Posts Tagged ‘Lands Dept.’

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.

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Paper Bag Ministers

Paper Bag Ministers

According to Hon. MP Ralph Regenvanu – “in the past five years, the Government of Vanuatu has issued about 145 licenses for offshore mining exploration and prospecting, and another 3 for offshore oil exploration”.

It’s good to see this revelation in the media – it’s called transparency.

HOWEVER, there is yet to be any mention of the amount of licence fees paid and who they were paid to or is this yet another case of previous Paper Bag Ministers (sometimes referred to as Minister of Lands) at work again?

cry-babySome things and of course, some people, never change.

This is especially evident in news media articles and social media commentary since the installation of the new Government here in Vanuatu. Particularly noticeable are the comments and statements from deposed previous government MP’s and their supporters as they continue to clutch at straws in the fond hope that they will get back into their lost positions of power and money-grabbing capacities.

These people should face reality: they lost and did so for all the right reasons.

The new government’s stated 100-day-Plan is just that – a 100-DAY-PLAN, not 30 or 60 or any other number. The time to fully assess the achievements or otherwise of the government’s stated objectives is at the end of 100 DAYS. Of course, it’s quite possible that some objectives will not be achieved within the stated time-frame but at least this government, unlike its predecessors, has had the guts to put itself on the line and continue to communicate with the people as to what they are doing and how they’re going about it.

Naturally, we should all continue to be watchful regarding the government and bureaucrat actions or lack thereof in the days and weeks that follow.

In the meantime, a message to the losers – why not try something completely different – stop your unnecessary, self-serving and counter-productive whinging, bitching and complaining. Suck it up baby and get on with it!

VNPF

Vanuatu National Provident Fund

Here is Part Two of Keep Your Grubby Hands Off OUR Money!”  Enjoy….

(Note: All of my media articles can be found on the Home page of “The Watcher”  or here (The Money Connection).

By now, you all know of my passionate interest in anti-corruption and my activist role in attempts to change things for the better in Vanuatu. The Vanuatu government ratified a UN Convention, 2 years ago, wherein an anti-corruption body was to be formed. This has not happened yet and time is running out for the government to meet its UN obligations.

ralph regenvanuFortunately, the new Cabinet includes Ralph Regenvanu, the new Lands Minister, President of the Graon mo Jastis Pati and current Government Spokesman. I say “fortunately” because Ralph is also an enthusiastic anti-corruption advocate. As such, I am hoping and anticipating that he will “make it happen”, sooner, rather than later.

On the world scene, things have also been pretty chaotic – Civil wars in Africa, Cyprus citizens robbed of their savings, calls by Germany for the Italians to have some of their personal wealth confiscated as well (15%), attempted leadership spill in Australia, South Korea and Guam are on “high alert” due to North Korea making a lot of noises about war and Argentina pushing to take over the Falklands again in light of the first-ever commercial oil discovery there. Hope the situation doesn’t arise where another “Maggie Thatcher” is needed again, as in 1982!

A word or two on GOLD. The “mates club” members – IMF, WTO, World Bank, EU, US Federal Reserve and the ECB have done a cracker of a job in their apparent common goal of creating economic chaos. Their so-called attempts to “stimulate growth” have been a hoax. Why? Well, they continue to debase the global currencies ad nauseum and simultaneously decry the value of GOLD (E.g., Ben Bernanke’s stated view that gold is NOT money) but what are they doing in practice? Surprise! They’re buying gold as if there were no tomorrow. For the first time in 20 years, the Central Banks became net BUYERS of gold in 2011 and have retained that position ever since.

VNPF

Vanuatu National Provident Fund

Pension Funds, worldwide, are now pushing to have a proportion of their assets allocated to gold (Hmmm, I wonder what the VNPF’s position is on this?). Note: I know that the current Reserve Bank Governor has stated that Vanuatu has no gold nor is there any intention of having gold in the nation’s coffers.

These two trending factors, Central Bank buying and Pension Fund buying combined with an increasing private demand for gold, stand to push up its prices and in my view, dramatically.

There are many indicators emerging that suggest that 2013 could well be the watershed year for global finances. The issue is not whether we’ll feel any pain from a global financial collapse but rather how much pain and how soon? In times such as these, gold always proves its worth as a “store of value”. Got some? No? Get some.

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!

Vanuatu GovernmentWe in Vanuatu now have a new Government and here’s the line-up, straight from the new Minister of Lands, the Hon. MP Ralph Regenvanu (thanks Ralph [RR] for keeping us informed, especially on Facebook and on your www.graonmojastic.org website)……….

1. Prime Minister : Moana Carcasses Kalosil
2. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade : Nipake Edward Natapei
3. Finance and Economic Management : Willy Jimmy
4. Education : Bob Loughman
5. Lands, Geology, Mines, Energy and Water Resources : Ralph Regenvanu
6. Infrastructure and Public Utilities : Esmon Sae
7. Internal Affairs : Patrick Crowby Manarewo
8. Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity : David Tosul
9. Tourism and Commerce : Marcelino Pipite
10. Health : Serge Vohor
11. Justice And Social Welfare : Maki Simelum
12. Youth Development, Training and Sports : Tony Wright
13. Planning and Climate Change Adaptation : Thomas Laken

* Ministry of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development and Ministry of Trade have been merged into a new Ministry of Tourism And Commerce
* Ministry of Youth Development, Training and Sports has been re-instated and the Ministry of Civil Aviation removed
* A new Ministry of Planning and Climate Change Adaptation has been created.

Additionally, the new Government has released its “100-Day Plan”, initially via the “Independent” newspaper. At some later time, I shall comment further on this “Plan”.

The Watcher(W)Nevertheless, have no doubt about my personal commitment and continued hard-line on corruption within the political and public sectors. Same goes for YACV and the VACC (Vanuatu Anti-Corruption Commission) of which I am part.

Personally, I intend to scrutinise the actions and deeds of the new government even more diligently. Why? Simply because perhaps for the first time since the early days of post-independence politics, the people of Vanuatu have a shared sense and vision of hope for the future – theirs and Vanuatu’s as a whole.

So, to all the new MP’s – DON’T MESS UP! We are relying on you to do the “right” thing – by us and by the nation.

 

no-justiceIt just gets better and better…….

This morning’s Daily Post has as its lead article the news that 40 Department of Land staff are to be investigated by the Public Service Commission over their roles in the land scam created by the former Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau. Fair enough. HOWEVER, what is the Government doing about the fact that its own Minister instigated this rort in the first place? Please correct me if I am wrong but to my knowledge, the Government has made no comment regarding Kalsakau’s involvement. Instead, they gave him a new Ministry – Education. Isn’t that great? We already have unpaid teachers due to misuse and abuse of funds allocated to the education of our youth, Scholarships cancelled and schools in a state of disrepair and now we have a crooked Minister in charge of our children’s future, again.

Right now, Kalsakau, Carlot and Pipete are all facing criminal charges – all them Ministers in the previous and current governments. The truth, along with transparency, accountability and integrity it seems, doesn’t matter – it’s just “business as usual”.

John Shing, PA to the Prime Minister, summed it up nicely and I quote his direct words to me on Facebook – “…from a political stand point, any news, be it negative or positive is always good news as the aim of a politician is to ensure his/her name is always in the news. At the end of the day, people tend to forget the good and bad that has been committed. All they will remember will be the name.”

The truth and justice be damned, apparently!

Aliens in Human Form

Aliens in Human Form

Locally, well not much has changed over the past week or so– we’re getting a 1.5 Billion Vatu Convention Centre, courtesy of China. A likely white elephant, in my view and all the while sorely-needed money for health and education goes wanting.

Sometimes, I swear, I think there must be something to the “there are aliens amongst us in human form” theory because the actions of the policy-makers and law-makers here defy human logic.

Looking abroad, I guess the first point to make about the past week is that watching the markets has been as about as exciting as listening to the Antartic weather forecast for tomorrow (COLD!). All very “Ho hum”, you might say.

Apart from Japan’s, the others have all experienced small daily pluses/minuses with the end result that all ended “up” for the week.

What could have affected the markets in a manner that drove them in the same direction?

It’s all been to do with “money” or rather, the lack thereof.

JapanJAPAN. Currently has a national debt that is 24 times the tax revenues. Their new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has declared a new strategy for their economy. You guessed it – grease the wheels of the money-printing presses and let ‘er rip! This, from “The Guardian”, U.K…… The interest rate on Japan’s 10-year government bonds is now less than 1% – the lowest in the world, despite a very high level of government debt and annual budget deficits. Indeed, Japan’s debt is roughly 230% of GDP, higher than that of Greece (175% of GDP) and nearly twice that of Italy (125%). The annual budget deficit is nearly 10% of GDP, higher than any of the Eurozone countries. With nominal GDP stagnating, that deficit is causing the debt/GDP ratio to rise by 10% annually.”

One response from angryboy that had what I reckon is a good take on the issue, said –

“The Japanese have been trying to “kick start” their economy for years but all they seem to be doing is proving that Keynesian “stimulus” efforts work just like any other artificial stimulant by providing a short lived boost that does nothing to provide any sustainable, positive changes and leaves the country ever deeper in debt.
The one positive note is that there are plenty of lessons on what not to do for the West to learn from”

U.S. President Barack Obama says Congress has to raise the debt ceiling because they already spent the money.” 

Oh dear! And this from the leader of the largest economy on the planet (sigh).

CHINA. A different story to remind you about. There is continuing discussion and speculation about the Yuan gaining increasing status as a “currency of choice”. The facts speak for themselves and this CBNC article “Yuan as a World Currency? Getting there Fast” is but one of many snippets of the “facts” out there in mainstream and academic media.

PHOCEA SAGA. We’re watching the events and news surrounding this issue and will keep you posted. Is this the straw that will break the back of the Kilman government?

Choices and Consequences

The elections are over….bar the usual post-election disputes, naturally. Whether you voted or otherwise, you now have to live with the consequences of your choice and actions for the next 4 years.

The WatcherThe Vanuatu elections may not seem important to many, however, it is my view that 2012 is the year we shall look back and reflect upon what went wrong/right with the appointment of a new Parliament. Naturally, I am hoping for more of the “what went right” scenario. So, what could go “wrong”?

 The first thing that comes to mind is that the “Old Guard” will get back into power. You know, the illiterate, crooked, corrupt, unethical, snouts-in-the-trough ones. Every single one of these “big men” has rorted the system for their own benefit time and time again. Promises made – none kept (apart from those that directly benefited their own pockets or power bases). They have consistently lied to the voters; made no real attempt to improve the health and education sectors; forsaken the maintenance and preservation of the Ni-Vanuatu culture; unmercifully ‘milked’ investors and of course – broken the law on frequent occasions with apparent impunity. None of them have had the guts or will or vision to make real change happen for the betterment of Vanuatu as a whole.

 The Public Service is a bloody disgrace, a total shambles presided over by Ministers who have used the bureaucracy for their own ends while doing nothing to help develop a culture of transparency and accountability. The Leadership Code – a joke as far as its enforcement is concerned. The Ombudsman’s Office – a toothless tiger. The PPO (Public Prosecutor’s Office) – hopelessly incompetent and corrupt. Overall, the judicial system is in need of a MAJOR overhaul. The Lands Department and Ministry – what can I say. Even after the recent and most blatant, in-your-face, “up-yours” corruptive practices by the Minister and Lands Department staff “favourites” have failed to produce any reaction from those who are meant to uphold the law…..and the guy is looking to get re-elected. The part that concerns me is that it could damn well happen!

 HOWEVER, THERE IS HOPE FOR CHANGE. There is one HUGE factor at play this time around, one that has never been used before in this country, as a political tool, at least and that is – SOCIAL MEDIA.

 I admit to being an avid follower of Facebook sites such as “YUMI TOKTOK STRET” – a forum that attracts an awesome number of comments and posts. Approaching 10,000 members, I get the impression that the membership is significantly weighted toward the “NOW” generation – 18-30 y.o. In my view, this factor alone stands to result in a voting shift of considerable magnitude. Hopefully, such a shift will take place on polling day, a shift that will clean out the “rubbish” and install some cultural pride and honesty and integrity into the running of this country.

 If we are fortunate enough to see such an improbable outcome take place, then Vanuatu will have a real chance to cement its position as a well-governed, safe, culturally-intact sovereign nation that deserves the title – “The Happiest Place on Earth”! Silip!