Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1081 ( Sunday 22 January 2017 )
Hope you well.
Wishing you , family and friends, a very Happy New Year 2017!
Bonne Annee 2017! / Hapi Niu Yia 2017!
Cordialement / Kind regards.
1) Magnitude 7.9 earthquake near Papua New Guinea 22/01/17.
A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has struck Papua New Guinea, but has not caused any tsunami threat for New Zealand.
The earthquake was 136km deep and struck 41km west of Arawa on Bougainville island, Papua New Guinea.
The earthquake triggered a tsunami alert for several Pacific islands, but was subsequently wound back to cover just PNG and the neighbouring Solomon Islands.
Austhorities in Australia and New Zealand both said they had assessed the threat and there was no danger to their coastlines.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) downgraded the quake from an initial measurement of magnitude 8.0. It struck some 47kms west of Arawa on the north coast of Bougainville Island at a depth of 154km, USGS reported.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in an updated advisory that waves of 0.3m to 1m above tidal level were possible along the coasts of PNG and the Solomon Islands. It wound back an earlier alert that encompassed Nauru, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Vanuatu, Chuuk and Indonesia.
Quakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”, a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.
Loti Yates, the director of the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office, said people had been told to move to higher ground in Choiseul and Western Province.
“That isn’t the only fear we have,” Mr Yates told Reuters by phone from the capital of Honiara, adding that his office was trying to contact communities closest to the quake’s epicentre.
“We are also worried about damage from the earthquake.”
Chris McKee, assistant director at PNG’s Geophysical Observatory Office in Port Moresby, said there were no initial reports of damage from near the epicentre of the quake, which is sparsely populated.
“Because of the great depth of the earthquake it is unlikely that there will be any significant tsunami activity,” Mr McKee said.
Bougainville Island is one of the islands that make up the Autonomous Region of Bougainville within Papua New Guinea which is home to around 300,000 people.
– Reuters / RNZ-
2) MSG chair postpones PNG leg of Melanesia tour
00:49 am GMT+12, 20/01/2017, Solomon Islands
The chairperson of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has postponed the PNG leg of his Melanesia tour.
The tour, his second as chairperson, is to discuss the restructuring of the MSG Secretariat in Vanuatu and the revision of MSG Membership Guidelines with other MSG leaders.
Earlier this week Sogavare met with his Vanuatu counterpart, Charlot Salwai in Port Vila and also with FLNKS spokesperson Victor Tutugoro.
Today he met with the Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in Suva.
Following that meeting Sogavare was supposed to fly to Port Moresby to meet with PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
But this leg of the tour has now been postponed until February.
Sogavare, who flies back to Solomon Islands on Sunday, said he would not be releasing a statement on the outcome of the tour until he completes the PNG leg in February.
The MSG secretariat in Port Vila has been plagued by issues with funding and its overhaul was recommended by an independent review commissioned because of persistent funding problems and the review of membership guidelines has arisen over the issue of West Papuan membership to the Melanesian Spearhead group.
Solomon Islands and Vanuatu favour West Papuan Membership while Fiji and Papua New Guinea support Indonesia’s view that it should represent West Papuan interests in the group.
3) Fiji inks revised MSG Trade Agreement that covers services and investment
00:50 am GMT+12, 20/01/2017, Fiji
Fiji initialled the newest version of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Free Trade Agreement at a meeting between Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the chairperson of the MSG and Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare in Suva today.
Bainimarama said the new agreement ‘marks a new era for the MSG and will lay a solid economic foundation suited to address a number of emerging issues’ faced by the four MSG countries – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS in New Caledonia.
The new MSG Trade Agreement was re-negotiated over two years. “Our re-negotiated agreement is stronger, clearer, more accommodating and more co-operative than ever before.”
“This new agreement will be the first time that Fiji is making commitments in services and investment under a regional trade agreement. This is because we believe in the citizens of each of our countries and we believe in our collective potential, said Bainimarama.
He said the ‘trust and faith we place on our fellow MSG countries is unrivalled.’
‘Though we are small nations, we are seizing the opportunity to control our own collective destiny as much as we can – to advance by our own efforts, by the strength of our own will, and by the power and ingenuity of our own people.
Bainimarama told the visiting MSG Chair that member countries have the right to be extremely proud of their commitments to the revised trade agreement.
He urged Solomon Islands to sign up to the trade agreement and offered Fiji’s assistance with the transition to implement provisions of the new trade agreement.
“We look forward to the Solomon Islands joining us as well, so that goods can flow freely across our borders and our people can all enjoy competitive pricing, greater exports and greater selection of goods and services within our economies.
The Fijian leader said the historic signing of the trade agreement is a clear reflection of the unity and strength of the MSG sub regional group.
“We can never be certain of what is to come, but united behind this agreement, I can say confidently that the MSG will be ready for whatever challenges we have yet to face, said Bainimarama.
4) West Papua bai nonap kamap Full Memba blong MSG inap PNG na Fiji i oraitim
Postim 19 January 2017, 14:49 AEDT
United Liberation Movement for West Papua bai em i nonap kamap full memba blong Melanesian Spearhead Group inap long ogeta 5-pela full memba nau ia i wanbel longen.
Dispela toktok i stap insait long mama agriment we i setim ap MSG we i tok olgeta lida imas gat consensus oa wanbel longen.
Solomon Islands, Vanuatu na ol FLNKS blong New Caledonia i laik long West Papua we i nau gat Observer status tasol, long kamap olsem full memba long MSG.
Tupela narapela memba, Papua New Guinea na Fiji ino wanbel long West Papua i kamap full memba.
Praim Minista blong Vanuatu Charlot Salwai na FLNKS Lida Victor Tutugoro ibin toktok long dispela isiu wantaim Chairman blong MSG, Solomon Islands Praim Minista Manasseh Sogavare long Port Vila dispela wik.
Mr Sogavare i nau wok long raun igo long toktok wantaim ol MSG lida.ABC
5a) Papeete Accords due to be signed within months
10:59 pm GMT+12, 18/01/2017, French Polynesia
France has confirmed that it will sign the so-called Papeete Accords with French Polynesia before the end of Francois Hollande’s term as president to recognise the nuclear legacy.
This was announced by the territory’s French High Commissioner Rene Bidal in Paris.
The Accords provide the creation of a memorial, the clean-up of the former military base on Hao atoll as well as the compensation for the victims of the French nuclear weapons tests carried out in the South Pacific between 1966 and 1996.
The Accords are also slated to create real equality between the French mainland and French Polynesia whose economy is lagging behind.
Last year, French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch said the Papeete Accords would redefine the relationship which he said he would like to tie into the framework of the United Nations.
This is to counter the 2013 reinscripton of French Polynesia on the UN decolonisation list, which France has refused to recognise.
5b ) Guam governor vetoes minimum wage raise
5:52 pm on 21 January 2017
Guam’s governor has vetoed legislation that would have incrementally raised the territory’s minimum wage over the next two years.
Instead, Eddie Calvo has submitted his own measure that proposes a one-off 95 cent increase.
The Pacific Daily News reports that under the proposed bill, the minimum wage would have increased incrementally to US$9.20 on 1 May, then to US$10.10 on 1 May, 2018.
But Mr Calvo says the bill was premature as the government is still waiting on a report into the impacts of the last minimum wage increase in 2015.
Under his own proposed bill, there would instead be a one-off increase to US$9.20 after the report is released, and includes other caveats that would prevent employers reducing hours or benefits.RNZI
6a ) Palau’s new government to invest in people and the environment
5:48 am on 21 January 2017
Hundreds of well-wishers and supporters gathered at the Capitol Building in Melekeok State in Palau on Thursday to witness the inauguration and installation ceremony of the 10th constitutional government.
According to the website, Pacific Note, the country’s newly sworn-in president Tommy Remengesau said in his inauguration message that in his second term he would focus on developing what he described as the country’s greatest assets, its people and the environment.
Mr Remengesau announced that in early days of his new government he aimed to introduce legislation to increase the minimum wage, put a cap on campaign spending, promote high value, high end tourism and increase social security benefits for the people.
He said Palau must ensure its economic development is sustainable in order for it to be able to expand investment opportunities while at the same time protecting the environment for future generations.
Tommy Remengesau also said he would continue to fight climate change and maintain strong alliances with partner nations across the globe.RNZI
6b) Nauru Airlines can fly to Guam
10:59 pm GMT+12, 19/01/2017, Guam
A foreign air carrier permit filed by Nauru Air Corporation was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The decision grants Nauru Airlines exemption authority to permit it to engage in scheduled foreign air transportation of persons, property and mail between Nauru and Guam via intermediate points Tarawa, Majuro and Pohnpei. The first flight is scheduled for late March.
Nauru Airlines also was granted exemption authority via a tentative foreign air carrier permit to charter flights between Nauru and the United States for a year or until permit authority becomes effective, whichever occurs earlier.
The department based its decision on public interest, as well as the fact that Nauru Airlines is wholly owned by its government. The board of directors for Nauru Air Corporation includes one Australian and five Nauruan citizens. The corporation’s chairman, chief executive officer, officers and key management personnel are all Australian citizens.
In November 2016, Nauru Air Corporation filed for a foreign air carrier permit with exemption authority to allow Nauru Airlines to offer one round-trip flight per week between Nauru and Guam via Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. In its application, Nauru Airlines estimated Guam-Nauru traffic at 2,500 passengers, both inbound and outbound.
In annual revenue, the airline estimated $2,605,660 for flights between Guam and Pohnpei, and $433,680 annually between Guam and Majuro, for an estimated total revenue of $3,039,041 from Guam traffic.
SOURCE; PACIFIC DAILY NEWS/PACNEWS
7a) Brèves du Pacifique – vendredi 20 janvier 2017
8b) Pacific Islanders Call for U.S. Solidarity on Climate Change
11:13 pm GMT+12, 19/01/2017, United States
The new political power of business magnate Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated Jan. 20 as the 45th President of the United States, will have ramifications for every global region, including the Pacific Islands.
Pacific leaders who are witnessing rising seas, coastal erosion and severe natural disasters in the region are alert to the new president’s declared scepticism about climate change and the contributing factor of human activities. His proposed policy changes include cutting international climate funding and pushing ahead fossil fuel projects.
“It is sad for us who rely on the United States to do the right thing and to hear the president embarking on the opposite path, which is ensuring our destruction.” — Reverend Tafue Lusama
They say the United States’ solidarity on climate change action is vital to protecting people in developing and industrialised nations from climate-driven disasters, environmental degradation and poverty.
There are 22 Pacific Island states and territories and 35 percent of the region’s population of about 10 million people lives below the poverty line. One of the most vulnerable to climate change is the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu, home to about 10,000 people spread over nine low lying coral islands.
“Tuvalu is among the poorest in the world, it is isolated, small and low in elevation. All aspects of life, from protecting our small land to food security, from our marine resources to our traditional gardens are being impacted by climate change. All the adaptation measures that need to be put in place need international climate funding. With Trump’s intended withdrawal pathway, our survival is denied and justice is ignored,” Reverend Tafue Lusama, General Secretary of the Tuvalu Christian Church and global advocate for climate action, told IPS.
Trump’s 100-day action plan, issued during last year’s presidential campaign, claims it will tackle government corruption, accountability and waste and improve the lives of U.S. citizens who have been marginalised by globalisation and ‘special interests’ of the political elite.
But his intended actions include cancelling billions in payments to United Nations climate change programmes, aimed at assisting the most vulnerable people in developing countries, and approving energy projects, worth trillions of dollars, involving shale, oil, natural gas and coal in the United States in a bid to boost domestic jobs.
Last December, 800 scientists and energy experts worldwide wrote an open letter to the then president-elect encouraging him to remain steadfast to policies put forward during the Barack Obama administration such as reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, which in association with industrial processes accounts for 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting renewable energy development.
“It is sad for us who rely on the United States to do the right thing and to hear the President embarking on the opposite path, which is ensuring our destruction,” Reverend Lusama added.
London-based Chatham House claims that a key success of the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in 2015 was the supportive ‘alignment’ of the United States, the second largest emitter accounting for 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Here the United States joined the High Ambition Coalition, a grouping of countries committed to rigorous climate targets, which was instrumental in driving consensus that global warming should be kept lower than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Increased global warming could be disastrous for Pacific Island states with many already facing a further rise in sea levels, extremely high daily temperatures and ocean acidification this century, reports the Pacific Climate Change Science Program.
In 2015 the region was hit by a severe El Nino climate cycle which ‘forced people to walk for days seeking sustenance…and, in some cases, to become severely weakened or die from malnutrition,’ Caritas reports. In Papua New Guinea, 2.7 million people, or 36 percent of the population, struggled with lack of food and water as prolonged drought conditions caused water sources to dry up and food crops to fail.
And a consequence of more severe natural disasters in the region is that their arc of impact can be greater.
“Kiribati is one country in the world that is very safe from any disaster….[but] during Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu [in 2015] and Cyclone Winston, which hit Fiji [in 2016], the effects also reached Kiribati, which has never happened in the past,” Pelenise Alofa, National Co-ordinator of the Kiribati Climate Action Network, told IPS.
The economic toll of natural disasters is well beyond the capacity of Kiribati, a Least Developed Country with the third lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world in a ranking of 195 countries by the World Bank.
“It is not in a position to meet its own adaptation needs because the climate change problems are too enormous for a small country like Kiribati to have enough resources to meet the problem head on,” Alofa said.
The economic burden extends to replacing coastal buildings at risk of climate change and extreme weather, which would cost an estimated total of 22 billion dollars for 12 Pacific Island nations, claims the University of New England in Australia. The risk is very high in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, where more than 95 percent of built infrastructure is located within 500 metres of a coastline.
Recently several Pacific Island countries benefitted from the United Nations-administered Green Climate Fund (GCF), the largest multilateral climate fund dedicated to assisting developing countries cope with climate change. Three grants, ranging from 22 million to 57 million dollars, were awarded for a multiple Pacific nation renewable energy programme, to enable Vanuatu to develop climate information services and Samoa to pursue integrated flood management.
But the GCF, to which the United States, its largest benefactor, has committed 3.5 billion dollars, could suffer if Trump follows through on his promise, given that international pledges currently total 10.3 billion.
Ahead of the next United Nations climate change conference, to be chaired by Fiji in Bonn, Germany, in November, Pacific Island leaders are keen that President Trump visits the region. President Bainimarama has already invited him to Fiji and the Reverend Lusama would like him to also “visit Tuvalu to witness first-hand the proof which is so obvious to the naked eye of climate change impacts.
SOURCE: INTER PRESS SERVICE/PACNEWS
13b) Suicide cases increase
Sunday, January 22, 2017-Fijitimes
Update: 5:06PM POLICE have asked that people with emotional problems remember that “there is always a solution to their troubles.”
A statement from the Fiji Police Force today echoes a regular warning after internal analysis found that an increase of suicide cases to six this year compared to five for the same period last year.
The force said there were eight attempted suicides compared to six last year at this time.
“Another two attempted suicide cases were reported in the Western Division recently and with the reasons linked to relationship problems, we are stressing the importance of dialogue,” the police force said.
“There are also institutions that can offer assistance or are willing to give counseling in times of difficult situations.”
“People are different and will handle situations differently and while some situations might be difficult to handle, please know that resorting to such drastic measures is never a solution as there is always someone who is willing to listen and help.”
13b) First year USP students to get tablets
Sunday, January 22, 2017-Fijitimes
EVERY new undergraduate student at the University of the South Pacific (USP) will get android tablets as the university expands its mobile learning platforms.
The android tablet, with full accessories and functional operating systems will be offered to each undergraduate who has paid their first semester fees.
A statement from the University quotes Professor Rajesh Chandra the vice-chancellor and president of USP as saying �the world of learning was being dramatically disrupted and transformed by new digital learning opportunities. USP has always been a pioneer in distance and flexible learning.�
Chandra said the university reassessed its information and communication infrastructure to keep up with global changes.
“With the influx of mobile computing through notebooks and tablets, USP has formulated a bold new strategy for its digital transformation,” he said.
He said the university was implementing initiations to transition to a long term higher education strategy. The strategy includes maintaining student access ratios, maintaining specialised computer labs, design of collaboration spaces, strengthening wireless coverage accessibility and speed and support for the USP Tablet project.
“The University first experimented with giving 600 tablet computers two years ago and research done at that time was very encouraging. In its latest scheme, the University has taken account of its earlier experiment and international best practice.”
14) Separate lines for poll
January 20, 2017The NationalNational
By MALUM NALU
ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato wants to see a separate line for women, the elderly and disabled people to the polling station make voting easier for them.
“We want to make some reforms in the polling stations,” he told The National.
“I want to have two lines entering the polling station. We give access to women and girls, including the elderly and disabled, on one line while the males stand in the other line.
“In my view, that is a good start so that we allow women and girls including the elderly and marginalised people to have access to the polling station.”
Gamato said if the number of voters in a particular area was high, more issuing stations should be set up and ballot papers issued.
“In that way, we deal with that (issue of ballot papers) quickly,” he said.
“If we have two lines, and more issuing stations, women and girls can have access to the ballot papers to cast their votes. Those are some small things, but very important fundamentals, in terms of giving access to women and girls.”
The 2017 general election will begin with the issuing of the writs on April 20.
This may be moved to May 20 if Parliament approves a proposal by Gamato.
15) Sth Bougainville na Western Solomon i harim New Dawn FM
Updated 20 January 2017, 13:28 AEDT
New Dawn FM komiuniti broadcaster i gohet mekim hisrori long sait long broadcasting long Autonomous Region blong Bougainville long wanem em bai nau broadcast tu long southern region blong Bougainville.
Ol pipol blong South Bougainville i hamamas long bai ol i nau nap harim long redio ol nius na infomesen blong Bougainville yet, PNG, long rijin na long world taim New Dawn FM i stat broadcast long Buin long naba 31 dispela mun.
Managing Director blong New Dawn FM, Aloysius Laukai i tok ol ibin testim pinis signal na ol pipol blong Bana, Siwai, Buin na sampela hap blong Solomon Islands i tok ol iksim klia gut tru.
Em i tok New Dawn bai broadcast long 89.9 FM from studio blongen long Buka na bai tupela wanwan 1 Kilowatt Transmitter blong ol long Arawa na Buin bai i re-transmitim.
Mr Laukai i tok ikam inap nau ia, planti long ol pipol long South Bougainville i save harim tasol broadcast blong SIBC long Solomon Islands.
Em i tok ol i nau bai ken harim tu ol broadcast blong ol awarenes long ol wok we Autonomous Bougainville Gavman i wokim long sait long referendum long independence or nogat long Papua New Guinea.ABC
16 ) 160117BUIN FM ON
By Aloysius Laukai in Buin
Buin and South Bougainville has received FM signals for the first time since Bougainville was discovered in the 18th century.
New Dawn FM a local Bougainville station started testing its signals yesterday from its base in Buin town and received comments from BANA, SIWAI, BUIN and parts of Solomon islands last night.
NEW DAWN FM will be broadcasting on 89.9 FM Band from its studio in Buka and retransmitted in Buin and Arawa.
New dawn FM which started broadcasting in April 2008 has finally reached the home in South Bougainville after any setbacks and has a 1 Kilowatt Transmitter each for Arawa and Buin whilst the signals in Buka will be increased from 30watts to 300watts today, Monday 16th January 2017.
Since its inception, New Dawn FM has received support from the ABG through Program sponsors, the Bougainville Copper Foundation for its Arawa Transmitters,Member for South Bougainville, TIMOTHY MASIU for the Buin setup, Unesco for ths Buka Studio Equipments and the German Government for its Buka Transmitter.
With the wide coverage of South Bougainville, New Dawn FM intends to support the ABG and the COEs to provide the right information on Referendum and the general information on issues that can support the economic recovery of Bougainville.
New Dawn FM with its parent company TAMBOLEMA HOLDINGS will work more closely with the local; farmers to export Copra, Cocoa and sawn timber or other products to overseas market.
The official launching of New Dawn FM will be on Tuesday 31st of January,2017.
ALL Bougainvilleans are invited to this ceremony and will be carried live.
17a) 2017 for PNG
Friday, January 20, 2017-Fijitimes
THE year 2016 saw the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government muddle down through a series of poor policy decisions.
This continued the negative trend set in 2015, when the country went from having the highest expected GDP growth rate in the world to crisis management mode.
In the political realm, PNG continued promoting its international profile by hosting the African Caribbean and Pacific Leaders Meeting, the FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup and preparatory meetings for APEC in 2018.
But domestically there were increasing concerns about corruption and the growing arrogance of the current government, which is under the leadership of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
The first half of 2016 also saw escalating protests from students and civil society groups, which culminated in the police shooting and injuring over 20 university student protestors.
Among these protests and corruption allegations, in July the Supreme Court ruled that a long-delayed opposition motion of no-confidence in the government must be considered by parliament. Despite three former prime ministers siding with the opposition, the vote was comfortably defeated. Those members of parliament who appear to be disloyal to the government face losing their annual constituency funding of more than $US3 million ($F6m).
In terms of the economy, PNG’s exact growth performance is unknown. In March, the National Statistical Office released new figures on PNG’s GDP. But these have since been removed from the website. They showed an extraordinary upward revision of 40 per cent on PNG’s 2013 GDP estimate. This was a suspiciously convenient estimate and would have unburdened PNG of breaching its debt-to-GDP limit.
Such dubious figures bring into question the trustworthiness of government statistics, especially given that the government is seeking to avoid any inconvenient accusations of a recession in the non-resource sector.
Regardless of government statistics, evidence of this recession is obvious, with a 16 per cent fall in retail sales in 2014-15 as well as a real decline in domestic tax collections of over 20 per cent. That’s on top of falling agricultural exports, employment and imports. Business groups expect tough conditions to continue until at least 2018 when the possibility of another major LNG project and prospective copper and gold mines might start lifting growth performance again.
The proposed 2017 budget also looked slightly dodgy, being filled with unrealistically optimistic revenue assumptions and forward expenditure assumptions. This casts serious doubts on the credibility of fiscal policy and the government’s plan to return to surplus by 2021.
On top of this, in May PNG moved to a fixed exchange rate against the US dollar, which is significantly overvalued relative to the market rate.
This move led to ongoing foreign exchange shortages and controls hurting growth and confidence as well as driving imports down to their lowest levels since 2006.
* Paul Flanagan is the Director of PNG Economics. This article is part of an EAF special feature series on 2016 in review and the year ahead.
19) SOUND INVESTMENT IMPORTANT TO NATIONAL ECONOMY
Published: 18 January 2017
GCU: The Chairman of the Government Caucus and Member of Parliament for Central Kwara’ae, Jackson Fiulaua says sound investment incentives are important to the country’s economic development.
Mr Fiulaua made the statement in light of criticisms against a Cabinet decision to impose a zero duty on bauxite exports from the country.
“Sound investment incentives will derive needed revenue to the national purse, to the provincial governments and will ascertain the creation of job opportunities for nearly a thousand school drop outs, school leavers and graduates every year,” Mr Fiulaua said.
He says to provide an attractive environment to investors; there must be investment incentives, harmonized interactions between investors and leaders at both national and provincial levels.
He adds foreign investors must be made to feel welcomed and not be made to feel they are in the country to corrupt its leaders as has been insinuated by government critics against the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Foreign Investment Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Derek Aihari supports the sentiments echoed by Mr Fiulaua.
He says he cannot agree more as his Ministry encourages an investment environment conducive to attracting foreign investors to invest their hard earned money in Solomon Islands.
Both Mr Fiulaua and Mr Aihari made the statements today (Tuesday 17) in rebutting criticisms leveled at the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare for giving zero duty tax on bauxite exports from Rennell by Bintan Mining SI Ltd.
They said the Sogavare Cabinet decision is in line with the government’s policy of giving incentives and ensuring harmonized interactions with the country’s investors.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller of Customs and Excise, Nathan Kama explained today there is nothing sinister about the decision to give the zero duty tax on the bauxite exports.
The decision, he said, is regarded as an incentive to an investor in the country’s mining industry.
And the Prime Minister’s Office says the 20-percent duty imposed was a penalty tax imposed upon Bintang Borneo for illegally extracting bauxite on West Rennell, adding the normal duty under Customs law is Zero Percent.
The Prime Minister’s Office says the mining company Prime Minister Sogavare communicated with is not the same Bintang Borneo that had unlawfully extracted bauxite from West Rennell and for which the Solomon Islands Government had imposed the 20-percent export tax penalty.
Further it is not uncommon for citizens, interest groups, investors, companies, Church and even sports groups to at times, write or raise issues directly with the Prime Minister as Head of the Government whenever circumstances require such interventions.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Hon. Sogavare more often than not at his own discretion takes the time to clarify or inform these various stakeholders of the Government’s views, intentions, policies and decisions in response to their queries, letters and messages which demonstrates the Prime Minister’s commitment towards advancing the national interest without fear or favour.
– Government Communications Unit/Solomon Star
20a ) Digicel PNG launches My Digicel Application
January 20, 2017The NationalBusiness
DIGICEL launched the My Digicel app on Wednesday.
It will enable smartphone users on the Digicel network to track their usage, recharge, keep updated with offers and promotions and access the customer care team on the palm of their hand.
My Digicel app is available to prepaid customers only.
Digicel managing director, mobile, Shivan Bhargava said the app signified Digicel’s continued commitment to the advancement of telecommunications technology in PNG.
“We are excited about this latest service provision in enabling our customers to find a one stop shop in managing their Digicel life the fast and easy way,” he said.
“This one-stop shop for Digicel customers will provide access to all the best Digicel services wherever they are, 24-hours per day.”
There are also offers available that customers could purchase only through the installation of this app on their smartphones.
The My Digicel app can be downloaded from the Google Play and App stores for free.
20c) New shopping complex for Tailevu North
Sunday, January 22, 2017-Fijitimes
Update: 7:45PM A LOCAL businessman has begun works to set up a modern shopping facility for the people of Tailevu North.
Isimeli Cerelala, invested $500,000 to construct a modern shopping facility which will feature a supermarket, bakery and accommodation villas in Veicorocoro Settlement near Natovi in Tailevu.
While works on the development is progressing, Mr Cerelala temporarily operates Dawsamu Shopping Centre, a small shopping facility which features a bread shop and canteen.
It is the only decent shopping facility serving more than 16 villages including several settlements in Tailevu North.
Mr Cerelala plans to finish the project by year end.
20d) Marriott at Momi begins recruitment
Sunday, January 22, 2017-Fijitimes
Update: 8:16PM TOURISM industry workers around the country have the option of a big brand name to add to their resume when the Fiji Marriott Resort opens at Momi Bay in April 2017.
Excitement increased over the weekend amongst tourism industry workers when the resort posted a call for staff on its 10 day old Facebook page.
The post has attracted quite a large following with Fijian tourism workers from around the world inquiring about positions.
The Fiji Marriott Recruitment Day will take place on January 24 and 26 at the Cocoa Palm, Westin Resort, Denarau, Nadi from 10.00am to 7.00pm.
“The Fiji Marriott Resort at Momi Bay will set a new benchmark for the Fiji resort experience.”
“We are looking for people with a passion to provide excellence in everything they do. Prior hotel experience is highly regarded however not vital as all training is provided,” the post said.
21) Struggling pipes push call for water tanks in Fiji
5:52 pm on 21 January 2017
Fiji’s water authority is urging people in the Rewa Delta area to take advantage of government water tank subsidies.
The eastern area has been facing months of water problems because of the inability of old pipes to meet the water demand in the area.
The Water Authority’s chief executive, Opetaia Ravai, told the FBC that while there were plans to upgrade the system, water tanks would help people sustain their water supply.
A plan to install a larger pipe and source more water from the Rewa River is expected to be completed by 2021.RNZI
22a ) Polye’s comments slammed
January 20, 2017The NationalNational
WORKS and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa says the continued attacks on the Government by Opposition Leader Don Polye over roads throughout the country are “hypocrisy”.
Awesa said Polye had done little to address road issues when he was the Works Minister in the former Somare Government and was now crying foul and pointing fingers at the Government.
“What utter rubbish from the Opposition Leader to criticise the road conditions today that are the result of his neglect in past years,” he said.
“The problems on our highways are results of many years of negligence.
“This Government has been doing its best to clear some of these backlogs.
“Polye is a man who talks like he has the quick-fix solution for all the problems in PNG without understanding the realities.
“The people of Papua New Guinea cannot be misled by such rhetoric anymore.
“When he was works minister, there was no serious plan for maintenance. Our roads were left to crumble and break down.
“In the past four years, the Government has been playing catch-up because of Polye’s neglect.
“Through investment and management, road conditions are improving. And we are building more new roads and bridges now..”
Awesa suggested that Polye should think more like an engineer and less like a political opportunist in dealing with such important national issues.
Awesa said climate change, the rugged terrains and access to the right equipment and personnel were some of the factors that slowed the maintenance progress.
“The landslip at Guo village in Chimbu is one example where there were several mitigating factors that complicated the clearance,” Awesa said.
Polye said the Government was broke and could not attend to an emergency in a timely manner.
“It has nothing to do with funding.
“The Government is not broke to clear a landslip worth K500,000.
“It took some time to clear the landslip area because of landowner issues. When it was resolved, the road was reopened within 24 hours.”
LAW & ORDER
23) AG PUSHES FOR ACTION
Published: 20 January 2017
Apaniai wants ill-disciplined lawyers dealt with
CASES of alleged misconduct by certain lawyers dating back to 2005 are yet to be dealt with.
This is because members of the legal profession are not interested in joining the Disciplinary Committee, the body that deals with issues of misconduct.
Chief Crown Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chamber John Muria Jnr. highlighted this at the opening of the 2017 Legal Year, Monday.Read more – http://www.solomonstarnews.
24) Sikua seeks bail variations
Published: 20 January 2017
AN application for bail variations will be made in court tomorrow for the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security, and Correctional Services Edmond Sikua who is facing charges of official corruption.
He appeared in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court for the mention of his case and his matter was further adjourned for the bail variations hearing.
This is for the variation of some of his bail conditions that restricted him, among others, from entering his work place.
His lawyer, Gabriel Suri, made the application on the basis that his client was not suspended from his work and therefore wants to vary the bail conditions to allow him to enter his office.
Public Prosecutor Elma Rizzu however, said police are yet to complete their investigation on this case.
Chief Magistrate John Numapo adjourned the matter for the full hearing tomorrow.
This is when the defence will submits its application and prosecution will make a response.
Sikua is facing seven counts of official corruption.
He was accused of awarding Government tenders worth $630 436.50 to Beeds Investment, a company registered and owned by his two daughters.
Prosecution alleged that as permanent secretary, Sikua is by default the chairman of his ministry’s tender board.
It was alleged that between 18 December 2015 and 29 August 2016 Beeds Investments responded to calls for tenders and been awarded business contracts for service delivery to the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services on seven different occasions.
The Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services have made payments of $630, 436.50 to Beeds Investments for these services.
Prosecution further alleged that Sikua used his position of power and influence within the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services to manipulate the tendering process for his own and his family’s pecuniary advantage.
Sikua is the third public offiver to have been arrested by Janus, since the establishment of the joint taskforce in August last year.
The other two are the financial controller of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Stephen Jude Oto and Inland Revenue Division (IRD) officer Ellison Raoga.
Oto was accused of awarding himself government tenders worth more than $800,000.
Raoga was accused of receiving payments for remitting a company’s tax worth more than $100,000.
He faces one count of official corruption and six counts of fraudulent falsification of accounts.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN/Solomon Star
25) Recovery works end on Fiji’s Qamea
11:03 am on 21 January 2017
A multi-agency team deployed by the Fiji government to Qamea island two weeks ago has this week completed early relief and recovery works on the island.
The team, led by the National Disaster Management Office, was sent to Qamea island following the tropical depression last month that led to landslides that caused significant damages to homes, farms, and public infrastructure.
Acting permanent secretary for the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Loata Vakacegu said the different agencies had their sector-specific objectives and responded accordingly to the humanitarian needs on the ground.
“The team conducted detailed damage assessments and provided relief supplies and temporary shelter to the affected population,” Ms Vakacegu said.
“Geo-tech and land boundary surveys were conducted by the Mineral Resources Department and the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs for the long-term plans for Dreketi, which was the worst village affected,” she said.
She further mentioned that the team also conducted minor repairs on public infrastructure and that government will now focus on long-term rehabilitation.RNZI
26) PNG fresh kaikai heve
Updated 20 January 2017, 14:10 AEDT
Wanpla mansave blong agrikalsa long Melanesia itok ol fama long Papua New Guinea isave bungim planti heve long salim ol fresh kaikai igo long planti hap long kantri.
Dr Mike Burke blong Australian National University i mekim despla toktok bihaenim wankaen wari blong narapla mansave blong agrikalsa long PNG, Emmanuel Kavanamur.
Long mun igo pinis Mr Kavanamur, husat i wok olsem horticulturalist wantem Fresh Produce Development Agency ibin tokaut olsem, bai gutpla sopos PNG i putim ol cold storage oa haus emi gat ais long putim ol fresh kaikai pastem oli salim igo long ol narapla ples long kantri.
Dr Burke i wanbel wantaim Mr Kavanamur long dispela, tasol em i tok igat planti moa samting we i putim heve long salim ol fresh kaikai igo long ol maket long PNG.
Em i tok PNG i bikpela kantri na igat ol narapela narapela environment, sampela hap i hot, drae, kol, igat planti ren or nogat ren, sampela kain kumu i grou tasol long sampela hap na ol samting olsem.
Em i tok ol bikpla rot isave bagarap, olsem long Highlands Highway emi stap namel long Lae long Morobe provins na ol narapla provins long Highlands rijan we ol famrers isave planim ol kaikai olsem, Cabbage, carrots, kaukau, cauliflower, broccoli na potatoes.ABC
30) Vanuatu Youth Bill
Postim 19 January 2017, 15:28 AEDT
Laen blong National Youth Council long Vanuatu itok bai oli hamamas tru sopos Palaman i oraetim Youth Bill oa loa em bai karamapim sidaon blong olgeta yangpla pipal long kantri.
Oli tok sopos oli oraetim despla bill, despla bai min olsem Vanuatu bai kamap nambawan kantri long Pacific rijan long gat kaen loa blong ol yangpla pipal.
Joe Kalo, Principal Administrator blong Vanuatu National Youth Council, itok as tingting blong despla Bill em blong helpim ol yangpla pipal long ol kaen samting olsem, employment, na tu long bringim ol sevis igo long olgeta yangpla pipal long olgeta Island blong kantri.
Vanuatu, wankaen olsem ol narapla kantri long Pacific rijan igat bikpla wari long nogat wok, na tu planti yangpla pipal ino save pinisim skul oa education.
Vanuatu Palaman bai holim nambawan miting blong en long Mun March long despla yia.ABC
31a ) VASANOC pleased that ‘sport’ is in Vanuatu 2030 Plan
Jan 21, 2017
VASANOC is pleased that “Sport” has been included in the VANUATU 2030 People’s Plan.
As the National Association of Sport in Vanuatu, the National Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Association and the Pacific Games Association of Vanuatu, and on behalf of past, current and future Athletes and Sport Officials of Vanuatu, VASANOC sincerely thanks the Vanuatu Government and especially the Leadership and Team of the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination for this recognition.
This is more meaningful when we realize that Vanuatu 2030 is our National Sustainable Development Plan for the period 2016 to 2030, and serves as the country’s highest level policy framework.
“Sport” is mentioned under the Society Pillar and Economic Pillar in SOC 4.7 and ECO 2.3 respectively: “Encourage participation in physical activities and develop a safe and inclusive sport system that serves as a vehicle for community cohesion, education, health, leadership and fair play” and “Ensure that all public infrastructure, including health, education and sport facilities are safe, accessible, secure and maintained in compliance with building codes and standards.”
VASANOC CEO, Mr Henry Tavoa said this recognition compliments the definition of Vanuatu Sport approved by the Government 10 years ago as, “All forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental wellbeing and social interaction such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sports and indigenous sports and games.”
Mr Tavoa concluded that with this recognition comes the challenge to sport leaders from community to national levels to connect to this Plan through and make it come alive and also to help Government draft a National Sport Policy to further strengthen this Plan.
Raymond Nasse/ Sports Editor/
32) World Cup CEO in capital for meeting
January 20, 2017The NationalSports
Article Views: 300
THE chief executive officer of the 2017 World Rugby League Cup, Andrew Hill, pictured, and his team arrived in Port Moresby yesterday for discussions on how best Papua New Guinea could deliver the event.
PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka told The National that Hill and his team would meet with the Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko representing the Government and National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop as the host of three World Cup games.
Tsaka said the co-funding arrangment between the Government and NCD Commission would be confirmed at the meeting.
The WRLC team will also meet with PNGRFL board and CEO Reatau Rau.
Tsaka said the Government, NCD and PNGRFL would also discuss setting up a host organizing committee for the WRLC to deliver three matches between Oct 28 and Nov 12 at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
“Once the HOC is appointed ticketing and prices will be finalised with other arrangements to progress leading to the World Cup,” Tsaka said.
“We look forward to the meetings with Andrew and his team over the weekend. This is a very important year for rugby league in the country, as we prepare to host rugby league world cup matches for the first time.
PNG play Wales on Oct 28, Ireland on Nov 5 and the USA on Nov 12.
Tsaka said the PNGRFL had discussions with the National Football Stadium Trustees on increasing the seating capacity of the venue from 15,000 to 20,000 to cater for the demand.
33 ) Australian Open: Andy Murray shocked by Mischa Zverev, Stanislas Wawrinka beats Andreas Seppi
Updated 22 January 2017, 18:40 AEDT
The Australian Open sees another sensational shock result with world number one Andy Murray dumped out of the year’s first major in the fourth round by Germany’s Mischa Zverev.
The Australian Open has witnessed another sensational shock result with world number one Andy Murray dumped out of the year’s first major in the fourth round by Germany’s Mischa Zverev.
Zverev played the match of his life to secure a 7-5. 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over the Briton to advance to the quarter-finals in a 214-minute tussle.
It means the world’s top two male players are both out of contention as the men’s draw opens up dramatically, following Novak Djokovic’s second-round loss to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.
The Zverev name is becoming a lot more recognisable to Australian audiences this year after Mischa’s brother Alexander gave Rafael Nadal an almighty scare in the third round.
A quarter-final fixture awaits Mischa Zverev, who will face the winner of the match between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.
The afternoon’s other clash was a completely different affair for match favourite Stanislas Wawrinka, who progressed to the last eight with a straight-sets win over Andreas Seppi.
The former Australian Open winner beat the Italian in a tale of the tie-break, winning 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4).
Wawrinka will face the winner of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s clash with Daniel Evans in the quarter-finals.ABC
36) New tackle laws ‘may restrict Pacific players’, says former Samoa captain Dan Leo
10:57 pm GMT+12, 19/01/2017, United Kingdom
New tackle laws may have a huge impact on Pacific Island rugby, according to former Samoa captain Dan Leo.
World Rugby introduced tough sanctions on high tackles earlier this month in a bid to improve player safety.
Leo feels the new regulations may compromise the traditional strengths of players from the Pacific Islands, who are renowned for their physicality.
“My main concern is it will eventually restrict our employment opportunities,” Leo told BBC 5 live.
“There are long-term implications that these laws could have, not just on us as individuals, but on our economies long term.”
Leo, who won 39 caps for Samoa as well as representing Wasps, Perpignan and London Irish, has set up a programme to help with the welfare of Pacific Island players in England.
It is estimated that around 18% of all professional rugby players worldwide are of Fijian, Samoan, or Tongan heritage, with 72 playing in the English Premiership.
And Leo feels education is key if those from the islands are going to continue to thrive.
“We are going to have to start tackling lower, and being a lot more conscious of those risky tackles,” he added. “We are going to have to look at ourselves.
“We can’t just be known as the enforcers and the guys renowned for those big hits.
“We are going to have to do that within the laws; the laws are constantly changing, and there is a lot of work to be done in the process of re-educating ourselves.”
Leo fears Pacific Island players may suffer more than most under the new guidelines, which will see yellow and red cards awarded for reckless challenges to the head area.
“One of the big things we have on our hands is trying to break down that perception we are dirty players,” added Leo.
“The only thing that really differentiates Trevor Leota and Brian Lima, who retired in the mid-2000s, from Chris Hala’ufia and Mat Luamanu – who has had three red cards in the past year – is the times and the laws.
“I don’t think players are tackling any harder than they were back then, but the game has moved on. It’s definitely an education process that needs to happen outside what is being offered.
“There is a fair bit of concern around. The majority of Pacific Island players in the Premiership have been brought over here to do a job that seems to have been frowned upon now.
“There is going to be a lot of work in re-defining how we play.”
And Leo feels Pacific Island players could be lost to rugby union if the new tackle sanctions reduce their effectiveness.
“The game had to change, and it had to get safer, but there are a lot of other sports which Pacific Islanders could play,” Leo said.
“We have all of these other sports contending for our players: the rugby league NRL, American Football, boxing.
“The reason rugby is so attractive to Pacific Islanders is the contact element, and if we aren’t going to get our [contact] fix through rugby, then we will get it elsewhere, said Leo.
SOURCE: BBC SPORT/PACNEWS
Philippe Saibir Pako -Tenene