Opportunists ransack Chinese shop in Buka

Opportunists have ransacked a Chinese shop on Buka, according to Autonomous Region of Bougainville police commander Francis Tokura.

He said they took advantage of concerns raised by tribal leaders about the commercialisation of a traditional Bougainville hat, known as upe.

Tokura said yesterday that tribal leaders from Wakunai in Central Bougainville were concerned that their sacred upe hat was being printed on thongs and clothing such as underwear and bras and sold by Chinese-owned Solmat Trading.

“They had come over to Buka Island on Friday to enquire with the shop owners on the commercialisation of the upe hat without their concern,” he said.

“However, opportunists took advantage of this situation and attempted to loot the shop.

“We quickly intervened and prevented the looting.

“After we had left, thinking that the situation had calmed down, the opportunists targeted another Chinese shop and completely ransacked it.

“It was sad because that Chinese-owned BCM Trading never sold any clothing items with the upe hat printed on it.”
Tokura said the upe hat was used by boys after going through the traditional manhood initial ceremony in the Aita area of Wakunai.

“That’s why it was a sensitive issue for the hat to be commercialised in such manner,” he said.

“We are now investigating who instigated the looting. We are also investigating where the clothing items were printed and shipped to Buka.”

Tokura also called on Government agencies to monitor business activities of foreign investors and advise them against the commercialisation of sacred items.

“Such looting would not have occurred if Government officers in relevant agencies had stopped the shopowners from selling clothing items with upe hats printed on them,” he said.

The Natinal PNG – THE financial position of Ok Tedi Mining Limited has strengthened, generating more than K777 million of net investment activities allowing it to have nearly K380 million to be distributed to its shareholders.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, tabling the annual reports and financial statements in parliament, said Ok Tedi had done exceptionally well.

“The balance has to be retained so that Ok Tedi continues to have good working capitals and provide self-funded growth capital requirements for 2018 and beyond.

“In 2017, OTML generated a profit of K848 million – which is 120 per cent higher than in 2016 where we had a net profit of K384 million.

“That came about as a result of a revenue increase. The revenue for the mine was K3.3 billion which was up by 57 per cent from 2016.”

O’Neill said copper prices were up by 18 per cent while gold was relatively flat. The balance was that the underlying production of both copper and gold was up by 35 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
“Also globally, we had an independent audit done by a global leader in the mining industry called Wood Mackenzie which assesses the mine’s ability to operate profitably.

“OTML was in 2013 ranked 99 in the world against all the global mining companies. But in 2017, we were able to improve our position to the 12th most competitive mine in the world.”
O’Neill said Ok Tedi had paid

K31 million in stamp duties to the Internal Revenue Commission on behalf of the landowners and the provincial government.

Wale says foreigners taking over businesses from locals

Aoke Langalanga MP Matthew Wale
Aoke Langalanga MP Matthew Wale

SolomonStarNews – FOREIGNERS are taking over businesses reserved for locals.

And the trend is going from bad to worse.

That’s according to Aoke Langalanga MP Matthew Wale when speaking in parliament recently.

“The issue of foreigners taking over businesses in the country is going out of control and the government has allowed this to happen,” Mr Wale said.

He added that foreigners operate buses, taxi and small shops into the outskirts of Honiara.

These are reserved.

The government must have been sleeping on the wheel, adding the state terribly fails to reign in on the issue.

“Where is the government now?

“Where is the government for the indigenous people of this beloved country?

“Are you sleeping?”

He said that this is not an argument against foreigners, but an argument for the rightful place for businesses for locals.

Mr Wale said that the situation has gone from bad to worse over the last seven years.

By LESLEY SANGA

Fighting For Justice for Small Farmers in Vanuatu

Madame Claire with supporters at Banban.
Madame Claire with supporters at Banban.

The Vanuatu Coconut Project (VCP) promised major improvements for the lifestyle of small-scale or ‘grass roots’ coconut farmers in Vanuatu.

The funds for this Project were sourced from the European Commission through former Ambassador to Brussels, Roy Mickey Joy.

According to an article published by Daily Post on the 7th of October 2014, the release of the first installment towards the Vt2.5billion Santo-based project was to be finalized within weeks of that article.

To date, none of those funds have been released.

This delay has had escalating impacts on communities, businesses and lives of families that have invested time and resources while patiently waiting for the VCP to be implemented.

For one of these investors, Madame Claire Lei Tapangaliu Dornic, owner of C.L Agencies, the delay has culminated in an eviction notice served on Monday this week, for her to vacate her property by Friday April 13.

Speaking to Daily Post at her property in Banban, Madame Claire shared, “I want, through Daily Post, to stand up for these farmers and families, who have sacrificed long and hard for this project.

“First of all, everyone must know that the Vanuatu Coconut Project is a national project, owned by the coconut farmers from Torba to Tafea. I don’t own it.

“My role was to provide knowledge, experience, a processing facility and networks for accessing International Markets.

“So, if this project is not given a chance to start and grow, all small hold coconut farmers will not receive the value from their crops that they deserve.

“This eviction notice is a direct result of the delay in funds.

“Believing that the funds would soon be released, i took a loan from Bred Bank to finance the repair of the buildings in preparation for the project.

“The delay in the promised funds has made it impossible to have a fully functioning processing plant which would generate income to help repay the loan.

“Since 2013, i decided to use my own funds to help these families who have worked hard and made large sacrifices for the Project to be successful.

“I’ve paid their food, small allowances in the weekend, cultural obligations for weddings or funerals and school fees because I am a community minded person.

“In June of 2016, two weeks before the funds were finalized for release, the government lost confidence in my ability to deliver because of a claim made by the Pacific Advisory Group in Vila, that I was bankrupt.

“I am still fighting a defamation case against them,” she alleged.

“Bred Bank, which is a business, has decided after many years, not to continue waiting for the promised funds and are selling my property at below the market rate.

“Although I have made arrangements with an investor from USA, willing to continue helping our farmers to market their products, Bred Bank have refused to consider our proposal,” she said.

The investor alleged the bank has gone to another investor.

“I just want Bred Bank to renegotiate with us and really listen to our case. These are people’s lives at stake. Most of these loyal people on my property are widows and children who will stand to lose much if the wrong investor buys this property.”

Flanked with two men of God, Pr John Weimani, a pastor from Christian Revival Centre and Reverend Albert Yakis, as well as the Banban customary Landowner Chief James Turavarc from Tutuba and the support of her loyal staff from the Banban community, Madame Claire believes that she has God, custom and community on her side. Madame Claire is adamant that she will continue to fight until justice is served for the Coconut Farmers she represents throughout Vanuatu.

VCP’s vision was to help educate and resource local farmers to generate a higher income through Integrated Coconut Processing – the usage of the whole coconut. In addition, VCP would help the farmers to produce top premium copra for export, resulting in much better income for our ‘grass roots’ Coconut farmers.

Mrs Dornic, who has invested 30 years here in Vanuatu to develop the Coconut Industry, finished her defense with a bold statement, “I will passionately work with investors who are willing to change the image of the Copra Industry in Vanuatu, from one being associated with poverty into that of a beautiful sophisticated lady.”

UNCTAD facilitates consultation on eTrade

The Vanuatu Daily Post – A week-long consultation on eTrade conducted by Sven Callebaut, from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and Fred Samuel, the local contractor.

UNCTAD Consultant Sven Callebaut, National Consultant Fred Samuel, and Senior Officials from MTTCNVB
UNCTAD Consultant Sven Callebaut, National Consultant Fred Samuel, and Senior Officials from MTTCNVB

eTrade is defined as “…the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing of orders”, was held at the Department of Trade and Industry Conference Room last week.

UNCTAD, with the support of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), were here to do a readiness study for Vanuatu, looking at how ready and willing the country is to embrace eTrade. The week was run in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Commerce, and Ni-Vanuatu Business, and consisted of a number of workshops and other consultations with key stakeholders. More information on the UNCTAD programme can be found at www.etradeforall.org.uk

Acting Director General MTTCNVB, George Borugu said, “eTrade is becoming ever more important in the global economy, and it is crucial for developing countries that they are not left behind. The work done by UNCTAD is an important first step, but there is still much work which needs to be done. I call upon all stakeholders to work together to help Vanuatu develop and grow. I would like to thank everyone who attended the workshops, and in particular to the EIF and UNCTAD for their support.”

If anyone would like to contribute to the surveys, they are still open, and can be found at:

Public sector: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/eTrade_Vanuatu_PublicSector

 The Trade Development Division would also like to inform the public that the first National Trade Development Meeting will be held at Melanesian Hotel on April 11, beginning at 8.30am.
Launching Tafea Cooperative Guest House

The Vanuatu Daily Post – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Cooperatives, Joe Natuman and Australian High Commissioner, Jenny Da Rin, jointly launched an impressive fully furnished new concrete building with three additional bedrooms at a cost of Vt1.3 million, to bring the total number of bedrooms of Tafea Guest House in Port Vila to 18 last Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Australian High Commissioner confirm partnership with handshake
Deputy Prime Minister and Australian High Commissioner confirm partnership with handshake

High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin said, “Just over three years since Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu and I was in Canberra working on Vanuatu and I was one of the people who negotiated the recovery package for Vanuatu. “It’s been very satisfying for me to be able to come here and see the project we talked about with the Government actually being built.

“Last year and this year we are seeing fantastic progress in the rebuilding of important public buildings and businesses around the country that were damaged by cyclone Pam. And we hope that by the end of this year we will largely have completed that work. That will include 19 cooperative buildings with Vt20 million allocated to that including Vt1.3 million that has been spent on this building here”.

The High Commissioner agreed with the Director of Cooperatives. Ridley Joseph, that the project is a partnership between the Governments of Vanuatu and Australia. “We allocated the funding but that funding went through Government systems that made decisions on how it was spent”, she said.

She said using local contractors enabled the funding to provide businesses and jobs and for locals and enabled money to filter through to local communities and individual households.

“For us it is not just about the building, the building is a wonderful thing but what I and my colleagues are most proud of is that it made a significant development impact as well and that’s what this partnership is all about”, she added.

She also commented on the Director’s remarks concerning “supporting business” saying business is the driver of the economy and without business, the economy will not grow. “Cooperatives play a really important part in that. So to have aspects like this building and generate an income for the cooperatives is very important and this is what this new building will do. It will allow a resource for the community but it will also generate an income for the cooperative which is a small business”, she said.

“And we are very proud to have supported bungalows to reestablish themselves and we are proud to have funded tourism businesses to bring the tourists back so these are all very important for the economy of Vanuatu”.

In his remarks the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Coopratives said he has not forgotten March 13 2015, when he received a phone call from then Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbot who assured him that Canberra was ready to work with Vanuatu to rebuild the country. He also received a similar assurance from the New Zealand Prime Minister in Wellington. He thanked both countries for their reconstruction efforts.

He said when Prime Minister Charlot Salwai took office, he announced three priorities which were neglected by previous governments.

• To rebuild facilities which were destroyed by the cyclone including cooperatives.

• To rebuild Bauerfield to allow international flights to land as Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue both suspended their flights.

• To work to assure OECD to remove Vanuatu from the “grey list”. It is important that the country is moved away from there to avoid being black-listed.

Director of Cooperatives Ridley Joseph thanked the Government through the Ministry of Cooperatives and the Australian Government through High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin, for the joint partnership which resulted in the new concrete building.

He also thanked Governance for Growth Director Clinton “for making this a reality”.

While cooperatives come at the bottom of the list for implementation of recovery funds, the Director said good things come with time and in time.

Tafea Guest House and Malampa Guest House are believed to be the only guest houses that are open today.