Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1109 ( Wednesday 8 August 2017 )

MELANESIA

1) UN urged by Vanuatu to act on West Papua human rights

Vanuatu has urged the United Nations to take action on Indonesian human rights abuses in West Papua.

Speaking during a debate of the UN general assembly in New York, a Vanuatu representative said his government continued to receive reports of human rights violations in Papua.

Setareki Waqanitoga said hundreds of Papuans were recently arrested by Indonesian police for holding peaceful demonstrations.

Mr Waqanitoga welcomed acknowledgement of the Papua situation by UN Special Rapporteurs on basic rights.

But he called on the UN Human Rights Council to do more.

“We call on the council to work with the Indonesian government to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to visit West Papua to get the objective and independent view of the situation on the ground in that region,” he said.

“(We) also call on the government of Indonesia to grant free and full access of international journalists to West Papua, and allow a human rights fact-finding mission by the Pacific Islands Forum to visit West Papua.07 August 2017 – “http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336675/un-urged-by-vanuatu-to-act-on-west-papua-human-rights

MELANESIAN AFFAIRS/WELFARE

2a ) Manager At Vanuatu Provident Fund Dismissed After Alleged Sexual Harassment She Raised Against Her Superior

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 08/06/2017 – 09:51

No reasons were provided for dismissal, not the first time a senior manager has been dismissed without explanation

By Dan McGarry

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, August 05, 2017) – In a letter dated July 28 2017, Vanuatu National Provident Fund chairman Alain Lew informed Doreen Lango, Manager of Member Services at the fund, that she had been dismissed.

No reasons were provided in the letter, but Ms Lango insists that her dismissal is related to a sexual harassment complaint she raised against her superior, former General Manager Viliame Baleitavua.

A related criminal complaint and investigation resulted in a decision by the State Prosecutions office to drop the charges and to close their file.

Ms Lango alleges that Mr Baleitavua approached her outside a bar on October 30, 2016 where she was standing with a number of friends, and that he roughly grabbed her arm and made aggressive sexual overtures.

Multiple witness statements confirm that the woman attempted to restore calm by introducing her boss to her friends and colleagues.

One witness statement alleged that she “kindly reminded Viliame that his act is not right and that he is her boss when Viliame replied… ‘I do not care, tonight you will be with me.’”

The witnesses agree that Mr Baleitavua then pulled her forcefully into the bar, against her will.

Another witness statement alleges that, once inside, Mr Baleitavua did not release his grip on the woman, and that he “grabbed Doreen by the hand and told her that ‘I will f- — you tonight.’”

Ms Lango managed to elude the man, she said, by feigning a need to use the toilet. When she emerged from the bar, a witness described her as ‘terrified’ and ‘panic-stricken’.

She told the Daily Post that she was frightened that she would face physical harm if she were left alone with him that night.

Mr Baleitavua is presently in Fiji. The Daily Post has tried to reach him via both his personal and work email, and was still awaiting a response when this story went to press.

Ms Lango told the Daily Post that she filed two complaints concerning the event. The first, she said, was to Human Resources department within the VNPF. The second was a criminal complaint alleging “drunken and disorderly behaviour, sexual harassment, intentional assault and abusive language”, according to the incident report.

A subsequent letter from the State Prosecutor to the VNPF board referred the sexual harassment complaint back to the VNPF to be handled according to their own policies and practices.

In an interview with the VNPF board chairman and the acting General Manager, the Daily Post asked if any in-house investigation had been conducted. The chair responded that they had not received any complaint, and that they had been awaiting the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Mr Lew expressed frustration that there seemed to be ongoing confusion concerning the status of the case, claiming that they received mixed signals from the State Prosecutor, along with significant delays.

Ultimately, he said, Mr Baleitavua sent him a copy of a letter from the State Prosecutor, stating that he was no longer under investigation.

The VNPF chairman informed the Daily Post that, effective June 21, 2017, Mr Baleitavua tendered his resignation to the board.

Asked why there was no internal investigation into what appears to be a clear and corroborated breach of staff rules and regulations, the chairman insisted that Ms Lango had taken her complaint ‘outside’, and that no internal human resources complaint had been initiated.

Ms Lango flatly denies this, and told the Daily Post that she lodged a complaint with Human Resources immediately afterward, before she lodged the criminal complaint. She maintains that the criminal complaint and the accusation of professional misconduct are two separate and distinct undertakings.

The June 20 legal opinion concurs, stating that “the complaint needs to be dealt with internally separately from any criminal proceedings.”

She further alleges that VNPF staff actively tried to intervene with the investigation both with the police and with the State Prosecutor. This charge was flatly denied by both VNPF board and management when confronted with the allegation, who insisted that neither staff nor management had any contact or interaction whatsoever with the investigation.

But a written statement from Ms Lango describes an event in which she witnessed two staff members descend from a company vehicle in which Mr Baleitavua was sitting, and enter the police station. She claims that she spoke to an officer, who told her that they had come seeking the investigating officer in her complaint.

Asked why Ms Lango was dismissed, Mr Lew first reminded the Daily Post that VNPF policies allowed for the termination of permanent staff without cause, provided the three-month notice period was paid out in full. This is supported by a June 20 legal opinion solicited by the board.

Mr Lew insisted that Ms Lango’s dismissal was in no way related to the sexual harassment complaint, and hinted at ‘other reasons’ without providing details.

For her part Ms Lango described a number of tense confrontations with senior management in which she was accused of non-performance. She claims these accusations were unjustified.

In a follow-up interview with the Daily Post, she responded that if the Fund had reasons for sacking her, why did they not provide them in her letter of dismissal?

This is not the first time a senior manager has been dismissed without explanation. Anniva Tarilongi lost a case against the VNPF following her dismissal as General Manager when a court ruled that dismissal without cause was valid under clause 13.1 of the staff contract.

Mr Baleitavua was also facing dismissal under identical terms, said Mr Lew, when the board was informed of his resignation.

Vanuatu Daily Post

TOK PISIN( Papua NiuGini ),PIJIN (Solomon Islands), BISLAMA ( Vanuatu )

2b) Sampela i dai long ileksan pait long Mendi long SHP ( Tok Pisin/PNG )

Updated 7 August 2017, 16:07 AEST
Sam Seke

Ol pipol long Mendi, biktaun blong Southern Highlands Province i frait long laif blong ol yet bihain long bikpela pait long taun long Sarere we i lukim samting olsem 5 pela bipol ibin dai.

Niusman Melvin Levongo i tok ol sapota blong sitting Gavana William Powi na ol arapela kandidet ibin yusim ol haepaoa gan long dispela pait long namel long taun.

Em i tok pait ibin kamap bihain long ol tokwin long social media olsem oli diklearim man husat i kam naba 2 long kaunt ikam inap nau, Joseph Kobol olsem em i win pinis long regional seat taim ol ino kauntim yet planti ballot box.

Levongo i ripot olsem olgeta pipol long taun i frait long laif blong ol na i ron na hait taim tupela lain ia i wok long sut long ol dispela factory-made haepaoa gan.

Em i tok planti pipol ibin kisim bagarap tu tasol ol bai had long go long haus sik long wanem bai ol narapela lain bai kilim ol gen.

Em i tok, Electoral Commissioner i givim oda pinis long ol bai go kautim ol 84 box we i stap yet long Mount Hagen long Western Highlands, olsem wanpela nuetral peles.
http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/tokpisin/2017-08-07/sampela-i-dai-long-ileksan-pait-long-mendi-long-shp/1691864

2c) Triage sistim long NRH Emergency Department long Honiara (Pijin/Solomons )

Postim 7 August 2017, 16:05 AEST
Sam Seke

National Referral Hospital blong Solomon Islands long Honiara hem gohet fo iusim finis wanfala niu sistim fo lukim hu long olketa sik pipol wea i go fo getem tritment nao bae olketa i dil wetem fastaem.

Disfala sistim wea olketa i kolem Triage hem stap long Emergency Department, an hem fo mekem olketa nes an dokta fo faedem aot fastam hu nao hem sik tumas an fo olketa mas dil wetem fastaem.

National Referral Hospital hem garem finis wanfala kaen sistim olsem, bat disfala niu sistim hem wanfala niu wan wea Lynne Wanefalea, wanfala educator long Monash University School of Rural Medicine an wanfala nurse long emergency department long Bendigo Hospital long Victoria nao hem go statim.

Mrs Wanefalea hem bin go waka olsem Emergency Nurse Advisor long Naba 9 Emergency Department fo wanfala yia kasem June disfala yia.

Hem se tu olsem taem hem waka long Naba 9, hem lukim plande challenge wea olketa nes an dokta i fesim everi de, bat hem se olketa i save waka had an dil wetem olketa.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/tokpisin/2017-08-07/triage-sistim-long-nrh-emergency-department-long-honiara/1691902

2d) Mi nidim sapot blong yumi everiwan: Kalo ( Bislama/Vanuatu )

By Raymond Nasse/Vanuatu Daily Post

Yestede long 5am, Consul General blong Vanuatu long Hong Kong, Andrew Leong, President blong Port Vila Football Association, Stephen Felix mo CEO blong VASANOC, Henry Tavoa mo olgeta fren mo famili oli kam blong talem tata long Bong Kalo.

Kalo we hemi flae aot long 7.15am yestede blong go long Madrid, Spain, blong trial wetem Deportivo Leganes, hemi flae aot wetem koj, Moise Poida, we bambae

hemi karem Kalo i go kasem Madrid mo wet long hem i trial finis, sapos i gud bambae Poida hem wan i kambak, sapos no be tugeta i kambak bageken.

“Mi stap go ya wetem wan ‘heart’ blong lion we i hangre blong givim kill, mo bambae mi yusum hangre ya blong winim trial blong mi,” Kalo i talem hemia long Daily Sports taem hemi stap long Sydney blong jam long plen i go long Hong Kong.

“Mi karem olgeta gudfala toktok finis long Sande naet long olgeta fren, famili, jif mo kolik long Tafea FC mo bambae mi no letem eni wan daon from mi stap go ya blong soemaot long Europe se yumi long Vanuatu tu i save plei futbol.

“Mi nidim preya blong yufala nomo blong karem mi go kasem end blong trial blong mi we mi luk fowod finis blong karem wan profesonol kontrak wetem Deportivo.

“Mi stap go ya nao blong openem rod blong olgeta lokol pleia i go long Europe.”

Kalo hemi wantem tekem taem ya blong talem tankio long olgeta ya:

-Au Bon Marche

-Consul General, Andrew Leong

-Minister blong Education, Jean Pierre Nirua

-Minister blong Public Utilities, Jotham Napat

-CEO blong VASANOC, Henry Tavoa

-Port Vila Football Association

-Tafea FC

-Shepherds United FC

-Koj Moise Poida

-Everi fren, famili mo fan we oli bin helpem long rod blong hem i kam kasem naoia

Kalo hemi se i stap go ya blong stap kasem end blong 2017/2018 sisen.

Daily Sport i andastan se hemi stap go trial long sekon tim blong Deportivo Leganes, we oli stap plei long namba 3 divisen blong La Liga, we i min se eni taem hemi mekem gud oli save putum hem long fes tim long La Liga.

POLYNESIA

3a) Nine Tongan Police Officers Suspended For Criminal And Disciplinary Matters

Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/27/2017 – 11:47

Police commissioner: further directed 16 criminal investigations currently being carried out against police officers, by the Tonga Police Professional Standards Unit

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 27, 2017) – Nine male police officers have been suspended from Tonga Police for criminal and disciplinary matters. Another 16 criminal investigations are currently underway against other police officers.

Of the nine, eight were suspended in the past year. Six were for criminal matters and three for disciplinary matters, including six senior constables, two probation constables and one senior officer.

Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell said he had set standards and expected them to be met as the public rightly expects the highest level of professionalism and ethical behaviour from police.

“There is absolutely zero tolerance for unlawful and ill disciplined behaviour. Every police officer is accountable to the law, not above it.”

Criminal investigations

The Commissioner has further directed 16 criminal investigations currently being carried out against police officers, by the Tonga Police Professional Standards Unit (PSU).

There are also 38 disciplinary investigations underway.

PSU is responsible for conducting investigations into police officers, led by a Chief Inspector and nine staff. Four more investigators are also set to join.

He said they have seen a significant reduction of crime and the road toll from good work by good police officers working with the community.

“I will not tolerate having their reputation sullied by the actions of a few.”

He said that the Minister of Police Hon Mateni Tapueluelu was highly supportive of the tough stance taken by the Commissioner, and told a recent Police Recruit graduation ceremony that their integrity was not for sale.

As part of police public awareness campaigns, PSU has presented Police Station Open Days, to develop further understand of their role and how to lodge complaints against police.

Under the Tonga Police Act 2010, the Police Board, through recommendations from the Police Executive Committee, has terminated the employment of 12 police officers in the past five-years in relation to serious misconduct or loss of confidence in their performance.

There have also been five police officers convicted in the Supreme Court for serious criminal offences, in the past five-years.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

3b ) Tropical disease ruled out in Tonga

The World Health Organisation says the tropical disease, lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, has been phased out in Tonga after plaguing the country for more than three centuries.

The sickness now affects less than one percent of Tonga’s population, which is the benchmark for ruling out a disease as a public health problem.

Tonga was cited as one of the worst-affected countries in the world in the 1970s, when a study revealed 45 percent of Tonga’s population was infected.

The WHO launched a global program to eliminate the disease in 2000, but the organisation has advised Tonga to remain cautious with post-elimination monitoring over the next decade in case the disease is reintroduced.8 August 2017 – RNZI

4 ) Protest over Hawaiian telescope construction

7 August 2017

A Native Hawaiian group protesting against the construction of a giant telescope on a sacred mountain say they’re shocked at the way police removed protestors.

Last week, protesters set up a roadblock to stop a convoy of trucks to the summit, and seven people were arrested by the police.

They faced an array of charges, including disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway, failing to obey a police officer and resisting arrest.

A member of the group, Tiare Lawrence, said their treatment was uncalled for, especially as one person had to be taken away by ambulance.

“Continuously time and time again, the voice and the will of the Hawaiian people fall on deaf ears. Laws were put in place to protect our interests but get continually broken. Haleakala is a conservation district. There are many criteria that needs to be met before anything can be developed.”

The US$340 million solar telescope is expected to become the world’s largest when it is completed.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336655/protest-over-hawaiian-telescope-construction

4a ) Alcohol tax increase in the works for Samoa

Alcohol could soon be more expensive in Samoa with a proposal to increase alcohol excise tax due before parliament.

The Samoa Law Reform Commission contributed to the drafting of the new alcohol bill, which includes tax increases to match the alcohol percentage of each alcoholic beverage.

Alcohol has repeatedly been one of the main contributing factors to violent crimes in Samoa.

In response, the government stepped up support for the commission’s recommendation to increase the excise tax on alcohol.

The commission also proposed the tax on low alcohol drinks should be reduced to encourage their production and consumption.

The Attorney General’s Office is currently drafting the Alcohol Control Bill for approval by the Cabinet before it goes to Parliament.7.8.2017 -RNZI

4b) http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336703/stronger-forum-secretariat-mooted-by-samoa-leader

5) Governor’s power of veto could be changed in American Samoa8:16 pm today

A constitutional change in American Samoa will be on the ballot next year if a measure introduced in the territory’s Senate is approved.

Senators Tuaoloa Fruean and Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua sponsored a legislative veto override measure, which had been voted down in previous elections.

If approved, a bill that is vetoed by the governor will still be able to pass if it is supported by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate.

Currently, if a governor vetoes a bill it is sent back to the Fono to be repassed by each chamber before going back to the governor, who can send it to the United States’ interior secretary for a final decision.

The secretary can either approve or kill it.

This rule irks local leaders in American Samoa, who say it is reminiscent of the days of appointed governors and needs to change.7.8.2017 RNZI

MICRONESIA

5 ) US Senate Passes Bill That Adds To US Worker Training Fund, Bars CW Permits For New Construction Workers

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 08/06/2017 – 11:05

Congressman Kilili: asking for more foreign workers was ‘a hard sell,’ adding that ‘there is a sentiment on both sides of the aisle that the foreign-worker [CW] program should not be extended’ when it ends in Dec. 2019

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 04, 2017) – Six months after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 339, the U.S. Senate finally approved the bill Wednesday with major amendments.

Introduced by U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan early in January, the bill originally proposed to increase the CW cap by 2,000 in fiscal year 2017.

But the U.S. Senate version will add only 350 permits, 60 of which are for healthcare workers and 10 for power-plant operators.

The bill now heads back to the U.S. House for final approval before being transmitted to President Donald Trump. Fiscal year 2017 ends on Sept. 30, 2017.

In a statement, Kilili said asking for more foreign workers was “a hard sell,” adding that “there is a sentiment on both sides of the aisle that the foreign-worker [CW] program should not be extended” when it ends in Dec. 2019.

Rep. Angel Demapan, for his part, expressed concern over the bill’s “short-sighted approach in not setting aside a certain number of permits for construction workers.”

He added, “By the time this bill becomes law, if it does become law, there will be just a few weeks or days left for businesses to avail themselves of the additional CW slots. It will also be a challenge since employers are asked to submit their CW petitions six months in advance.”

Still, he said, he was thankful to U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell for setting aside 60 permits for healthcare workers and 10 permits for power-plant operators.

However, “I have also been contacted by almost all of the commonwealth’s longstanding and honest construction companies which have, over the past decades, helped build our homes, schools, churches and roads, and they have expressed their disappointment with regards to how H.R. 339 was crafted to put construction companies out of business and put the future of our economy in a chokehold. If Congress wants to end development, then they should not do so at the expense of all construction projects in our community. We have few construction workers left on island, and I am deeply concerned about the adverse impact this bill will have on our island residents and their chance of building affordable homes in the future,” he said.

“What we need is legislation that addresses our long-term needs and provides equity for residents and businesses alike.”

Gov. Ralph Torres said his administration will continue to focus on long-term solutions to address the islands’ workforce issue.

“I want to thank [Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee] Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell for their work in holding a hearing on the bill [in April] and for meeting with me in Washington, D.C. to discuss their concerns and the needs of our community. This increase [in CW permits] allows us to keep critical positions in our workforce, especially our nurses and healthcare workers at [the Commonwealth healthcare Corp.],” the governor said.

“While the passage of this bill is positive for our community, we will continue to focus on a long-term solution to the workforce needs of our growing economy. This includes stepping up our efforts to recruit and train our local workforce and making sure our hospital will continue to have the nurses it needs and our businesses will continue to have the workers they need. Because as the [U.S. Government Accountability Office] report from May stated, guest workers are still a vital part of our economy, and the removal of all guest workers on CW-1 permits will have a drastically negative effect on our economy and our livelihood as a community.”

In a separate interview, Senate President Arnold Palacios said the bill “merely resolved the issue with CHCC, but it doesn’t address the overall issue of the declining numbers of CW’s. FY 2017 is almost done. We have to take everything into consideration now. We have a temporary fix, so we’ll take it from there and continue to work on a long-term solution.”

‘Not enough but a good start’

Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation board chairwoman Lauri Ogumoro said allotting 60 CW permits for healthcare workers in the CNMI is a good start, but it is not enough.

“I am glad they are listening,” she said, referring to the U.S. lawmakers. “But we need, at the very least, three times that number just for the hospital.”

In an earlier interview with Ogumoro, she said they were planning to ask the U.S. Congress to reserve 250 CW slots for nurses and ancillary staff needed by the CNMI’s only hospital.

CHCC plans to seek other U.S. work visas for its nonresident healthcare personnel, but it will cost a lot of money which is why Ogumoro said they will need help from the Legislature.

CHCC board member Leticia Reyes said 60 CW permits will not address the nursing shortage in the CNMI, “but it’s a good start.”

CHCC director of nursing Renea Raho expressed gratitude to Congressman Kilili for working on the bill’s passage.

“It is a big help for us,” Raho said.

CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said: “We are very grateful to Congressman Sablan for including the reservation of 60 new permits for healthcare workers and for always prioritizing health.”

Marianas Variety

NEW ZEALAND

6a) 
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336692/tokelau-forces-exit-of-nz-administrator

6b ) NZ pleased PNG election issues to be addressed

New Zealand’s foreign minister says he is pleased that Papua New Guinea’s newly elected government has committed to addressing issues with its general election.

PNG’s 2017 election culminated in the start of its tenth parliament last week, and a vote for prime minister which returned Peter O’Neill to power.

This followed a six week election rife with electoral roll flaws and ballot irregularities.

Despite the problems, New Zealand’s Gerry Brownlee said it was important to maintain perspective, pointing out that a government was now in place, while claiming the election was more peaceful than previous ones.

Ten people were killed in election-related violence in PNG’s Highlands in the past several days, bringing the election death toll to almost 20.

Having returned to power, the O’Neill-led government promised to review and address election flaws.

This was welcomed by Mr Brownlee who indicated New Zealand would support these efforts.

“Elections in Papua New Guinea are renowned for being among the most expensive and logistically difficult in the world,” said Mr Brownlee.

“While this one had some clear shortcomings, it’s important to maintain perspective – this election period was more peaceful than previous elections and Papua New Guinea does now have a government in place.

“I’m pleased to see that prime minister O’Neill has committed to addressing some of issues experienced and New Zealand will look to support this work, including through assistance from the New Zealand Electoral Commission.”7 August 2017- RNZI

HEALTH


7) Shortage forces Bougainvilleans to buy medicines overseas

A former MP in Bougainville has been forced to buy prescription drugs in the Philippines because of an ongoing shortage in Papua New Guinea.

In June, it was reported PNG was in the grrip of a nationwide drug shortage and that some hospitals had run out of medical supplies completely.

Last month, Theresa Jaintong was a patient at Arawa Hospital in central Bougainville.

She said patients were told to try and fill presecriptions outside of the hospital because its dispensary’s cupboards were bare.

Ms Jaintong said some of the drugs could not be found in Bougainville, so she asked friends in Manila to help.

She said this solution was not available to most patients in Bougainville and that they were often forced to go without the correct medication.

The Bougainville government has complained for several years at what it says is the failure of the PNG government to pay the province what it is constitutionally bound to provide.07 August 2017 -RNZI

POLITIC

8a) http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336706/aspiring-png-politicians-called-on-to-step-up-after-violence

8) No Fijian should be threatened to vote for a party: PM Bainimaram
a
7:51 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2017, Fiji

“We will not tolerate any Fijian being threatened, bullied or black-mailed to vote for a political party in the 2018 general election” says Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

This assurance was given to residents of Kuluvota Moala settlement in Nadera by Bainimarama.

Families in this settlement are living in fear after they claim the landowner in the area threatened to evict them if they don’t vote for Sitiveni Rabuka’s Opposition SODELPA party.

The Prime Minister, Attorney General and the Police Commissioner met with residents of this small informal community to assure them they’re safe and there’s no need to live in distress.

Bainimarama says his assurance of safety is for all communities regardless of whether they live in informal or formal settlements.

“You have the right to vote for anyone. That rights shouldn’t be taken from you. So feel safe. Don’t feel threatened about where you staying and because you might be removed if you don’t vote for a particular party in this case SODELPA. I’m not here as FijiFirst. I’m here as your Prime Minister.

We want to tell you that you’re safe in Fiji. No one is to threaten you. I want you to tell us if anyone is threatening you so we can continue to assure you and tell you that you’re safe. We don’t want people to come and tell you because you’ve gone to the papers you must now Go. We don’t want that to happen,” said Bainimarama.

Residents living in this informal settlement don’t have proper lease documents after a Tenancy at Will arrangement with the landowners.

They say the land is owned by Litia Rawiriwiri – the national President of the SODELPA Women’s Wing who allegedly told them this week that they will be evicted from the land they are living in if they don’t vote for 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s SODELPA party.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho told FBC News that while it’s too early to comment, investigations have begun.

They will forward complaints to the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption if they find any breach of the electoral process.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

BUSINESS

9) Fiji’s foreign reserves hit all-time high
6:14 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2017, Fiji

Fiji’s foreign reserves have reached a new peak of $2.3 billion (US$1.1 billion)

This was announced by Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama who says it’s an all-time high for Fiji’s Economy.
“Two point three billion dollars, never amount seen before in our economy in all its history,” he said.

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this increased foreign reserve indicates Fiji’s economy has performed extremely well.

“We still have increased not just in terms of normal sum of foreign reserve of our ability to purchase goods in the last five month. Those things help determine our ability to get better interest rates when we’re actually negotiating with development partners or multilateral banks.”

Sayed-Khaiyum adds the two point three billion dollars is about four time the level of Fiji’s foreign reserves in 2005.

Tourism Minister, Faiyaz Koya says a chuck of the earnings is generated from the tourism Industry.

“There are different sectors involved in all of this, it’s also remittances and sugar but in general it’s a good thing for Fiji and if you do the comparison to pervious years it’s actually quite good.”

Fiji’s foreign reserves are also an indication of the increase in International trade.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

10) PNG Treasurer: Economy Under Huge Strain, Some Things Have To Change

Submitted by PIR Editor on Sun, 08/06/2017 – 09:34

Treasury this week released its Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook which revealed a budget blowout of more than $US309M amid collapsed revenues and higher than expected expenditure

By Johnny Blades

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 04, 2017) – The new man in charge of Papua New Guinea’s Treasury admits some changes in government direction are necessary to manage an economy under huge strain.

Charles Abel from the ruling People’s National Congress party has been promoted to treasurer and deputy prime minister in a new caretaker cabinet of the coalition government which emerged from the recent election.

Having been elected as prime minister again when PNG’s tenth parliament sat for the first time two days ago, Peter O’Neill has rewarded Mr Abel for his work in charge of the Ministry of National Planning over recent years.

Seen as one of the most talented MPs in PNG’s diverse parliament, the Alotau MP has his work cut out for him in the Treasury role.

Treasury this week released its Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook which revealed a budget blowout of more than a billion kina [$US309 million] amid collapsed revenues and higher than expected expenditure.

On the ground, PNG’s grassroots communities are struggling. There are few jobs available. Most hospitals are experiencing drastic shortages of basic supplies. Education is free but schools across the country are barely able to function for lack of resourcing. Teachers, doctors, public servants, police and others hardly ever get paid regularly.

The O’Neill-led government which ruled in the five-year term that finished with last month’s election tended to blame PNG’s economic woes since 2014 on slumps in global commodity, oil and gas prices, as well as prolonged drought.

The new Treasurer echoed this, but conceded the government had to be realistic about the way it had been conducting itself.

Mr Abel said that as he moved into the Treasury portfolio there would be a review of government processes: looking at revenue streams, fulfilling the budget and the status PNG’s deficit. According to him, there were certain things that had to change.

“We’ve got to realise that there’s a limit to borrowing. We’ve got to realise that we’ve got to live within our means,” he said.

“I think some of our procurement processes, and some of our investments into infrastructure are good, but there needs to be perhaps more emphasis on other aspects of human development and get back to some of the basics: like ensuring there’s medicines in our hospitals, ensuring that whilst we provide access to education, it’s quality education.”

Blow-out

Since the start of the year, PNG’s public debt has blown out from 21 billion kina [$US6.5 billion] to 25 billion [$US7.7 billion], or 29 percent of GDP to 34.5 percent.

It became more clear that prime minister Peter O’Neill’s positive spin about the economy in the past two years was not the full picture when the previous treasurer, Patrick Pruaitch said in April that the economy had “fallen off a cliff”.

He blamed the government’s spending spree for exacerbating an economic rut where jobs in the formal sector had been plummeting since 2014.

“All Papua New Guineans would be better off today if our government had given more consideration to the quality of its spending than in promoting extravagant projects built at highly inflated costs,” said Mr Pruaitch. A short time later he was sacked by Mr O’Neill, and his National Alliance Party, the second biggest party in parliament, is now part of the opposition.

While Mr Pruaitch suggested the trouble that PNG’s economy had found itself in was a result of the prime minister’s management of the economy, Mr O’Neill said his was a consultative cabinet where decisions were made as a team.

After the acrimony between these two in the just-completed election, Mr Abel’s appointment offers a chance for this government to move on afresh. The challenge at hand requires difficult decisions to be made.

The mid-year outlook released this week from the PNG Treasury was another glimpse of the real state of a national economy that had been grossly mismanaged, according to Paul Flanagan, an Australian economist with a long interest in PNG’s economy.

According to him, the government had already implemented spending cuts in certain sectors, but would need to do more.

“So those expenditure cuts that have already been put in place are more severe than those imposed on Greece,” he explained.

“So you don’t want to hit expenditure much harder than what’s already occurred, although you may want to redirect where those expenditure cuts are occurring. More cuts towards the public service, less cuts towards education and health.”

Mr Abel wouldn’t be drawn yet on whether there would be more cuts to the public service, but said there would be some challenging times ahead.

“It is my intention over the next few days and leading into the first full session of parliament to come out with some pronouncements around what we are going to do,” he said, adding that the economy was the first item on the government’s priority list.

“But there’s not going to be any knee-jerk reaction. There’ll be a considered series of actions. I want to announce a one hundred-day plan, including some short term measures and also some medium and longer term measures.”

Long-term plan

There is some hope that Mr Abel will try and move PNG’s government policy away from its reliance on the resource extractives industry.

“The country continues to struggle to sort of wean itself off the easy way out, so to speak, and that is relying on the extractives industry and the quick gains from just delivering these larger one-off projects,” said the new treasurer.

There had been too much lip-service, he claimed, on investing in a more sustainable basis for PNG’s economy, particularly in agriculture, tourism, fisheries and forestry.

“There’s massive wealth that we have in terms of the basis for a much better longer-term economy. And there’s things that we’ve embedded in some of our longer term (plans) being formerly the Minister of Planning.

“We want to move things, take some of the hard steps, like banning the export of round logs by 2020, for example; stopping the trans-shipment of tuna; bringing these resources onshore and adding value and creating jobs in Papua New Guinea; utilising our own gas resources to generate cheaper and more sustainable power in the country.”

Mr Abel said there were many obvious steps that the government could take to move to a more longer-term economic foundation, and to respond to the needs of PNG’s citizens.

“The public has raised concerns, and I think as a responsible government we need to respond to those concerns. There are concerns around continued issues of corruption,” he said, indicating the government was committed to introducing legislation to create an Independent Commission against Corruption.

Radio New Zealand International

LAW&ORDER

11 ) 
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336646/china-hails-joint-operation-with-fiji-to-deport-suspects

12) Solomons police raid homebrew operation

Police in Solomon Islands have confiscated about 2000 litres of homebrew, known locally as kwaso, in a raid in Honiara.

Two men and two womenwere arrested and held in police custody.

The police said the kwaso had a street value equivalent to about $US12,000.

Distilling apparatus was also seized during the raid at Lio Ridge in East Honiara.

The police praised members of the public for reporting the illegal activity.

“These illegal substances have already and will continue to affect our youth and cause a lot of anti-social problems within our communities,” said Assistant Commissioner Gwen Ratu.7.8.2017 – RNZI

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION

13) Loggers accused of destroying mangroves in Solomons7 August 2017

A Malaysian logging company has been accused of destroying two hectares of virgin mangrove forest in Solomon Islands’ Malaita Province.

The owners of the forest of Rurata in the East Are ‘Are area in the province’s south are reportedly furious over the destruction caused.

They use mangrove trees as posts for their houses and mangrove swamps provide the habitat for food sources like mud crabs, shellfish and mangrove fruit.

The Solomon Star reported the MEGA logging company cut down the mangrove forest to use the trees as posts for a new wharf it is building.

The paper reported the people were also worried the company had extracted coral from their reefs for the wharf building.RNZI

14) Alarming: Sea-level rise in Solomon Islands doubles global average


10:30 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2017, Solomon Islands

The current sea level rise in Solomon Islands of 7.7mm/year is one of the highest in the world  compared to global average of 3.2mm/year.

Director of Solomon Islands Meteorological Services David Hiba who is now studying at Reading University in the UK said the current sea level in Solomon Island is more than doubled the global average.

“This is the net sea level rise after filtering out noises such as tides, earth movement, meteorological factors etc,” Hiba said.

He explained the rate is both from satellite measurements and gauge measurements (Mbokona Bay wharf) and also tectonic movement (earth’s movement) is measured by a Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) installed at the Met Office at Vaya Ridge.

Climate change is taking the front-line again as regional experts on the issue ready to gather in Honiara later this month.

The Solomon Islands Government, through the Solomon Islands Meteorology Service (SIMS) is hosting two meetings to address the issues of climate change and natural disasters from a Meteorological Service responsibility.

The meetings will be held back to back at the FFA Centre in Honiara, between 14-18 of this month.

SOURCE:SBM ONLINE/PACNEWS

MINING,FORESTRY,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES

15a) http://dailypost.vu/news/vanuatu-to-host-pacific-week-of-agriculture/article_aa33438c-5787-503b-ac29-d47ba870c8ae.html

15b) Uncertainty lingers at Vale in New Caledonia

There is continued uncertainty about the future of the Vale nickel plant in New Caledonia.

Unions were briefed by the local Vale head Daryush Khoshneviss upon his return from the company’s headquarters in Brazil.

Some unions said the plant’s closure may no longer be on the agenda.

A month ago, Vale’s new chief executive Fabio Shvartsman had alarmed New Caledonia with his warning that if no solution was found for the loss-making plant in Goro, the operation would have to close.

Although he said he would not want to invest more money, unions interpreted new comments by Mr Khoshneviss more optimistically.

Efforts are underway among politicians and unions to salvage the plant on which thousands of jobs depend.

A decision by the Vale board about the New Caledonian plant is expected this month.07 August 2017 RNZI

SPORT

16) Fiji’s National Rugby Championship extended squad to march into camp
8:01 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2017, Fiji
The Fiji Rugby Union has released the extended squad for the Fiji team to prepare for the National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Australia after physical and medical tests conducted last week.

The Senirusi Seruvakula coached side will march into a two day camp from Monday, 7 August till Wednesday, 9 August, to begin preparations for their first NRC match against Brisbane City on September 2 at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane.

This is the first year for Fiji to play in the fourth season of Australia’s National Rugby Championship. The nine teams for the 2017 season include three from New South Wales, two from Queensland, and one each from Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Western Australia, and Fiji:

The nine teams compete in a round-robin tournament for the regular season. Each team has four matches at home and four away. The top four teams qualify for the title play-offs with semi-finals and finals.

All players named in the extended squad except those involved in the last Farebrother Challenge are required to meet at the HPU Gym in Suva on Monday, 7 August at 10.30am with the necessary camp and training gear.

The selected players are:
Loose Head Prop – Eroni Mawi, Osea Ganilau, Joeli Veitayaki
Tight Head Prop – Mosese Ducivaki, Samuela Newa, Kalivati Tawake
Hookers – Mosese Gavidi, Samu Suguturaga, Jale Sassen.
Locks – Apisai Tauyavuna, Timoci Temo, Samu Saqiwa, Jale Railalia, Peni Naulago.
Loosies – Sakiusa Nadruku, Jiuta Takubu, Filimoni Seru, Mosese Voka, Vasikali Mudu, Kelevi Naimasi, Peni Waqa
Half Back – Frank Lomani, Seru Cavuilati, Sakiusa Gavidi.
First Five – Alifereti Veitokani, Peceli Nacebe
Second Five – Cyril Reece, Eroni Vasiteri, Josateki Turuva.
Centres – John Stewart, Nemani Talemaitoga, Ifereimi Tovilevu
Wings – Apete Daveta, Eroni Sau, Aporosa Tabulawaki.
Fullback – Meli Nakarawa, Apisalome Waqatabu.

SOURCE: FRU/PACNEWS

17) Tahiti take home Oceania Rugby Cup

8:04 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2017, Cook Islands

Tahiti have beaten the Cook Islands 13 – 9 to claim the title of Oceania Rugby Cup Champions and now advance to a the Aisa/Oceania play off for a place in the RWC 2019 repecharge qualifier.

The inclusion of French club based players gave the team from Tahiti the lift it needed to win against their Polynesian neighbours for the first time.

In wet and windy conditions at the BCI Stadium, Rarotonga, the visitors came out firing posting the first 3 points 2 minutes into the match thanks to the accurate boot of Andoni Jimenez. The home side responded 9 minutes later to have the scores level at 3 all. The first try of the match came 30mins after kick off when Vincent Perez crossed for Tahiti, the same passage of play saw Greg Mullany issued a yellow card.

Gulliaume Brouqui crossed again for Tahiti to score the second try for the match at the 44th minute of the first half.

The second half saw plenty of action without any score change. Reds cards to Tahiti’s Martin Taeae and Samuela Longo Leuta from the Cook Islands saw both teams down to just 14 players before the final whistle.

“Congratulations to Tahiti it was a well fought game” said Cook Islands captain Francis Smith, before thanking their supporters and behind the scenes helpers. He further said that “the boys were disappointed with the result but proud to be Cook Islanders and the team will come back from this loss”.

Tunui Anania Tahiti captain said “firstly I want to thank our hosts the Cook Islands for today’s match and secondly I just wanted to say that I am very proud of the guys, for us this is a historical victory, the first time winning the Oceania Rugby Cup made more beautiful as it was our first win against the Cook Islands”.

“We are absolutely stoked with today’s result, it has been very humbling” said Romi Ropati, Tahiti Coach. “The boys are going to enjoy tonight and celebrate with friends and Family when we return home, after that we will look forward to our preparation on the next step for Rugby World Cup qualification.

Tahiti 13 (TRIES: Perez, Brouqui | PENS: Jimenez | YC: Taeae, Tekurio| RC: Taeae) defeated Cook Islands 9 (PENS: Iroa 3 | YC: Mullany, Willis, Havi, | RC: Leuta)…

source: OCENIA RUGBY/PACNEWS

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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