Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1094 ( Tuesday 25 April 2017 )

MELANESIA

1) PNG volcano eruption alert level raised

Evacuation warnings have been issued again for Papua New Guinea’s Manam Island as the island’s volcano continues to rumble and spew ash.

The National reported the eruption alert level for the Manam volcano has been raised to stage three, a sign that people had to be moved off.

The volcano, which dominates Manam Island off the mainland’s north-east coast, erupted nine days ago.

Disaster authorities were recommending people leave as soon as possible.

A councillor for Dugulava village on the island said there were rumbling, blasts and spewing ashes from the volcano on Sunday night.

He said they had begun moving women and children to Bogia on the mainland.25/4/17 RNZI

2) Earthquake in Samoa region; nil threat to Fiji

TIMOCI VULA
Tuesday, April 25, 2017- Fijitimes

Update: 12:59PM A 5.4 MAGNITUDE earthquake occurred in the Samoa region this morning.

The offshore earthquake was registered at 10.18am, and it occurred at a depth of 10km.

It was located 293km Southwest from Apia, Samoa, 496km Northwest from Alofi, Niue, and 908km Northeast from Suva.

The Seismology Unit of the Mineral Resources department has assured that this seismic event did not pose any immediate threat to the Fiji region.

3 ) http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/329468/warning-over-bougainville-referendum-inertia

4) Vanuatu’s First Village ‘All Female Council’ Formed

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 12:02

‘Such appointment has never been made by the tribe before, culturally women are prohibited to hold such customary position’

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 22, 2017) – The society has been tirelessly advocating for gender equality and a lot of money were spent on women empowerment programs.

Yet, little has been done to put into practice as cultural norms continue to shut many women out from leadership roles. It’s not easy for women to become leaders because they are deceived by the wider society as weak and are not better bosses than men.

The cultural norms are deeply rooted everywhere in Vanuatu. However, the pace of change for gender parity is slowly accelerating.

The people of Sunai, a village on Moso island, off northwest Efate, have decided to welcome change and take lead in empowering women in the community by choosing a woman to head their village tribunal council.

The village has an ‘all female council’ for the first time this year. Chairlady, Leimalu Tapasei, was appointed along with all female executive members who will be administrating community affairs for the next two years.

For the first time in its history, the village has given customary right to a woman when the council has always been male dominated, said the Chairman of the Sunae Village Area Council of Chiefs, Jimmy Meameadola.

“Such appointment has never been made by the tribe before. Culturally, women are prohibited to hold such customary position.

“Mrs Tapasei was appointed on merit for contributing enormously to community development,” he said.

Asked if there are challenges she faced since taking over the role, Tapasei replied: “My appointment to the customary position was the biggest challenge.

“Now that I am heading the council, it’s only the daily matters.”

She was elected three months ago.

The chairlady revealed that things she accomplished so far include the establishment of village terms of reference, bylaws and mission statement as well as restructuring the council organizational structure by creating sub-committees to deal with issues such as education, health, water, environment, business, infrastructure, land and disaster. Tapasei said during her term she will advocate for the importance of respect in custom governance and sustainable development through establishing network between the government, civil and NGO’s.

“Finding an organization for us to partner with to fight coastal erosion is one of my many goals.

“Our marine resources have been exploited due to climate change. “I will ensure that our fresh water supply system is restored, build a multi-purpose women’s club house that will be utilized as a disaster relief center.

“Rebuild new community church all, establish a marine conservation park and continue facilitation short courses for community members.”

Tapasei has identified a number of goals to accomplish.

Chief Meameadola described her as bold and brave with so much talent and passion in pursuing her goals.

The chiefs and community are applauded for having confidence in her.

Chrissy Boland and Robert Monvoisin, are acknowledged for sponsoring her training at the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC).

“This course guided me to being a council chair lady and also gave me confidence,” said Ms Tapasei.

Tapasei is not a native of Moso but is married to a man from the island. She is a trainer at VIT School of Tourism.

Vanuatu Daily Post

5) Minister: Fiji Minimum wage review to be ready next month
9:33 pm GMT+12, 24/04/2017, Fiji

The review of the country’s minimum wage rate for unskilled workers would be complete by the end of next month, Fiji’s Employment Minister Jone Usamate told Parliament Monday.

Usamate told this to Parliament following a question from Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) MP, Ratu Sela Nanovo on the measures being put in place to increase the national minimum wage rate.

He said Government was committed to the constant revision of the minimum wage rate.

“After establishing the national minimum wage rate in 2014, the Government has carried out its review in 2015, and right now, we have already completed one phase of the review of current national minimum wage,” he said.

Usamate said the first phase involved data collection from the formal and the informal sector and the data had been submitted to a contracted University of the South Pacific economist for analysis.

“So I can reassure everybody in this country that those whose wages are subject to this national minimum wage, the work is being carried out and this Government is committed to make sure that this is completed.

“The national minimum wage is intended for unskilled people who do not have any agreement with their employer that outlines what the wage rate should be.”

SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka also questioned the minister why the Government could not bring the minimum wage rate to $4 (US$2) per hour which his party intended to do if in government next year.

In response, Usamate said the Government was not going to pluck a minimum wage rate of $4(US$2) as various factors had to be considered.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

POLYNESIA

6) World Bank: Tongan Gov Needs To Constrain ‘Unproductive Spending’

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 12:50

Fiscal sustainability best pursued through containing unproductive spending while boosting critical expenditures on health and education

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga April 21, 2017) – Two key challenges that the Tongan economy faces now are for government to manage carefully its wage bill and also its financing of the 2019 South Pacific Games related constructions, the World Bank says in its latest Economic Update for Tonga.

The Economic Update Report for East Asia and Pacific April 2017 stressed that if Tonga is able to manage its expenditures prudently, it will be able to retain the fiscal space necessary to meet pressing service delivery needs, and respond effectively to the frequent natural disasters shocks.

For Tonga to ensure that it has fiscal sustainability, the World Bank believes that Tonga should undergo an economic reforms to shore up its revenue, “contain unproductive spending while boosting critical expenditures on health and education, and build up buffers against shocks.”

It has been an established formula of the Government annual budget that more than 50% of a ministry’s budget allocation is for salaries. In some ministries it can be as high as 70%. With so much going on salaries, there is very little left for public services, let alone the concept of building up buffers to counter disasters shocks. To finance the construction of public facilities and to build up buffers, government would need to either seek concessional loans or financial assistance from aid donors.

However, the report pointed out that Tonga has multiple opportunities to achieve higher economic growth. It specifically identified Tourism, Labor Mobility and Information Communication Technology (ICT) as enabled opportunities, offering employment opportunities and shore up Tonga’s revenue.

To maximise benefits from tourism, it recommended for Tonga –

To tap more into the Chinese tourism market
Increase the number of luxury resorts
Capture more of the retiree market.

Tonga has ventured out to attract more Chinese tourists. Tonga’s PM Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva and the Chinese Ambassador HE Mr Huang Huaguang on 9 June 2016 signed a Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement for ordinary passport holders.

The agreement enables citizens from Tonga and China to be exempted from visa requirements for entry into, from or transit through the territories of the other for a period of stay not exceeding 30 days.

In a farewell function on 8 April, HE Mr Huang Huaguang announced that direct flights from China to Tonga would start soon.

There has also been talk of a regional air service, based in Tonga, utilising a MA60 aircraft that China donated to the Tongan government.

The MA60 aircraft is currently being operated by the Real Tonga Airline, on its inter-islands service between Tongatapu and Vava’u.

But moving forward with Tonga’s aiming to host the 2019 Pacific Game and to build luxury hotels the Minister for Revenue Collection and Customs, Hon. Tevita Lavemaau introduced into the House on 17 February the Pacific Games 2019 Taxation Incentives.

Tonga’s hosting of the 2019 Pacific Games has encountered many problems, primarily because of disagreement by government officials and individuals who were selected to oversee the construction of sporting facilities and organising and the running of the games.

The Pacific Games 2019 taxation Incentives Bill 2017 was rushed through the House and was passed with votes of 13-3.

The nine page Act will clearly benefit big investors. Under the new act , in return for a large tourism development investment of $3 million or more investors may apply for income tax deductions of up to $6 million of their income.

The Minister of Revenue and Customs may also grant a special tax incentive to a person who is eligible if they make a donation of more than $50,000 to a sporting body.

When Hon Tevita Lavemaau presented the Bill to the House he stressed the importance for the Bill to be passed. “If we don’t pass this Bill, the sports (2019 Pacific Games) will be a sad Story.”

Initially it was estimated that Tonga need USD$70 million to be able to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

7) Alcohol Woes Hurt Tonga’s Recognized Seasonal Employer Standing

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 13:05

RSE Liaison Officer: PM promised a review but the government could only respond to difficulties as they find them

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 24, 2017) – The return to Tonga of two workers who left their Recognised Seasonal Employer jobs in New Zealand has again highlighted issues surrounding alcohol.

Radio Tonga reported that Sitiveni Uasi and Atonio Kulitapa were sent home for disappearing with a company vehicle.

The men disappeared from the Hastings farm where they were working last Monday and were found hundreds of kilometres away in Auckland a few days later.

Mr Kulitapa told the Kaniva website they regretted their actions, saying there was no reason for leaving but they were drunk at the time.

In February eight workers were ordered home after they broke their contracts by consuming alcohol and misbehaving.

Earlier this month the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva visited the RSE farm due to the number of Tongans absconding.

Community leaders have called for a review of the scheme.

RSE Liaison Officer Sefita Hao’uli said the Prime Minister promised a review but the government could only respond to difficulties as they find them.

He said single under-25-year-old males were in high demand for employers but there was also a need for them to be responsible.

Radio New Zealand International

8) American Samoa Shows Reluctance To Join Undersea Cable Project With Samoa

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 13:17

Federal government has raised concerns about the teritory using telecommunications systems that are foreign owned

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 22, 2017) – Hesitation by the United States is threatening American Samoa’s involvement in a new undersea fibre optic cable with Samoa.

Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, had invited American Samoa to join on to the Tui Samoa cable, which will be launched later this year.

But American Samoa’s Governor, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, has said the federal government has raised concerns about the teritory using telecommunications systems that are foreign owned.

Lolo says American Samoa needs a lot of information from Samoa in order to make a wise and informed decision, including the costs and benefits.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Nearly Half Of Candidates Contesting Common Rolll Seats In Niue Elections Are Women

Submitted by PIR Editor on Mon, 04/24/2017 – 16:04

Niue goes to the polls on May 6

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 24, 2017) – Nearly half of those hoping to run for common roll seats in Niue’s election next month are women.

The provisional roll released on Friday includes what’s believed to be a record 24 candidates contesting the six nationally elected seats, ten of them women.

The other 14 seats are elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies representing the 14 villages of Niue.

MP for Mutalau Bill Vakaafi Motufoou was among those pushing women voters to part with tradition and vote for their own sex.

“Somehow men get blamed for not having enough women in politics. But I look at it this way, there are more women on Niue than men. So why aren’t they voting themselves in and stop blaming us men?”

Va’aiga Tukuitonga who has been in parliament for 17 years said she hoped to see new faces in the fono this year.

“I hope that there will be new members in the house, new blood in the house. We have very intelligent people here in Niue. So I’m encouraging all the young ones – this is the time to come forward, be counted.”

Niue goes to the polls on 6 May.

Radio New Zealand International

MICRONESIA


10) Trump pressures Democrats on Obamacare to get border wall deal

25 Apr 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Donald Trump put pressure on Democrats on Sunday as U.S. lawmakers worked to avoid a government shutdown, saying Obamacare would die without a cash infusion the White House has offered in exchange for their agreement to fund his border wall.

The escalated push to get Trump’s priorities, which Democrats reject, into spending legislation could jeopardize prospects for an agreement to keep the government open.

If talks fail, the government would shut down on Saturday, Trump’s 100th day in office.

“Obamacare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going — otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought,” the Republican president said in a Twitter post.

In a second tweet, he added: “The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.”

MS-13 is a criminal gang with members of Central American origin.

The president’s tweets appeared after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney accused Democrats of “holding hostage national security” by opposing $1.5 billion to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, one of Trump’s top campaign pledges.

Democrats have said they would not support legislation that ends federal subsidies to help low-income people buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

The healthcare law was Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, which Republicans are trying to repeal and replace.

On Sunday, Democrats called for Trump to stop making “poison pill” demands.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate were “going quite well” and that he was hopeful a deal could be reached.

“The only fly in the ointment is that the president is being a little heavy handed, and mixing in and asking for things such as the wall,” Schumer told reporters.

“We’d ask him to let us do our work, not throw in some last-minute poison pills that could undo it, and we could get this done,” he said.

Trump wants money for the wall included in spending legislation that Congress must pass by Friday to keep the federal government operating through Sept. 30, when the 2017 fiscal year expires.

Mulvaney and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus played down the danger of a shutdown. Mulvaney said talks between Republicans and Democrats could produce an agreement as early as Sunday.

“I’m pretty confident we’re going to get something that’s satisfactory to the president in regard to border security within the current negotiations,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Trump had been clear about his desire for a wall. “I would suspect he will be insistent on the funding,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

TOK PISIN

11) Sekiuriti i nomoa wari long wokim bisnis long South Bougainville

Postim 25 April 2017, 14:24 AEST
Sam Seke

Memba blong South Bougainville long PNG Palamen, Timothy Masiu i tok em iken givim guarantee long ol bisnis laen olsem sait long sekiuriti long South Bougainville em i orait.

Em i tok pastaim long em i kamap memba, South Bougainville i gat nem long planti kainkain heve i save kamap long sait long loa na oda.

Tasol Mr Masiu i tok sait long sekiuriti long South Bougainville long dispela taim em i wanpela  “non-issue”.

Mr Masiu i tok, umemployment nau em i lukim olsem wanpela bikpela isiu long South Bougainville na em i invaitim ol ol kampani long go invest long rijin na givim wok long ol yangpela.

Em i tok issiu long Buin Town yet em i long sait long ol sevis olsem laitrik paua, water supply na internet sevis long bai em i mekim gut long ol bisnis.

Mr Masiu i tok em i gohet long toktok wantaim PNG nasinol gavman na ABG long dispela.ABC

12) Wanfala wik finis bat nomoa Futsal Challenge faenol yet

Postim 24 April 2017, 15:43 AEST
Sam Seke

Hem wanfala wik finis nao olketa ibin holem semi faenol blong 2017 Wantok Futsal Challenge tournament long Honiara bat olketa ino pleim yet faenol.

Diswan hem from samfala futsal fanatic i bin brekim ceiling blong Multipurpose Hall long taem blong semi faenol, an City Counci hem stopem olketa fo iusim Hall ia moa.

Tournament manager, Thomas Kalola hem se olketa i fiksim finis damej long Multipurpose Hall bat olketa City authority ino letem olketa iet fo pleim faenol.

So hem se olketa i toktok wetem PS blong Home Affairs fo stretem wetem olketa long City Council mekem olketa i komplitim faenol disfala tonament.

Mr Kalola hem se pipol long Honiara i laekem tumas fo lukim faenol blong disfala 2017 Wantok Futsal Challenge.ABC

FRENCH

13a )
http://www.lnc.nc/breve/la-nouvelle-caledonie-vote-francois-fillon

13b ) http://www.lnc.nc/nouvelle-caledonie/politique

13c ) http://www.lnc.nc/breve/cinq-cabanes-detruites-au-squat-kavatawa-a-dumbea

AUSTRALIA

14a ) http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/329471/australia-labelled-‘rogue-state’-for-manus-deportations

14b ) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-25/anzac-day-dawn-services-marches-held-across-the-country-on-day-of-remembrance/1666982

14c ) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-25/noone-cares-mate-being-a-war-veteran-at-27/1667016

PACIFIC

15) Australian Think Tank Report Says Chinese Aid, Investment Could Destabilize Pacific

Submitted by PIR Editor on Mon, 04/24/2017 – 16:39

Soft loans to regional governments could be problem

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 24, 2017) – A new report has found aid and investment from China runs the risk of destabilising Pacific island nations.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute report argued the lack of political strings attached to aid from China may fuel corruption and violence.

The report also questioned the sustainability of soft loans from China to some of the countries in the region.

It said Australia could not afford to be complacent about the shifting geopolitical environment in the region.

[PIR editor’s note: On April 25, 2017 RNZI reported that ‘Lawmakers in American Samoa have reportedly said Samoa’s links with China are unsettling for the territory’s security. …The territory’s Congresswoman Aumua Amata discussed the issue with Senators and House Representatives although it is not immediately clear how Samoa-Chinese relations impact on the US territory.’]

Radio New Zealand International

16) Pacific study sample shows elevated levels of mercury

A new study has found that 96 percent of women of childbearing age in four Pacific countries have elevated levels of mercury in their bodies.

Matangi Tonga reports hair samples from women aged 18 to 44 from the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati were examined as part of a joint study by the secretariat of the Minamata Convention, Biodiversity Research Institute and the global network IPEN.

The Pacific women were found to contain average mercury concentrations up to three times higher than the recommended daily mercury intake.

Mercury exposure can damage the nervous system, kidneys and cardiovascular system.

Researchers think Pacific Islanders may have a higher mercury level than other people because of the consumption of fish species with high mercury concentrations.

One of the research co-ordinators, Jacob Duer, said mercury was recognised as a substance of global concern with impacts on vulnerable populations.

BRI Chief Scientist David Evers said the study highlighted the importance of biomonitoring mercury pollution.25/4/17 RNZI

ASIA

17 ) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-25/north-korea-donald-trump-calls-for-new-un-sanctions-says-time-to-take-off-blindfolds/1667002

WORLD

18) Majority Of Voters In French Pacific Territories Skip French Elections

Submitted by PIR Editor on Mon, 04/24/2017 – 15:07

61% in French Polynesia, 51% in New Caledonia abstain from voting

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 24, 2017) – The French Pacific territories had some of the highest rates of abstention in today’s presidential elections.

In French Polynesia, 61 percent of voters abstained, while 51 percent of voters in New Caledonia did so.

Pro-independence movements in both territories had encouraged abstention as a sign of steering away from France.

Those who did vote defied the trend in mainland France by voting for the centre-right’s Francois Fillon, who failed to qualify for the runoff election in two weeks.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came a close second in both French Polynesia and New Caledonia, while centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was third, winning less than 15 percent of the vote.

In Tahiti, the score was noticeable because none of the main parties had supported Mr Fillon when the campaign to succeed Francois Hollande was launched last year.

Ms Le Pen did particularly well in the Noumea area.

The next president – who will either me Mr Macron or far-right candidate Ms Le Pen – will oversee an independence referendum in New Caledonia.

In Wallis and Futuna the abstention rate was 36 percent, while Mr Macron won the most votes and Ms Le Pen came a distant fourth.

Turnout was down over 2012 and in Tahiti – at under 39 percent – at a record low.

Radio New Zealand International

HEALTH

19) Minister asks Fiji medical staff to improve conduct

Fiji’s health minister is asking medical staff to be more mindful of their professional conduct in the workplace and to achieve targets set by the United Nations sustainable development goals.

The request came amid online complaints about poor treatment of patients, especially at hospitals.

The minister, Rosy Akbar, spoke to nurses at their recent annual general meeting and acknowledged their job was tough because they deal with life and death situations.

But she said it was important for Fiji to stay committed to international efforts to improve health standards.

“So the work of nurses frequently involves addressing not just illness and injury at the individual level. Much of what you do is affected by the broader social determinants of health,” said Ms Akbar.

Ms Akbar also asked nursing staff not to breach social media policies, to work more collaboratively together and to exercise more patience and understanding when caring for the sick.26/4/17 RNZI

EDUCATION

20) FTU: Vernacular, culture need to be taught in schools

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, April 25, 2017-Fijitimes

TWO of the biggest unifying forces — vernacular and culture — need to be taught at primary and high school if the country is to fully embrace what it truly means to be Fijian, says the Fiji Teachers Union.

FTU general secretary Agni Deo Singh said cross-cultural training in the iTaukei and Hindi languages and traditions would be a good starting point.

Mr Singh said a program which was pioneered in the 1970s where iTaukei students learnt Hindi and Fijians of Indian descent learnt the iTaukei language had declined over time when no attempt was made to improve on it.

He said proof of this was evident in the very low number of people who could speak or understood a vernacular language.

“This, I believe, is one of the many reasons we are still far apart in terms of respecting each other’s cultures, traditions and languages,” he said.

“It is simply because we only understand each other at a very superficial level and not as in-depth as we should.”

Mr Singh said the erosion of values evidenced by the number of issues at schools could also be attributed to the lack of understanding of vernacular and culture.

“If we lose our language, we lose our culture and we lose our values.

“In Fiji, we have a very serious problem with values education and one of the major reasons is that students are not able to read religious and spiritual books in their own or each other’s languages and understand the values that are taught.”

Questions sent to the Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy two weeks ago and again yesterday about the issues raised by Mr Singh remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

21) MPs’ debts could stop Solomons students from graduating

As many as 200 students at the Solomon Islands National University could be barred from graduating because of members of parliament not honouring their sponsorship commitments.

Under the Constituency Scholarship Fund, each MP receives $US44,000 to sponsor students from their constituency through university.

But the Island Sun newspaper reported that payments from some MPs to the university have been slow coming, or have not arrived at all.

The newspaper claimed that one MP owed the university as much as $US64,000 in unpaid fees.

The university said it had been lenient in allowing the students to continue their studies, but warned that unless their local MPs paid their debts, the students would be held back from graduating.26/4/17 RNZI

22)  http://dailypost.vu/news/lycee-lab-records-vt-million-outstanding-fees/article_3b5bb5dd-d568-5b4a-8cf7-72da12df5da8.html

POLITIC/GOVERNMENT

23a ) PENIAI FIRST

By Aloysius Laukai

The former ABG Speaker, NICK PENIAI became the first candidate to nominate for the South Bougainville Open seat after the writs were issued last Thursday.
MR. PENIAI who also stood in the last By Election is standing this time as a Peoples National Congress party candidate which is led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neil.
MR. PENIAI was the ABG Speaker for the ABG’s first house from 2005 to 2010.
Candidate PENIAI was escorted by a Traditional Kaur group to the nomination stage in Buin town this afternoon.
After the nomination, MR. PENIAI addressed the crowd present and said that he was involved with the leaders in the negotiations of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and is well verged to represent the people of South Bougainville in the Papua New Guinea national Parliament.
South Bougainville is expecting more than ten candidates in the 2017 PNG General elections.
Nominations will close at 4 pm this Thursday.24/4/17 DawnFm-Bougainville

23b) MASIU PRESENTS IN PARLIAMENT
By Aloysius Laukai
South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu last week Wednesday gave a verbal account of how he distributed the District Support Improvement Program (DSIP) fund during his seven months in office.
In his report tabled to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Parliament, MR. MASIU said he had endeavoured to failry distribute the fund to the four districts in his electorate.
Mr. Masiu said “I believe that it is in the best interest of open and accountable leadership that I report on how I as the custodian of this government funding, have used it to address the development needs of the people of South Bougainville.”
He told the ABG parliament, the report is the highlight of development achivements through the use of the DSIP, stressing that the DSIP is a direct intervention by the national government which goes direct to the districts or electorates to ensure the people in the rural villages see,feel and appreciate efforts by their elected leaders to bring development to their doorsteps.
“As the Manager of the DSIP I have endeavoured in the last seven months to equitably distribute the fund to the four districts of Buin,Siwai,Bana and Torokina. This report is therefore the highlight of the development achievements through the use of the DSIP.”
He said this was the last ABG Parliament meeting for him and his colleague national parliamentarians before they face the people at elections, and as a first time parliamentarian, he has found the job very challenging but rewarding as well.
“I feel satisfied with my achievements in the seven months in office and despite achieving much progress, Iam confident of doing more for my people if Iam given a full parliamentary term.”
I have enjoyed working with and alongside members of the ABG especially those from South Bougainville as well as the President.
“I have endeavoured to work closely with you, our government and our public servants and all stakeholders like churches,NGOs,Youths,Women and the Ex combatants and other likeminded Bougainvilleans.”
“I also salute all our aid partners and other agencies like the European Union,and AusAid for lending us much needed help.”
“I will continue to look outside the box and embark on creating a network with willing partners to bring about change and progress to South Bougainville and Bougainville as a whole.”
“I have done as much as I could within the short time in office and I thank the Chiefs, Elders,and all stakeholders including the public service in the four districts in my electorate, service providers, the private sector and the people of South Bougainville for standing by me and working with me to achieve the changes that we are witnessing in this short time.”
“On that note Iam confident that I have done enough to secure the people’s vote of approval to return me for a full term in office,” Mr. Masiu said.24/4/17 DawnFm-Bougainville

24 ) http://www.thenational.com.pg/health-board-warns-disease-risk/

25) Fiji PM upsets church

9:21 pm GMT+12, 24/04/2017, Fiji

The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma is “very disappointed” by the comments made by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Parliament Monday that the religious body was a campaign mouthpiece for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA).

In an interview last night, church general secretary Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa said the church leaders would see the Prime Minister and “sort things” out over comments he had made.

Vakadewavosa said the church was neutral and not a mouthpiece for SODELPA.

“The Methodist Church is a neutral organisation, biggest religious organisation in the country, and we were very sad with what had transpired in the Parliament sitting,” he said.

He said the church was not for any political party.

“Many members of the Methodist Church are members of the FijiFirst party, National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and SODELPA so it’s a neutral organisation.”

Vakadewavosa said a group representing the church made submissions to the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs on the village bylaws and he was not aware of any other issues that were discussed.

Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa called on the PM to acquaint himself with the United Nations Charter on Human Rights Article 18 and 20, which guaranteed the freedom of religion and the freedom of political affiliation.

“The PM, who frequently goes to New York should grab a copy of the charter and acquaint himself with the important information on the charter, then he won’t come up with remarks like that,” she said.

Ro Teimumu said it was unfortunate for the PM to strike a low blow against those who had no representatives in Parliament, like the Methodist Church.

“It’s unfortunate for the PM to make such remarks when he has no proof,” she said.

Bainimarama told Parliament that the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma was a campaign mouth for SODELPA while responding to a question by SODELPA deputy whip, Mosese Bulitavu for the Parliament to review the 2013 Constitution.

The PM made reference to the submission made by the church last week, talking about the elimination of racial discrimination.

Bainimarama said the church, together with the Opposition, were spreading lies.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

26) Eleven Former Vanuatu MPs Likely To Face Retrial For Conspiracy Charges

Submitted by PIR Editor on Mon, 04/24/2017 – 16:02

Court of Appeals recently overturned convictions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 25, 2017) – Eleven former MPs in Vanuatu are likely to face a retrial on conspiracy charges.

The MPs, most of whom are still serving jail time for bribery, were cleared of their convictions for conspiracy earlier this month.

The conspiracy convictions stem from an incident in October 2015, when the former speaker of parliament used his acting presidential powers to pardon himself and 10 other MPs of bribery convictions.

But two weeks ago, the Court of Appeal overturned the conspiracy convictions.

It said it felt the judge at the time should have tried them as a group of people committing a single offence, not as individuals commiting multiple offences.

However, the ruling did not declare them innocent, and the court said it was up to the public prosecutor to consider whether to lay the charges again for a retrial.

Last night, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed it was seeking a retrial, having filed its intentions to the court yesterday morning.

Radio New Zealand International

27) Fiji Opposition Call To Slash Fiji Government Top Salaries

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 12:25

NFP: Bainimarama claimed before his 2006 coup that no-one of his team would benefit from the coup, yet now he was drawing a salary twice the size of his ousted predecessor

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 21, 2017) – A Fiji opposition party says if it wins power it will cut top ministerial salaries.

The National Federation Party said it would repeal the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree and get parliament to set up an independent emoluments commission to look at salaries, perks and privileges of MPs.

It said it would slash the prime minister’s pay by 25 percent.

It noted that the Attorney General justified the high pays by saying they would prevent ministers from being tempted into corruption.

The prime minister earns almost $US160,000 a year and if outside Fiji, he gets a daily allowance of almost $US1,500.

The NFP said Frank Bainimarama claimed before his 2006 coup that no-one of his team would benefit from the coup, yet now he was drawing a salary twice the size of his ousted predecessor.

Fiji’s minimum wage is $US1.11

Radio New Zealand International

MEDIA

28) Fiji Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against The Fiji Times Newspaper, Executives

Submitted by PIR Editor on Mon, 04/24/2017 – 16:08

Newspaper fined for contempt of court conviction

By Nemani Delaibatiki

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, April 23, 2017) –  The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by The Fiji Times and two executives against a Court of Appeal judgment.

The executives are former publisher Brian O’Flaherty and current editor-in-chief Fred Wesley.

The Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed an appeal from the three against a contempt of court conviction handed down by the High Court in Suva.

The appellants had pleaded not guilty when the case was originally heard in the High Court.

But the judge after hearing found the appellants guilty of contempt scandalising the court following an article in the Fiji Times. Fiji Times was fined $300,000 [US$144,000].

After the unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeal, the three applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal on several grounds claiming that the Justices of the Court of Appeal had erred in law.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the petitioners shall jointly and severally pay $5000 [US$2,400] as costs to the respondent, the Attorney-General.

The Supreme Court judges were Justice Suresh Chandra, Justice Brian Keith and Justice Chitrasiri Kankani

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

FijiSUN

29 ) http://dailypost.vu/news/chairman-suspends-gm-and-financial-controller/article_2e0f7194-6f71-50b3-a0fe-3fc74b3de264.html

INFRASTRUCTURE

30) http://dailypost.vu/news/sealing-works-tonight/article_d924d022-c55e-5b87-8742-839a98c67151.html

LAW&ORDER


31) Fears PNG tribal tensions could erupt into combat

An electoral office in Papua New Guinea’s Enga province has been moved as fears mount that tribal tensions could erupt into combat.

The Kompiam returning officer, Beto Pokale, told the Post Courier that the office has been moved to Wabag town, some 40 kilometres away.

Mr Pokale said the decision to relocate was made because of fears election rivalries may spark clashes between the Yawan and Tinalapin tribes.

In recent weeks, there have been as many as 25 killings, government offices have been closed and outsiders evacuated from the district.

Mr Pokale said police tried to ease tensions but high-powered firearms had been smuggled in from nearby Sepik province.

He said he, and his four staff, have relocated to Wabag, where intending candidates can nominate in safety until Thursday.25/4/17 RNZI

32) Fiji Military focuses on Humanitarian assistance and disaster response plan

9:20 pm GMT+12, 24/04/2017, Fiji

he Republic of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) is embarking on a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) plan which anticipates risk and challengers.

According to the Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the plan will coordinate and execute HADR activities at the strategic operational and tactical level to support national security interests.

Ratu Inoke assured Members of Parliament this morning that humanitarian action for the future is inevitable.

“The plan put in place by the commander will transform the 6FIR to a dynamic team trained above the normal military training to respond during humanitarian crisis and disasters.Basic recruitments has being expanded to include engineering skills for all new recruits.”

Ratu Inoke highlighted the fundamental shift towards a model of humanitarian action not only strengthen the response to crisis – but also leans to the evolving HADR environment.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Military Forces will be receiving the other three armored personal carriers next month.

RFMF Commander Viliame Naupoto says these three carriers will be used by officers who will be marching in for Tour on duty to the Golan Heights.

Naupoto says this will be a new capability for our military officers.

He said this is the first time the military will operate with such vehicle.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

33) Honiara City Council Mayor Supports Reestablishment Of Capital Punishment

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 04/23/2017 – 13:11

Part of condemnation of barbaric killing of the Chinese couple, calls on government to impose tougher laws to deter further killings

By Teddy Kafo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 24, 2017) – Honiara City Council Mayor Andrew Mua says he is in full support on the call to resurrect capital punishment to people who commits brutal murder.

The City Mayor during yesterday’s tribute ceremony and condemnation of barbaric killing of the Chinese couple calls on government to impose tougher laws to deter further killings of the same nature in the near future.

“I condemn this recent barbaric killing of the couple and I truly support the debate to hang people who commit such heartless killing.

“I call on the government through its judicial arm to review it laws to bring tougher penalties to this kind of people,” City Mayor Mua said.

He continues;

“We cannot keep on going and allow merciless people to take out other people’s life prematurely.

“So policy makers must relook at bringing tougher laws to deter such barbaric killing in the near future,” Mayor Mua said.

The Honiara City Mayor adds that also sets time for us to reflect to past brutal killing in the past which our country has experienced.

“We come together with a common purpose which is to condemn what has happened over the Easter weekend in this building.

“And also to reflect on past barbaric killing of loving citizens of this Hapi Isles,” Mayor Mua added.

He then emphasized the more than 1000 attendants to be good and loyal citizens for the upbringing of the nation.

‘Today we stand at this place regardless of our culture or origin-we are one Hapi Isles of the Solomon Islands.

“We must uphold our Christian values at all times and remember that only God is the giver and taker of lives,” Mayor Mua said.

The solemn procession was staged yesterday with a protest parade from Art Gallery to Town Ground LGZ building where the couple were murdered.

It was attended by more than 1000 Honiara citizens, Chinese business houses, FSII members, churches, government organizations, private business organistions, family friends and the public.

Solomon Star

34)  http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/12774-protest-march

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION

35) Call for more partners in climate change fight

Fiilipe Naigulevu
Tuesday, April 25, 2017-Fijitimes

FIJI not only wants to further its legal commitments under the Paris Agreement, but needed more and all partners in its climate action agenda.

Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this while addressing high-level representatives at the inaugural dialogue between the Group of Twenty (G20) and the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) after the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington.

“The Fijian Presidency of COP 23 (Conference of Parties) and its hosting in Bonn, Germany, is not only symbolic of the building of a real bridge between the V20 and G20, but is a very practical example of how the two groupings can collaborate with each other to tackle climate change,” he said in a Government release yesterday.

“Partners that can help realise to get broader understanding that our actions to tackle the phenomenon also presents longevity and sustainability of both human and our biodiversity lives, improved livelihoods, greater commercial and financial opportunities and advancement of technology and science.”

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the central forum for international co-operation on financial and economic issues. The G20 countries account for more than four-fifths of gross world product and three-quarters of global trade and are home to almost two-thirds of the world’s population.

Its decisions are influential and help to bring about reform at national and multinational levels. Germany took over the presidency of the G20 on December 1, 2016.

The Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers responsible for Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum is a dedicated co-operation initiative of economies systemically vulnerable to climate change which has Fiji and other Pacific island nations among many others as members, works through dialogue and action to tackle global climate change.

Since October 2016, Ethiopia serves as the Chair of the V20.

With respect to development finance, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said while the concessional international development association (IDA) funds had increased, middle income yet small vulnerable states did not have access to such funds.

He stated that such states must be allowed to access such funds and reiterated the need to re-look at climate finance architecture and re-evaluate the onerous and often impractical conditions of accessing climate finance.

36) Project to assess fish, coral health

Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, April 25, 2017-Fijitimes

A BASELINE survey will be conducted in the Northern Lau Group to assess the health of coral and fish communities in the area.

Carried out by the Vatuvara Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the survey will be the first scientific one to be carried out by the Vatuvara Foundation.

A statement from WCS said a team of fish and coral experts would undertake surveys from May 8-16, 2017 on coral reefs around Kaibu, Kanacea, Vatuvara, Yacata and Adavaci islands in Lau and Cakaudrove province.

“Local scientists will collect baseline data on the abundance and diversity of corals and fish species, as well as key invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, wh­ich are an important source of livelihood for local communities,” the statement said.

“The data will be shared with the local communities and used to help establish locally managed marine areas around the islands to support food security and sustainable livelihoods of the people.”

MINING,FORESTRY,FISHERIES,AGRICULTURE

37) Nursery to benefit farmers

Monika Singh
Tuesday, April 25, 2017-Fijitimes

ABOUT 4000 registered yaqona farmers Fiji-wide are expected to benefit from a project assisted by the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council.

FCLC chief executive officer Jiu Daunivalu said they would assist the Yaqona Farmers Association set up a yaqona plant nursery with funds given to them by New Caledonia’s Chamber of Agriculture.

“The Yaqona Farmers Association president Kiniviliame Salabogi brought his concern to the FCLC that yaqona farmers were short on planting material and urgently needed help,” she said.

Ms Daunivalu said they had received a $130,000 assistance from the chamber and channelled some of the funds towards the nursery.

“We are grateful to the Chamber of Agriculture for not only their financial assistance, but in working with FCLC to help us develop mutual projects.”

Located in the Waimalua farming area in Korovou, the nursery is capable of growing 10,000 plants from yaqona seedlings, supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The nursery will be open to the 4000 registered yaqona farmers Fiji-wide to assist in their replanting efforts,” said Mr Salabogi.

Ms Daunivalu said the agriculture industry recorded more than $200 million in losses after the devastating effect of Tropical Cyclone Winston with severe supply shortages in yaqona supply which led to the increase in price of the commodity by $100 per kg.

Some of the worst hit yaqona farming areas included Ra, Naitasiri, Tailevu, Bua, Macuata and the Lomaiviti group.

She said mandated by Government to represent the interests of non-sugar farmers in Fiji, the council now had a membership of about 30,000 farmers on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

Ms Daunivalu said she was “encouraging other yaqona farming provinces to set up and register their respective associations under the council’s banner to enable access to assistance from FCLC.”

38 ) http://dailypost.vu/news/minister-launches-potato-planting-on-tanna/article_9c5f7346-a55f-552a-bb17-9397992c1ace.html

39) Clans to get 30pc equity
April 25, 2017The NationalBusiness
By MARK HAIHUIE
MORE than 30 per cent of the direct equity in the Ok Tedi Mine Limited will be transferred by the Government to the landowners of Western.
This was formalised in the signing of the Head of Agreement by the Department of Petroleum and Energy on behalf of the State, and landowner representatives. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was also present.
Those who will share the 33 per cent equity include landowners from the mine villages, Community Mine Continuation Agreement region and the Western government.
The Government also approved the signing of the equity benefit sharing memorandum of agreement which provides the framework on how the proceeds of dividend payments will be applied.
Mineral Resources Development Company managing director Augustine Mano said it was the culmination of the government plan that had been ongoing since 2014.
They had agreed then that the OTML equity be distributed thus: 9 per cent for mine villages, 12 per cent for the CMCA and 12 per cent for the provincial government.
CMCA president Richard Zumoi thanked the Government on behalf of the landowners and assured Ok Tedi of their support on its operations.
“We have 130,000 people – three quarters of Western and our struggle for this resource benefits had been overlooked by past governments. We know there were tough times last year with Ok Tedi really struggling. That is why we really appreciate this K50 million. But this year should improve to K100 million would be better,” he said.

40) Fish trade discussed

April 25, 2017The NationalBusiness
By JACKLYN SIRIAS
MEMBERS of the World Trade Organisation from Pacific island countries are in Port Moresby to discuss global issues affecting the fishing industry.
WTO ambassador Mere Falemaka told The National that the workshop was to update members on the fisheries subsidies and negotiations taking place in Geneva.
She said they had to bring in trade and fisheries officials to discuss issues because many times, trade officials were not fully aware of the structures of the fisheries sector.
“The workshop is to ensure they are on the same pace as the fisheries resources as a major contributor to the economies of the member countries and the depletion of the resource by harmful fisheries subsidies will threaten their livelihoods and existence,” Falemaka said.
Falemaka said it was the first of the four workshops to be held in 2017 for WTO member countries to discuss the implementation of the existing agreements and prepare members to discuss the Doha development agenda issues negotiated in Geneva.
Its objective is to lower trade barriers around the world and facilitate increased global trade.
Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry Secretary John Andrias said such regional activities brought together countries to exchange views on matters of shared interests and importance.
“We are not initial demanders of the fisheries subsidies negotiations in WTO but this does not undermine the fact that fisheries is an important resource for PNG,” he said.

WOMAN,YOUTH,CHILD


41) Usamate speaks of youth unemployment

Repeka Nasiko
Tuesday, April 25, 2017=Fijitimes

YOUTH unemployment could be avoided if employers and institutions like the Fiji National University worked together to develop impending graduates with internship offers.

While speaking at a Fiji Airways and FNU agreement signing in Nadi recently, Minister for Employment Jone Usamate said giving university students a chance to carry out theory work in a workplace would help in their development before starting their careers.

Mr Usamate said certain workplaces did not offer graduates what they had learnt in university.

“In the world now, we’re having problems with youth unemployment,” he said.

“There’s also the added problem that we are finding globally, between what the institutions teach and what the employers’ expectations are. So it’s great to have a program like this where those who are about to graduate have the opportunity to work in a company that allows them to touch up the areas where there may be some shortcomings.

“And also give those added competencies and the ability to be able to work in a real life setting.”

Mr Usamate said Government’s National Employment Centre was another aspect of its efforts to reduce youth unemployment.

“This is something that the Government has been trying to do, not just with individual institutions but with the National Employment Centre.

“We give unemployed youths and graduates internships and employment opportunities that are suitable to what they have learnt and what skills that they have to be able to become productive individuals.”

SPORT

42 ) http://dailypost.vu/vanuatu_sports/pacific-mini-games-scores-a/article_81a45c53-482c-5fc3-8a93-6ee7d4b4c201.html

43) Eight set for cup

April 25, 2017The NationalSports

EIGHT teams have been confirmed to compete in the 2017 Digicel Cup competition scheduled to kick off this weekend.
Papua New Guinea National Rugby League Competition (PNG-NRLC) chairman Adrian Chow said nine applications were received.
He said eight franchises — Port Moresby Vipers, Hela Wigmen, Agmark Gurias, reigning premiers Lae Tigers, Goroka Lahanis, Whagi Tumbe, Mendi Muruks and Enga Mioks — were successful while Hagen Eagles’ application was rejected.
“The executive management board considered all the applications thoroughly and did not accept the Eagles application because it is determined to manage a national competition free of violence,” Chow said.
“This objective is to rid violence completely from the sport and is supported by all stakeholders.”
He said the newlook PNG-NRLC is sending a strong message to everyone that violence in sport would not be tolerated.
He said no applications were received from Gulf Isapea and TNA Lions.
“The board offered an extension of time to them but no response was received hence they won’t be participating this season,” Chow said.
He said there would be 14 rounds of home and away games.
The competition kicks off on Sunday and after 14 weeks of home and away games, only the top four will proceed to a three-week finals series.
Chow said Digicel would remain the naming rights sponsor with SP Brewery as platinum sponsors under the restructure.
“We are grateful to have the financial support of these two major businesses as well as the support of many firms and provincial governments through their sponsorship and support of the individual franchises,” Chow said.
He said the season would be launched in Port Moresby tomorrow.
“The public is invited to the Vision City amphitheatre at midday to witness the return of the Digicel Cup and the players parading their new uniforms for the 2017 season.”

44) Fighting spirit

Maciu Malo
Tuesday, April 25, 2017-Fijitimes

FIJIANA head coach Iliesa Tanivula commended the sacrifices and perseverance endured by his players in camp that enabled them to achieve another milestone during the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Kitakyushu during the weekend.

He said reaching the World Sevens Series semi-finals for the first time together with the naming of two players in the dream team, were testaments of the hard work put in by the players.

Tanivula said his troops had been consistent in their performance despite the number of disadvantages faced prior to the tournament.

Unlike the Fiji men’s 7s team, Fijian players are not contracted and they don’t have many local tournaments to best test their combination.

“And to perform well against the best in the world, was an indication of the players’ dedication,” said Tanivula.

“I am immensely proud of the girls. We don’t have a local competition where we can gauge more players available, but to compete at the world series and keep improving, is a testament of the players’ hard work and sacrifice. And we have been really lucky not to have any major injuries, which is always a set-back when you look for consistency in performance.”

The former New Zealand 7s rep said the players had learned a lot from previous world 7s tournaments and had improved in each tournament.

“The side finished fifth in its last tournament and has finished fourth over the weekend.

“We’re fighting above our weight and getting into the semi-finals has been huge for this group of players and has made us more hungry and desperate.

“It won’t be an easy ride. There will be losses along the way, but we just got to learn fast from them and move on and just keep our heads down and work hard and work smart.”

Skipper Ana Maria Roqica and Miriama Naiobasali were named in the Dream Team with Naiobasali scoring the most tries over the weekend. The side returns home tomorrow.

45 ) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-25/newcastle-united-promoted-to-premier-league-following-41-thrashing-of-preston-north-end/1667034

46 )  http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-24/richmond-beats-melbourne-demons-by-13-points-at-mcg-to-make-excellent-start-to-afl-season/1666940

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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