Cover story

March 2015

Economy hit by taxman, depres sed markets, weaker Vatu

Tony Wilson

IN addition to taxation issues for local breweries, there is also growing concern among Vanuatu businesses about the impact of the country’s Industrial Development Act, which came into force last year. The Act covers almost 50 local manufacturers and is meant to ‘facilitate and support the growth of sustainable and ...

High taxes force brewery relocation

Tony Wilson

ICONIC Vanuatu national brewer, Tusker, and a second brewery are threatening to relocate offshore because of what they say are crippling government taxes. The threats have added to a feeling of economic doom and gloom following the announcement that the Westpac Bank will cease to operate in Vanuatu by the ...

February 2015

Westpac says jobs for Pacific employees secure

Samisoni Pareti

WESTPAC Pacific has confirmed that job security for its 330 Pacific Island employees are secure following confirmation late last month that Bank South Pacific of Papua New Guinea is buying five out of the seven banks it operate in the Pacific Islands. Westpac however does admit that while employment of ...

PNG BANK HUNGRY FOR REGIONAL MARKET

Rowan Callick*

THE Port Moresby-based Bank of South Pacific, which bought Westpac’s banking operations in five island countries in late January for A$125 million, is still hungry for more acquisitions. Its board views South-East Asia - with which PNG, as a major gas, minerals and tree crop exporting economy, has increasing synergies ...

January 2015

Tears flow freely for lost freedom

Netani Rika

AS the strains of the banned anthem Oh, My Land Papua faded away and tears streamed down the cheeks of the members of the Papuan delegation at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly, the audience was left emotionally drained. The reality had finally dawned. Here stood a people, strangers ...

Betrayal of the highest order

ON December 1 1961, Dutch troops lowered the Netherlands flag for the last time over its New Guinea territories. As the flag descended from poles across the territory, a new standard rose in its place – the Morning Star of the independent nation of West Papua. That independence would be ...

Silent genocide unfolds in Papua

Netani Rika

IN a neglected region of the Pacific, the world’s latest genocide takes place with an indigenous people being killed and replaced every day of the year. Earlier this month, five Papuans were arbitrarily shot and killed by Indonesian troops in what was – at the time of printing – the ...

INDONESIA PUTS PRESSURE ON VANUATU

Netani Rika*

INDONESIA attempted to derail unification talks between West Papuan dissident groups by forcing hosts Vanuatu into a diplomatic impasse. But instead of bowing to pressure, Prime Minister Joe Natuman led a crowd of ni-Vanuatu on a march through the capital Port Vila in support of self-determination in West Papua. A ...

December 2014

Poet slams crisis into UN

Giff Johnson

It was no surprise to friends of Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner when her delivery of a poem about the looming climate crisis sparked a standing ovation from heads of state at the United Nations General Assembly hall in September. That four-minute oratory titled “Dear Matafele Peinam” — a poem to ...

Model charity saves lives

Tony Wilson

Ory Covo’s story is only one of dozens of people whose lives have been literally saved by the professionalism and dedication of the ProMedical paramedics and support staff. Out on his bike on a road outside Port Vila on November 29, 2013, Ory was badly injured when his bike collided ...

New kid on the block leads the way

Netani Rika

As the year draws to an end, Pacific leaders will look to the success of regional détente with some satisfaction. Kiribati and the Marshall Islands have drawn global attention to climate change and rising sea levels, Papua New Guinea and Nauru have become major players in the processing of asylum ...

Bainimarama – IB’s Pacific Person of the Year

Netani Rika

Some 2000 years ago the world lay at the feet of the Roman dictator Augustus. That is of course, the world as it was known to Rome at the time. With the battle of Actium ended, his cruelties became more judicious and he turned down honours with modesty while dedicating ...

November 2014

Disasters do happen, but are Pacific countries pointed in the right direction?

Dennis Rounds

Geographically, the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) fall within one of the most disaster-prone regions on earth. And the region’s combined population of almost 10 million people is vulnerable to natural hazards which include floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. While most PICs depend largely on development relief ...

October 2014

Bainimarama offers more of the same

Netani Rika

If the people of Fiji had expected a smooth, less confrontational political life after the September elections, they will be disappointed. One day after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama was at his vitriolic best, heaping scorn on political rivals and mounting a scathing attack on the Methodist ...

Bainimarama storms home with massive victory

Dennis Rounds

Voting in Fiji’s 2014 General Election signaled overwhelming public support for incumbent Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and gave legitimacy to his unelected rule over the last eight years and unprecedented endorsement to the future “roadmap” he has laid out for the country.

September 2014

Leadership choice crucial to Fiji poll result

Dennis Rounds

Fiji’s September 17 General Election will be decided primarily on the quality of political leadership on offer rather than on political platforms and manifestos. Media-driven interviews and general political coverage of the election campaigns has focused largely on the leadership qualities of party stewards and only sparsely on the actual ...

Thirty nine years of independent Papua New Guinea

Rowan Callick

Thirty nine years this month a proud independent nation, Papua New Guinea is starting at last to box its weight as a real regional force as well. At last month’s Pacific Islands Forum summit in Palau, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill highlighted that his country had committed almost 300 million kina ...

Clearer skies ahead for economy

With its high dependency on tourism and agriculture, the Samoan economy is severely affected by natural disasters. In December 2012, Tropical Cyclone Evan is estimated to have caused damage of more than S$400 million (US$170m), according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, destroying tourism infrastructure and farmlands. The effect on ...

Samoa rolls out red carpet to the world

Dev Nadkarni

It’s Samoa’s biggest moment on the global stage. The third United Nations Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Conference that gets under way on September 1 is the largest international event not just the tiny country but the entire Pacific Islands region has ever hosted. More than 3000 delegates from nearly ...

August 2014

Tokelau’s energy options

Samisoni Pareti

With almost all their electricity supply sourced from the sun, the 1,400 islanders of Tokelau are a living testament to what the German-born but English economist the late E F Schumacher advocated in his book ‘Small is Beautiful’ in 1973. Dumping finite fossil fuel for solar energy is saving the ...

July 2014

Multi-million dollar Fiji airport upgrade

Samisoni Pareti

Nadi International Airport will receive a massive $102 million facelift to give it an attractive and modern look as part of plans to create a striking impression of the South Pacific’s most integral airport.

Palau – where size doesn’t matter

Samisoni Pareti

Not counting the 400 or so volcano-uplifted little limestone islands that make up the spectacular Rock Islands, Palau is small. With a population of 21,000 living in the islands’ 16 states, the island republic does live up to the Greek meaning of the name of the cultural grouping it belongs ...

June 2014

The rush to Fiji’s elections

Robert Matau

By first June, the countdown clock on the Fijian Election Office’s official website would read 107 days to poll day. That website www.fijielections.gov.fj actually breaks it down to number of hours, minutes and seconds to 17 September, which has been officially declared a public holiday to allow Fiji’s 550,262 registered ...

Andre Dang

At his office in Noumea and on a trip to the Vavouto smelter, Andre Dang spoke to Nic Maclellan about the origins of SMSP, negotiations with corporate partners, his ongoing battles with ERAMET and his vision for local control of the nickel industry. Excerpts from the interview:

Mr. Nickel

Nic Maclellan

It’s just days before New Caledonia’s elections and Andre Dang is angry. The conservative majority in the Southern Province Assembly has allocated exploration rights for two major nickel deposits at Prony and Pernod. The President and CEO of the Société Minière du Sud Pacifique (SMSP) is not impressed that two ...