Behind the News
In three months, Vanuatu will celebrate its 31st Year of Independence... 31 years of maturity... an occasion for each and all of us to be able to think or rethink of how Vanuatu has grown since July 30, 1980.
As Vanuatu is growing, people are witnessing and experiencing more challenges than before and those challenges will either benefit or destroy someone's life, communities or this nation as a whole.
However a question that each one should ask him/herself is 'Vanuatu I stap go wea? Or where is Vanuatu going?
In 16 months, Vanuatu will go for another poll, with the next general elections in September 2012 for eligible Vanuatu voters to be able to elect their parliamentary representatives.
In the capital Port Vila and the northern town of Luganville we have witnessed cases of murder/manslaughter, frequent break-ins and thefts, corruption in various forms and the excessive use and or consumption of substances, especially kava and marijuana by youngsters, and not the least motions of no confidence… motion after motion, that have wasted a great deal of taxpayers' money.
As the Holy Scripture stated: “the blind cannot lead the blind”... In politics, in the church, in the communities, in the homes, everywhere, these incorruptible words will always be there to remind and to lead us if we allow it to fulfill its purposes in our lives.
Apart from what has happened in the past, Vanuatu and its people have, in the first three months of this new year, faced several controversial and/or conflicting national issues. These lead us to question the leadership role of some of Vanuatu's national leaders, including ministers, MPs, Government directors and or director generals.
In one of the most embarrassing issues in recent months relating to Health's shortage of medicine, it is an ongoing issue yet to be resolved between the Minister of Health and the minister's Director General.
Then there is the issue of a large amount of ammunition and firearms destined the hands of our leader, ministers signing letters with wrong letterheads permitting several prohibited items in and or into Vanuatu...... which might ended up to court.
Another simmering issue involves the Northern Islands Stevedoring Company (NISCOL) between the government and the NISCOL management, which may also have a sequel in court.
Then the current issue of the two Solomon Islands vessels, MV Kaona and MV Christie, with the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) expressing its dissappointment over the operation of these two foreign vessels in Vanuatu.
Its Executive Officer, Smith Tebu explained in an interview with The Independent that the issue was that the alleged owner of the ships, Carl Warren Beldon has submitted an application to VIPA requesting approval for investing in the country. Having processed its application, “...we have also learnt that the proposed owner of the two vessels have some issues over the ownership of the two ships. The vessels were brought into the country without observing proper procedures and formalities under the laws of Vanuatu.”
Mr Tebu emphasised that although there was an alleged agreement made at the ministerial level, VIPA Laws must be respected. He added “while the VIPA and the relevant authorities are still trying to sort out the issues of the ownership of the two vessels, we are being surprised that the two ships have been reported selling and conducting inter-island shipping services without any formal permit neither a valid business license from the relevant governement institutions.
This is a direct breached of the VIPA Act No.15 of 1998 Section 5 (1) that clearly states that no foreign investor is allowed to conduct business in this country without first obtaining, the approval certificate of the VIPA Board. The two boats are currently operation in the Vanuatu waters without proper formal approval of the Vanuatu Government.”
Mr Tebu said though the alleged owner claimed to have the two vessels under the lease arrangement with some local ni-Vanuatu businessmen, this information was not disclosed to VIPA, therefore we are of an opinion that this business is totally of foreign owned business and should comply with the laws of Vanuatu by registering with the local authorities before conducting its business in Vanuatu.
He said that the VIPA is working with the authorities to ensure that the potential investor is being dealt with according to the relevant laws.
A source close to the two vessels claimed that they have followed every legal procedures, and that Beldon is not owning the two vessels, as they were transferred to ni-Vanuatu businessmen. He declined to give further comments, but said that their case is currently with their lawyers.
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