NZ must help Solomon Islands tackle unemployment ‘time bomb’, says Clark

Former PM Helen Clark at the National Council of Women conference yesterday … New Zealand should rethink its aid structure. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Jessica Marshall in Auckland

The Solomon Islands faces a “time bomb” with a youth unemployment rate of 82 percent and New Zealand needs to do more to help the Pacific country, says former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Youth unemployment is “one of the huge challenges of our time”, she says.

“They’ve all got ideas, they want to do things, and . . . I really urge our aid programme to focus back on some of these basics again,” she told the annual conference of the National Council of Women (NCW) in Auckland yesterday.

READ MORE: Violence against women is a national crisis: Clark

Clark, former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is the new patron of NCW and is the author of a new book launched this weekend, Women, Equality, Power.

She said the New Zealand government needed to rethink how its aid programme was structured.


“A country like the Solomon Islands could have a future but it needs investment in its agriculture.”

She said New Zealand used to invest its aid programme – in places like Thailand, for example – in the country’s agriculture.

“How much focus have we got on agriculture now?” she asked.

‘No brainer’
“It’s just a no brainer to try to support people back into the value chain.”

She made the call during a discussion on the UN Sustainable Development Goals which Clark was instrumental in developing during her time with UNDP.

Dr Gill Greer, chief executive of NCW, said that the inclusive manner in which Clark went about developing the goals was “not typical of the UN at many times”.

“It was a vision, it is a vision,” said Dr Greer, adding that the goals did not go far enough on the issue of gender.

“The living framework has one indicator, and that is all, and in this room [of 200 people] just think of how many we could suggest immediately?”

Clark replied: “Gender is in every goal”.

Clark also discussed the issue of migrants in Nauru, proclaiming it to be a crisis.

“There is something fundamentally wrong, this is not a sustainable situation and it’s no way to treat people.”

Earlier yesterday, the BBC reported that children had been attempting suicide and self-harm on the island.

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit opens in Nauru tomorrow.

Jessica Marshall is a student journalist on AUT’s Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) course.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Vanuatu government hopes new laws will save it on global finance ‘grey list’

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Vanuatu government hopes new laws will save it on global finance ‘grey list’

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Will legislation passed last year be sufficient to remove Vanuatu’s financial sector from international grey listing? Image: Vanuatu Daily Digest

By Bob Makin in Port Vila

The Vanuatu government’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Committee is confident that the submission of some 31 Bills to Parliament last year should improve Vanuatu’s position on the international reviewers’ “grey list”.

Some three major review groups are involved. The legislative requirements were made on time.

Vanuatu was congratulated by the international examiners during a recent review of Vanuatu’s progress, the Daily Post reports.

The government intends to introduce a Transport Infrastructure Maintenance Fund, reports Radio Vanuatu. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities has been meeting with stakeholders in the transport industry from the road, maritime and aviation sectors. The roles and objectives of the fund have been explained to the stakeholders, but not, it would seem, with the media.

The question raised in yesterday’s Daily Post about who is funding the planned luxury Bauerfield air terminal seems to be answered. The MG Group Hotel project from Hong Kong, involved with government and CCECC in airport discussions and agreements, is the backer. And this despite their plans to steal the view of a Ni-Vanuatu hotelier with a magnificent 3-storey view on a hilltop overlooking Daily Post.

MG’s harbour views will block those of Vila Rose Hotel just as it is starting in business.

Japanese tourists will begin arriving in Port Vila in April, on flights from Tokyo’s Narita airport via Port Moresby, PNG. Air Niugini is arranging the flights. A special night trip to Tanna has sold out already.

Mismanagement claimed
Radio Vanuatu reports the Opposition is claiming mismanagement of the Seaside Sanitation Project to assist the Seaside Paama, Tongoa and Futuna communities. The Opposition claims it has received many complaints concerning the quality of the local work. MIPU has dismissed all of the allegations saying the tender is being properly managed. A supervisory committee continues at work.

The Agriculture Department will be offering planting material, especially many varieties of manioc and kumala, tomorrow at Tagabe Ag Station in an effort to improve access to local and more nutritious  kaikai. Farmers and the general public will be able to meet together and discuss garden issues along with food production and security. There is a day-long programme starting at 7:30am.

The Media Association of Vanuatu is planning to become a full member of the International Federation of Journalists. Until now MAV has only been an associate member.

Re-elected MAV president Evelyne Toa saw the move as able to assist local journalists as regards their rights and freedoms.

Bob Makin writes for the Vanuatu Daily Digest

Tess Newton Cain: We need a new law about kava … or do we?

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tess Newton Cain: We need a new law about kava … or do we?

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Kava Act 2015 amendment … “In most cases we don’t need a new law or new powers; what we need is to enforce the ones we already have.” Image: SBS

OPINION: By Tess Newton Cain in Port Vila

There have been a couple of stories recently in Vanuatu about kava exports and one of the questions that comes up is monitoring exports to make sure that the material that is leaving the country is of the right standard. The following extract from one such story stood up and waved a big red flag in my face:

“While the existing law already provides us with legal power, we need the extra legal backing to put stricter control measures against farmers and exporters and other people for that matter, in particular owners of kava bars who sell ‘makas’ to the exporters.”

This is a quote from the Director of Biosecurity and the “extra legal backing” he is talking about is a 2015 amendment to the Kava Act that has yet to be gazetted. I have no doubt that the amendments to the Kava Act are relevant and important, especially in light of renewed interest in the product overseas.

What I am concerned about is referring to a delay in the availability of new powers as some sort of excuse for enforcing ones that already exist.

I am a lawyer by training and so people often look quite surprised when I answer the question “do you think we need a law to deal with that?” with something along the lines of “probably not”.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely areas of the law that need to be revised, to make them more appropriate to modern day circumstances. But in most cases we don’t need a new law or new powers; what we need is to enforce the ones we already have.

It’s quite simple: if you do not have enforcement, you will not develop a culture of compliance. Sure, some people will comply with the law because that is their nature, or it reflects how they have been brought up and educated.

Complying with laws
Some people will take care to comply with laws because if they don’t they may be deported.

But for most of us, knowing that those with power (police officers, customs officials, biosecurity staff etc.) will exercise it and if they do, it will likely result in something we won’t like, is a key driver of making sure we are doing the right thing.

Law enforcement serves several purposes, one of which is deterrence. Enforcement by those in authority deters people from breaking the law. Making enforcement visible is one of the best forms of “awareness raising” there is.

The French have a term for it “pour encourager les autres” – when people around me see the law enforced against me, they check their own behaviour to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to them.

A particular subset of this topic is around collection of fees, taxes or fines. If a state authority, such as a ministry, is putting forward increasing a fee or a tax, we need to look beyond the headline. If enforcement is weak, an increase of this type means that those of us who comply with the law are being penalised and are in effect subsidising those who don’t pay and are not made to do so by those in authority.

Again, if you want a culture of compliance you need to develop a culture of enforcement.

In late 2015, we saw the successful prosecution of 15 MPs for bribery and they were subsequently found guilty of breaching the Leadership Code. It was a landmark for good governance in Vanuatu, and throughout the region.

Enforcement needed
It did not require the creation of any new laws. What it took was for all the relevant players (police, prosecutors, courts) to enforce laws that have been around for quite some time.

Over the last few years, we have seen the amount of VAT collected rise significantly. That is not because the law has been changed, but because the VAT Office has worked to improve its enforcement procedures. They are now looking to do something similar in relation to collection of import duties. The law hasn’t changed, the culture of the organisation has.

So, next time you hear someone such as a politician or a bureaucrat or (my particular favourite) a “technical adviser” say that what is needed is a new law or a new power or an increase in a fee or penalty, it should prompt you to ask some questions.

What laws or powers already exist to deal with this issue? Are they enforced properly? Will these new measures be any use if no one enforces them? And maybe if you start asking these questions, others will be encouraged to do so as well.

Tess Newton Cain, is the principal of TNC Pacific Consulting. This commentary was first published in the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Santo kava farmers fear ‘silent killer’ investor threat to their production

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Santo kava farmers fear ‘silent killer’ investor threat to their production

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By Glenda Willie in Port Vila

Vanuatu kava farmers on Espiritu Santo have expressed great fear of losing their production businesses in the wake of reports alleging that investors will be engaging in mass kava production on their land.

In a press statement, the kava farmers and suppliers said if the investors engaged in kava production on a larger commercial scale, they would outnumber the hard-working local farmers and dominate kava outlets with their production.

Describing this as a “silent killer” for their small-scale kava businesses, the concerned farmers called on the government through the minister responsible for labour to reconsider the working permits for those investors.

The local farmers are worried that their years of hard work would be in vain if this issue is not addressed immediately.

They claim that they will not be able to compete with the investors in terms of kava quantity.

“Kava is considered a traditional drink therefore the government should consider this as a priority to assist the farmers to protect the value of kava before they fall into the hands of investors,” they said.

The kava farmers said they would do their best to protect and defend their kava businesses as most of them rely on their businesses to sustain their livelihood.

Glenda Willie is a Vanuatu Daily Post reporter.