meanwhile Hammers boss Slaven Bilic lamented his side’s start to the match.
“We did not start well and straight away they (City) had a couple of corners and then scored,” he said.
As for Aguero’s clash with Reid, Bilic added: “I did not see the Sergio Aguero incident. We were going to change the centre-half anyway to go four at the back.”
Elsewhere, West Brom manager Tony Pulis was keen to freshen up his squad before the transfer window closes on Thursday (AEST) after a forgettable stalemate with Middlesbrough.
“We have to bring some players in…we need new blood,” he said.
Boro manager Aitor Karanka was pleased by his newly-promoted side’s first clean sheet of the season as they maintained their unbeaten start to the league campaign after a sluggish start against the Baggies.
“I didn’t like the first 15 or 20 minutes, we didn’t play well and didn’t play with the spirit we have to play with,” said Karanka.
“The reaction in the second half was better. One thing we cannot lose is our spirit.”