Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Vanuatu’s economy will not recover. It is in crisis mode.

faltering economyStrong words, I know but the reality is that Vanuatu is rapidly sinking into a financial abyss from which there is no palpable return in sight, UNLESS…..

There is a fundamental shift in a number of areas that affect the economy. They include:

  • The present mismanagement of the economy by the RBV (Reserve Bank of Vanuatu);
  • The Government’s political instability;
  • Corruption within the political, public service bureaucracy, police force and judiciary.

At first glance, this may appear to be an over-simplification of the problems that cause Vanuatu’s economy to be at the mercy of the rest of the world. Perhaps it is, however, please take a minute to consider the following…..

The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) commenced exactly seven years ago and it’s getting worse by the minute! Some pundits, especially those aligned with the banking sector, the politicians, the Central Banks and the “too-big-to-fail” corporations will have you believe that the GFC ended some time ago. What a load of clap-trap!

The Central Banks continue to print paper money as fast as they can crank up the presses with every new batch of paper that goes out to the market.

What is the natural offset to paper money….you know…the one that has been used by mankind for thousands of years? GOLD!

How many tonnes of gold does the RBV hold in its Reserves? NONE!

What are the two strongest currencies in the world today? The USD (United States Dollar) and China’s Remimbi/Yuan. The USD is presently considered to be the world’s Reserve Currency, a position held since the second world war when it took over from the British Pound Sterling after the introduction of the Bretton Woods System.

However, the Chinese Yuan is set to replace the USD as the official Reserve Currency and WHEN it happens, the value of the USD will depreciate markedly as will those currencies that are pegged to it. Here in Vanuatu, unless someone from the RBV can show otherwise, it appears that the Remimbi/Yuan plays no part in the RBV’s economic considerations. As with its attitude towards gold, the RBV’s overall economic policies appear to totally ignore the potential consequences of not including China’s currency in its “basket” of currencies in which it trades.

copra exports Export earnersTourism along with fishing, offshore financial service, growth export commodities such as copra and kava are essential to Vanuatu’s economic growth prospects. As it happens, the present “value” of the Vatu against other currencies is way too high. It is artificially inflated at unsustainable levels thereby having a disastrous effect upon export income.

UNLESS Vanuatu takes a leaf out of Fiji’s book of economics and devalues its currency, soon, then many more Vanuatu-based businesses will go under….bankrupted by the lack of willingness on the part of investors to place their funds in this country, by a continued fall in long-stay tourism (we can’t compete against countries such as Fiji, Bali and the S.E. Asian countries – Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand). My personal view is that an immediate devaluation of 15-25% of the Vatu against the world’s MAJOR currencies (USD, Euro, GBP, Remimbi and yes – the AUD) should be effected as soon as possible.

Oh, I can hear the cries now of “but food prices will go up too much” and “we rely on our imports” and “we won’t be able to afford to travel”. Such viewpoints are short-sighted and ill-informed within the context of what will make for a healthier economy for Vanuatu. Perhaps the Vanuatu Government/RBV should place more emphasis and focus on developing the traditional economy as well as taking the other measures already mentioned here.

The new coinage issue. Unnecessary and a total waste of money, money that I’m sure could haver been better used elsewhere.

By the way, it’s time the RBV stepped into the real world of the 21st century IT-wise. It’s web site is abysmal, severely lacking in any form of reliable, topical data and information. Time to get up to speed with the rest of the world, guys!

UNLESS Vanuatu’s political leaders have a change of attitude to their appointments, their infernal internal squabbling will continue to adversely affect the country’s finances.

Political upheaval and instability has cost the country dearly over the past two decades and particularly over the past five years. Every time there is another Motion of No Confidence put into play, it costs the country – big time. Instead of running the country as they are supposed to, too many MP’s spend their time running around shoring up their defences and/or soliciting help in overthrowing the government of the day so that they can dip their own snouts in the trough.

The amount of money lost when portfolios change I imagine to be huge. In most cases, the incoming Minister scraps any new initiatives made by his predecessor, whether warranted or otherwise. Political appointees are dismissed requiring them to be paid out and the list of unnecessary wastage goes on…….

The biggest of them all – CORRUPTION!

Corruption - The Silent Serial Killer

A lot of press coverage over the past few days has been given to the alleged corruptive practices of the 15 MP’s presently on trial for Bribery and breaches of the Leadership Code.

Let’s be serious folks – CORRUPTION is Public Enemy Number One when it comes to Vanuatu’s floundering economic health. It’s practised everywhere – by politicians and their advisors and appointees, by senior bureaucrats in the public service, by police and by members of the judiciary. In turn, the evil of corruption creates a level of gross incompetence within these same sectors. Too many “jobs for the boys” (cronyism); too much nepotism; too much fraud, bribery and theft; too many self-serving power plays and so on.

UNLESS the government gets serious about eradicating the problem of corruption, Vanuatu will continue to muddle around in the economic back-waters of the world.

What the Government MUST DO, NOT SHOULD DO, is to implement its commitment to UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption), a commitment that has been sitting in the waiting room for the past four years. It must legislate for the creation of an independent, government-funded anti-corruption agency….NOW! No ifs, buts or maybes – it must do it NOW! This would prove to be a huge step in the process of eliminating corruption in Vanuatu.

QUESTION: I wonder how many MP’s would be prepared to sign a Statutory Declaration in support of the policy formation and legislation for such an agency, especially if the same Statutory Declaration meant they had to commit themselves to resigning from office should they fail to support such an initiative? None? A handful?

I just hope that the present bribery case will prove to be the catalyst for a change in attitude by the relevant leaders of this country. The time is right. Is the political willpower there. We shall see.

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NOTHING

….. if they are following the example of these LEADERS – men who quite obviously believe in and practice the principles of transparency and accountability!GJP Release 2014 MP Spending Reports

If YOUR MP isn’t following their example then you must ask yourself – WHAT ARE THEY HIDING FROM YOU?

 

Coward Shame

In today’s local daily newspaper, the Daily Post, an ANONYMOUS person from Minister of Tourism, Commerce, Trades and Ni Vanuatu Business had the cheek to call the author of a ‘Letter to the Editor’ a COWARD.

The following response to this apalling turn of events was very well summed up in a post response this morning on Vanuatu’s largest social media site, Yumi Toktok Stret, by a local investor and businessman…. “Who wrote the letter to the DP today that came from the Dept. of Industry and Commerce? It was in response to a letter on Wednesday from an “investor” that said that due to the act a large sandalwood project was no longer going ahead. The letter today from the Dept. of Industry and Commerce called this “investor” a “coward” for not putting their name to the letter, yet the letter was only signed off on by The Dept. of Industry and Commerce with no name attached. If you are gong to call someone a coward for not putting their name to a letter then it stands to reason that you are also one if you didn’t put your name on the response letter and are effectively hiding behind a Govt. Dept.” The article in which the long-term investor was referred to as a coward was also full of rhetoric about the purported benefits of the Industrial Development Act with heavy emphasis on “a policy regime to discourage live cattle exports”. Additionally, the Ministry’s ANONYMOUS WRITER went to great lengths to try and justify the introduction of the Act. Well try and justify away my friend because as far as Vanuatu businesses are concerned, this Act is a joke – or at least it would be were it not for the fact that its mere existence stands to threaten the livelihood af many already-struggling families and businesses. You can read more about how the iniquitous Act came into being at Vanuatu Spy Tells All. Respect - You Have to Earn It!It’s high time that more Government Ministers, politicians and public servants learned to RESPECT their employers – the Citizens of Vanuatu. As a side note, the Ministry from which today’s COWARDLY letter came, has as its Minister the same person who, without proper consultation with the public, back door-entered Vanuatu into the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2011. Didn’t have the respect for the people nor the guts to try and get approval of the general populace first and when asked at the time by the media (17/8/2011 – Radio Australia Pacific News/PACNEWS) what benefits were to be had by Vanuatu in its proposed assecion to the WTO, he failed dismally in his responses. One does wonder therefore at what hidden agendas may have been held by the Minister concerned at the time? Hiding behind Mama Government's SkirtsBOTTOM LINE, Mr. ANONYMOUS WRITER, time for you to stop hiding behind Mama Government’s skirts. Reveal yourself or remain a COWARD! Over to you, whoever you are…….

Vanuatu Spy Tells All

The transcript of a secret recording of a recent meeting held behind closed doors within the halls of power has come into our possession.

We cannot reveal the details of our source but we have absolutely no doubt as to its authenticity. The recording has been vetted and analysed in high-security laboratories using the latest spy-ware technology including V.O.I.C.E technology (Vocal Origin Identification Cryptology Enhancement). Accordingly, the meeting’s members have been clearly identified and subsequently exposed here and now for their duplicity in a plot to crash the economy of a sovereign nation – Vanuatu. You will be shocked no doubt at the sheer audacity of these people as they scheme and plan what could prove to be the downfall of this small nation’s aspirations in becoming an economically self-sufficient entity on the world stage, free from the “big brothers” who would otherwise have them enslaved for all time. Here is the transcript of that meeting:

IAMA MORON: “Gentlemen, this meeting has been called to address a very serious situation within our local economy. Our research shows that too many businesses and individuals in Vanuatu are profitable or on the verge of being so and subsequently reducing the dependence of the nation on hand-outs from this country’s Aid Donors”.

HEESA MORON: “Hear, hear!”

IAMA MORON: “What is most disturbing about this development is that it stands to limit our own capacity to dip into this free pot of gold which means all of us here today stand to lose opportunities to increase our own personal wealth!”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

WOTTA MORON: “That’s outrageous! I’m planning to buy each of my kids a brand new Hilux in the New Year and what about my trip to Switzerland to meet with my bankers? We have to put a stop to this – now!”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

EMPEE MORON: “Gentlemen, gentlemen. Don’t worry. I think I have the perfect solution to this vexing issue that faces us. After all, remember why you rigged the ballots in the first place – so that I could help look after you, my friends. By the way, a big “Thank you” to you all for making sure that I got the land I desperately needed for my holiday home on Santo even though at four hectares it’s a bit smaller than what I wanted”

EESA MORON: “You’re welcome, Empee”

IAMA MORON: “So what’s this cunning plan you’ve come up with, Empee?”

WOTTA MORON: “Yeah, what’s the plan, Big Man?”

EMPEE MORON: “Well, as you all know, my brother’s cousin, Al Waysa Moron, is the Minister for Industry. Oh yes, he also sends his regards to you all for crossing the floor with him so that he could get this particular portfolio when it looked like it would go to Agud Bloak”.

HEESA MORON: “He’s welcome!”

EMPEE MORON: “Thank you. Anyway, I have already spoken with Al Waysa and he agrees that we should do something to stop this situation before it gets out of hand. So, here’s what we do. We create a situation whereby as many businesses as possible have to get a Permit to operate. We then make the application process as difficult as possible – I’m thinking of an Application that will take a couple of days to prepare and run to say 14 pages or so. Each business is then obliged to collect their form from Al Waysa’s Department. What we’ll do is tell the businesses of our plans on the Monday before Christmas and require them to have everything in place by the day after New Year’s Day”.

WOTTA MORON: “Yes! So far so good but I feel that something’s missing here, like – how do we benefit from this?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!

EMPEE MORON: “Wait small – there’s more. We focus on the export companies and individuals by requiring them to pay Export Levies and we give my brother’s cousin the authority to charge these guys up to 40% – at his discretion. If they don’t like it, then too bad for them. If they don’t comply, we’ll fine them anything up to a million vatu and put them in jail for up to 12 months. See how they go trying to operate a business then! You can then lodge your own claims for a share of the levies via a Consultancy Fee from one of your family members’ Permit-exempt companies”.

HEESA MORON: “Hear, hear!”

IAMA MORON: “Not bad at all, Empee but I still think there’s something else we can do, don’t you?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

EMPEE MORON: “Here’s the cruncher. We set the rules for these businesses every year which is when they must renew their Permits. If they don’t comply, again – too bad as we’ll make sure that they have no right of appeal and if they make too much noise or trouble, we’ll fine their asses, put ’em in jail and close up their businesses. So my friends, what do you say?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

IAMA MORON: “Me too”

WOTTA MORON: “Me as well”

EMPEE MORON: “One final thing. We need a good, positive-sounding name for this process. I suggest we call it the “Industry Development Act“.

This is followed by hoots of laughter and a chorus of “I agree”, “Me too”, “Bravo”, “Well done” and finally – “Who’s up for a shell?”

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

 

This is a plea to the Hon. PM. Moana Carcassesfor the welfare of all who live in and/or love Vanuatu.

It is also a plea in the interests of:

  • Good Governance
  • Leadership Integrity
  • Transparency
  • Accountability and
  • Justice

Paul Telukluk - Minister of Internal AffairsI am referring to the easily-recognizable politically-expedient appointment of Paul Barthemely Telukluk as the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Please note that I have not and shall not refer to this person as Honourable as only persons deserving of this title should be referred to as such and humbly suggest that the following supports this…..

FACTS and BACKGROUND

As quoted by the Vanuatu Government website –

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs responsible for implementation of the major and most essential policies relating to the internal administration of the entire nation. This Ministry is a crucial department as it services the entire population starts from Torba in the far north to Tafea Province in the far south that needs to be implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Nine departments are under the authority of the Ministry in ensuring that the following policies are implemented in terms of decentralisation, internal security and border control management and the national services. The nine departments Corporate Services Division (CSD), Department of Local Authorities (DLA), National Disaster Management (NDMO), Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), Department of Immigration, Department of Labour and Employment Services (DoL), Electoral Office, Passport Office and Civil Status.

The Ministry is also responsible for some constitutional and statuary bodies like the Electoral Commission, Minimum Wages Board, Labour Advisory Board, National Housing Corporation, National Cultural, Provincial Councils and Municipal Councils.”

Bearing this in mind, it can be reasonably argued that this Ministry is THE most important in the land. And yet…….here’s just a little history and expose of the person now in charge of such an important post…….

“In the mid-1990s, Telukluk served as Minister for Lands in Prime Minister Maxime Carlot Korman‘s government. Later, he was investigated by the Ombudsman‘s office, which in 1999 published a report accusing him of having mismanaged the sale of deportees’ properties. The report recommended that Telukluk “should not be considered for a ministerial portfolio in any future Government” (Wikipedia);

“OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

PUBLIC REPORT ON THE GRANTING OF LEASES BY THE FORMER MINISTER OF LANDS MR PAUL BARTHELEMY TELUKLUK TO HIMSELF, FAMILY MEMBERS AND WANTOKS

PREAMBLE

This yet again we are confronted by evidence of leaders conspiring to defraud not only private individuals but the public by carefully plotting to increase their own personal wealth and assets by systematically pursuing dishonest courses of action and by misusing their public official positions to break the law, enrich themselves and to defraud others of their rights.

SUMMARY

Public Report is about how 15 land titles were improperly allocated by the Former Minister of Lands and now Minister of Ni-Vanuatu Business Mr. Paul Barthelemy Telukluk to himself, Members of his Family and wantoks (people of his island community). This report highlights the need for a proper policy governing the lease of Government Lands and Customary lands to ensure that they are done according to constitutional rights and Leadership Code obligations, and that actual market values are used.

The Ombudsman decided to investigate into this distribution of titles following several complaints lodged by members of the public. These complainants, having been allocated a block of land by the Department of Lands, had seen their land then given by Minister of Land Telukluk to members of his family or wantoks before the full process was finalised.

As Minister of Lands between 1992 and 1996, Mr. Telukluk had the legal power to sign land leases on behalf of the government, for public lands and lands under the management or control of the government. This also gave Mr. Telukluk the ultimate power to approve or determine the premium charged for leases.

During his term, Mr. Telukluk assigned 15 titles to himself, members of his family and wantoks.

The Ombudsman found that Mr. Telukluk’s conduct was unjust and contrary to Art. 5(1)(k) of the Constitution, because he gave himself and people close to him preferential treatment to obtain leases at cheap prices; other people of Vanuatu were not treated equally. With respect to 4 titles acquired for himself for free, the Ombudsman found this conduct to be misappropriation. The Ombudsman also found that Mr. Telukluk breached each and every section of the Leadership Code in the Constitution.

MR TELUKLUK’S USE OF HIS MINISTERIAL POWER TO GRANT LEASES TO HIMSELF, HIS FAMILY MEMBERS AND WANTOKS WAS ALSO CONTRARY TO ARTICLE 5 OF THE CONSTITUTION.

MR TELUKLUK BREACHED EACH AND EVERY SECTION OF THE LEADERSHIP CODE IN THE CONSTITUTION: CONFLICT OF INTEREST, UNFAIR EXERCISE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES, DEMEANING POSITION, LACK OF INTEGRITY, USE OF OFFICE FOR PERSONAL GAIN.” (www.paclii.org)

There are many, many more references to Paul Telukluk’s immoral and crooked dealings – way too many to cover here. And yet again….

He has now appointed a CONVICTED FRAUDSTER in the form of CLARENCE MARAE as his First Political Advisor (PA) and secondly, Wendy Myriam-Himford as another PA – a woman well-known as a religious zealot and self-appointed Apostle who once accused Hon. MP Ralph Regenvanu’s Graon Mo Jastis Pati as the “Satanik Pati”.

To all the Citizens and Residents of Vanuatu and those who have their cultural roots in this country – “Do you trust such a person to hold such an important position in the running of this wonderful nation?”

I certainly don’t and as such implore our Honourable Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, to do the right thing and change this situation – before it’s too late.

FOOTNOTE: Telukluk was a co-founder of the Green Federation in 2000.

Vanuatu Government

Vanuatu Government

Shefa Provincial CouncilPort Vila Municipal Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanuatu has been in a crisis for the past twenty years – a leadership crisis.

Respect - You Have to Earn It!The following just-published article by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy is worthy of some reflection on this issue.

“Vanuatu’s Leadership Struggle”

Whether you personally are motivated to do something, well…..that’s entirely up to you. I hope you are!

The following article was first published 25th August, 2012 with the heading – “RESPECT – A “Little” Victory Over a “Big Man” . I have decided to re-publish it here and now as memories are short, especially in the world of politics and the guts of the article I believe to be as relevant, if not even more so than when first published……..

VictoryOnce upon a time, there was a self-proclaimed “Big Man” who thought he could lord it over all and sundry – until he faced the power of some “little people”.

The little story I am about to tell you is “GOLD” and is the absolute truth……..and it’s about a “Big Man” getting his come-uppance………..at grass- roots level. It gave me the chuckles and I hope it does the same for you…..

There’s a little airport (Ulie) near a little place (Sameo) on a little island (Ambrym) in a little Archipelago of 83 islands called Vanuatu a few hours from places like Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.

In fact, this little place attracts tourists from all around the world. Why? Because it usually means the end of an adventure for those same tourists – walking across the island onto and in some cases, into, active volcanos (Marum and Benbow). That is one Hell of a walk/ journey. Even for the fittest, It is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging…..in a big way, so I am told.

A very recent article in “The Independent” quoted – “…the Minister of Education was stranded in the island of Embrym (their spelling mistake, not mine) because he has finished his travelling budget”.

Now let me tell you the truth…..

Earlier this week, a group of international tourists who had pre-booked their flight back to Port Vila Bauerfield Airport, were in the process of boarding when along came a “Big Man” – the Vanuatu Government Education Minister. He insisted that he and his entourage which, included two heavily bejewelled women, a couple of minders and two chickens (?), be given priority passenger rights ahead of the tourists. Apparently, offered up were such options as leaving some behind to catch a later plane or leaving the tourists’ luggage behind to compensate for the weight of the Minister and hangers-on. And then the fight started……….

The tourists (including people in their 60’s) rightfully insisted that they as they had pre-
booked their flight arrange- ments and the Minister only had an open ticket, they should have priority. The Minister thought otherwise and put all sorts of pressure on Air Vanuatu staff and others in an effort to get his way.

End result? The tourists had their way, the Air Vanuatu staff and others who stood up to the Minister’s unsavoury bullying tactics also had a moral victory and the foolish Minister lost…..got his come-uppance!

The moral to this little story is that this was a BIG win by grass-roots people and is a great example of how the “little” people can be BIG champions of decency, common courtesy and most of all – RESPECT.

As you all know, this is just one example of “Big Man” attitude that still prevails in this country as well as in my birthplace (OZ) and other countries.

Hopefully, some of the Vanuatu “Big Men” will read this, reason being that they may choose to follow a BIG piece of advice and go about learning the meaning of the word – “RESPECT” because they sure as hell give the impression that they sorely need some education on the subject.

RespectIf you aren’t a “Big Man”, then frankly, it’s up to you to ensure that they “get the message”, sooner rather than later. So what is “respect”? To quote Wikipedia (any highlights are mine)………

“Respect” gives a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, whereas actions that honour somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified……as one of five fundamental moral
values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals. In recent times, ‘respect’ has become synonymous with subordination, submission, or obedience”.

The antonym and opposite of respect is CONTEMPT.

Got that? Let’s return for a moment to the Minister of Chickens and others of his ilk, such as the Minister who thinks that he is so important and deserving of “respect” that, with total impunity, he can beat up people whose opinions he doesn’t like and threaten others with violence (such as throwing them out the window) and getting drunk and aggressive in public. Then of course there are the other Ministers who also love being passengers on the gravy train and who also show their outright CONTEMPT for the “little” people and DISRESPECT for the positions of authority that they hold by ripping off the system via providing “jobs for the boys”, dodgy (read – ‘dishonest’) land deals and so on it goes.

At the time that this goes to print, it will only be 66 days to 30th October.

Folks, I ask that you please remember the actions of the “Big Men” at election time. No matter where you live, get rid of any whose traits are to be disrespectful, contemptuous, self-serving, full-of-themselves antithesis of “servants of the people” – as soon as you can.

It’s not that hard! There are some truly honourable, decent men and women waiting in the wings, ready, willing and able to do their bit – for Vanuatu, not for what they can do for themselves in keeping their position at the trough. Pigs at the Trough

May I also humbly suggest that, when you get to cast your vote in a little over nine weeks’ time, you give serious attention to looking at the records of the established parties and their parliamentary representatives.

I have done just that and I must say that every one of them has “come up short”, for one reason or another. Every Party has had and in many instances, still has, people totally undeserving of the “little” peoples’ vote come October. I am referring to the constant “ship-jumpers” and those who speak with forked tongues – the crooks.

SOCIAL MEDIA is, I believe and hopefully not just wishful thinking on my part, likely to have a BIG effect in the forth- coming elections – here in Vanuatu, Australia and the US.

Political DinosaursThose “dinosaurs” who under- estimate its power are doomed to fail – to be replaced by more contemporary-thinking, well- educated, articulate and intelligent people.

It really pleases me to see the high level of activity on social media sites such as Facebook.

 

Youth Against Corruption VanuatuI say this because the posts on sites such as “YACV” (Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu), “YUMI TOKTOK STRET”, “ME HAREM SE ???”, “ELECTION SPOTLIGHT 2012” and “PACIFIC INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC POLICY” are great show-cases displaying the full depth of feeling on issues such as corruption and transparency. It’s terrific to see and be able to enjoy the repartee between serious participants, their impassioned arguments cum discussions about current affairs.

As a constant watcher and user of social media, it’s interesting to note that only one political Party has bothered to keep up with the times – the GRAON mo JASTIS PATI, headed up by the Hon. MP Ralph Regenvanu.

At this point, I need to make something perfectly clear before going any further. I am NOT, I repeat – NOT making a “political statement” NOR attempting to “influence politics” in this country NOR wishing to appear to be recommending any one Party versus another.

However, the very fact that the GJP has its own website is worth noting because as far as I am aware (and I am prepared to stand corrected!), it is the only Party that has one as pro- active, as informative and as transparent (there’s a first for Vanuatu for a start!). Good grief, they even publicize, on their front page, what activities they have been involved in and wait for it – how they have been spending their Ministerial Allocations (tax-payer monies)!

Come to think of it, I cannot recall seeing ANY other website
for any other Vanuatu-based political party! Sacre Bleu!

But “what the heck has this got to do with money?” you may well ask. Well, in a way, it has to do with RESPECT.

If we are to have true LEADERS, then we must ensure that those designate will need to show RESPECT for others, regardless of their social status, their race, their age, colour or religion.

They will need to show RESPECT for the opinions of others. They’ll also need to show that they have the ability AND desire to PRESERVE, PROTECT and RESPECT cultural “kastom”.

Such leaders would inevitably find themselves leading a nation of happy and “life-rich”, enterprising, healthy people.

When people live in such an environment, they tend to evolve and acquire skills that help them make their way in the modern world.

One of those skills is that of MAKING MONEY, having the human and technical resources, ably backed by a healthy living environment in the first instance (clean air, clean water), to develop financially favourable trade opportunities with others, be they local or international.

Nevertheless, MAKING MONEY is one thing. MANAGING MONEY is altogether another matter. The purpose of the MAKING (the betterment of people’s lives – financially and spiritually) can be readily defeated by corruption and greed. We see and hear examples of it everywhere. In the newspapers. On the TV. On the radio. By way of the very efficient “coconut drums” wire.

As we have seen VERY recently, people are becoming more concerned about and conscious of the need for MANAGING MONEY in a no-holds-barred atmosphere of………….

ABSOLUTE TRANSPARENCY & ABSOLUTE PROFESSIONALISM.

To sum it all up and as I’m sure my father would have said –“It takes an honest man to do that!”

POSTSCRIPT: In case you haven’t already worked it out, the “Minister of Chickens” is the same “Big Man” being touted by the Opposition as the next Prime Minister of Vanuatu. Go figure!!!

The question begs to be answered, don’t you think?….

Helicopter Ben's Car Crash Helicopter Ben’s Car Crash

“A gutful of what?”, you may well ask.

Before answering that, first allow me take you on a little journey back in time – to 2004…..

Back then, my wife and I were living in Australia, the so-called “lucky country”. I guess it was just that when compared to so many other places in the world – the poorer parts of Asia, Indo-neeees-ia, the good ol’ US of A, Mother England, Afreeka and the many camel-racing, oil-a-plenty sheikdoms in the Middle East, blah, blah.

BUT….”down-under” – the home of kangaroos, Fosters beer and “put a prawn on the barbie” tradition, by 2004 was a designer -made accident just waiting to happen….and we could see it coming.

Sure – I was making a bucketload of money (through a hell of a lot of hard work over many years, mind you). We lived in what many would call a mansion, on a lake-front Gold Coast, Queensland plot of some 900 square metres, had a growing collection of antiques, fine porcelain and a bunch of other ‘pretty’ stuff plus two cats.

It wasn’t enough, though. We had become progressively disenchanted with the “Rules and Regulations” of the “nanny-state” regime, with the ever-burgeoning tax imposts and with the lack of social contact with real people (I never did enjoy the BS ethos of “keeping up with the Joneses”, an aspect of Australian society that was more artificial in need than a guy professing to want a butt implant!). What is with THAT, anyway?!

Life's a BeachSo, on one of our many getaway trips to the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, in July 2004, we bought ourselves a nice little 2-acre lot of land, 15 minutes from the capital, Port Vila – right on the beach, before returning to OZ.

Then it happened. Well, a whole lot of things, actually and they were all things that made us declare –

“Enough! We’ve had a bloody gutful and we’re outa here! … and here we’ve been for the past nine years (to be continued…)

2014 is a year that will be a year of DRAMATIC change – for pretty much everyone, I believe. Please allow me to expand on this – just a little….or if you prefer, let’s just say that I’m happy to stick my neck out a little…or a lot if the situation at hand necessitates it.

VANUATU has a very good chance of putting down strong roots in 2014, roots that would propel it onto a path of greater self-determination. This can/should come from a number of areas such as the Vanuatu Government doing everything in its power, as a currently forgotten and/or to-date ignored Member of the WTO, to revive the kava export industry (Australia would be an appropriate start, methinks), continuation of the progress being made with regard to the legitimization of land ownership claims, planning and implementation of Vanuatu’s attractiveness as an IT-savvy and IT-friendly place within which to conduct an IT-related business, for instance – call centres for major off-shore corporations and financial institutions and the like.

Spot Gold Price 10 Years to 2/1/2014GOLD has been an absolute boon for Gold INVESTORS (Note the emphasis on “Investors”?). Its spot price has steadily deteriorated over the past two years or so thereby giving “dollar-cost-averaging” Investors (there’s THAT word again) the opportunity to make a mid-to-long-term killing.

Locally (Vanuatu and Australia), there’s a lot that can be said about the good, the bad and the ugly side of politics and bureaucracy. Some of it is refreshing, some disgusting, some appalling and some – just plain bloody unbelievable in its apparent untouchable temerity!

And finally, there’s the insane, the crazy, the weirdness or purely absurd and/or funny as hell.

So stay tuned for a mix of all of this in the year ahead – 2014 – the year of change! For better or worse? Well, to a very large degree, it’s all going to come down to what YOU do…or NOT do.

www.vanuatugoldwatcher.com