MP-Moana-Carcasses-SponsorshipMake no mistake about it – the new government has been handed a HUGE mess, a mess created by previous administrations. Nepotism, cronyism, stupidity, ignorance, theft and outright fraud have all taken their toll on the economy and the social fabric of Vanuatu society under these same administrations. In many, many instances it comes back to corruption – intentional raping of Vanuatu’s financial resources by those in positions of power in government and the public sector.

In fact, I believe strongly that the main reason for the fall of Sato Kilman’s government and their subsequent replacement by the team led by the new PM, Moana Carcasses, is the issue of corruption.

However, maybe now, for the first time ever in the history of Vanuatu, it can be said that a new government is there upon the back of its mandate to eliminate corruption. Emanating from this, of course, are two key questions – (a) Can they do it? and (b) Do they have the political will to do it?

So, let’s get back to the mess left for the new powers-that-be. Vanuatu is effectively bankrupt, in my view. The country is financially dependent upon the largesse of Aid donors. It has massive debts, very little export income and an enormous reliance on imported goods. The public service is overweight, no – obese with incompetent people, ineffectual systems and processes and a lack of work ethic. The public sector is waaaay too large and has a culture that encourages corruptive practices.

In an interview with MP Ralph Regenvanu, Radio NZ states “However, the new-look cabinet faces an unprecedented budget deficit, something the new Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu admits is a huge problem.” Hell yes!

In the same article, the new Finance Minister, Willie Jimmy is reported to state that “he will seek assurances from heads of all public departments that they can achieve their budget targets”.

Well, for the sake of the economic health of Vanuatu and the new government’s attempts to fix things, I truly hope that MP Jimmy has been misquoted.

We do NOT want or need assurances that they can achieve their already-established budgets because most, if not all the Departmental budgetary considerations are likely to be based on false premises anyway.

What we DO want and need is a more pragmatic approach. MP Ralph has already stated the need to cut costs and unnecessary spending….and he’s correct. Simultaneously, the government’s export income and statutory revenue collection processes need to be investigated and improved as well. By this, I’m certainly not advocating that the new government continues down the same path as previous governments in their efforts to “kill the golden goose” – a.k.a. the ex-pat driven business community.

Oh yeah – and please, get some co-operative efficiency into areas such as the Immigration Department – another hopelessly inefficient, poorly-managed public SERVICE (“service” – what’s that, the PIO said?) that needs a swift kick in the bum!

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