Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 22 June 2011

Solomons lagoon’s world heritage listing looking fragile

Scientists say the chances of Marovo lagoon in Solomon Islands achieving World Heritage status are diminishing because of events such as the recent widespread fish deaths.

Scientists say natural factors are the main cause of the deaths but that logging is likely to have contributed.

Marovo Lagoon, which surrounds Vangunu Island in Western Province, is the largest double barrier reef in the world and has been considered for UNESCO world heritage status.

But Simon Albert, from the University of Queensland, who was part of a team sent to investigate the fish deaths says that listing is looking fragile.
“Pre-logging 15 years ago was one of the most intact places on the planet and there’s still despite the logging activities, there’s still strong interest from UNESCO but as the years tick by and the resources become more and more depleted and events like this occur obviously the chances of that world heritage listing are slipping away.”
Simon Albert says there’s concern about the diets and incomes of those who rely on the lagoon’s sea life.

Solomon Islands dollar revaluing promising sign to business community

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the revaluing of the currency as a sign of the government’s willingness to make regulatory changes.

A five percent rise in the value of the Solomon Islands dollar took effect last week.

The finance minister says the appreciation was a result of discussions with the International Monetary Fund and the country’s Central Bank about how to combat inflationary pressures.

The chamber’s chief executive, Calvin Ziru, says five percent is probably not enough to make a real difference to people struggling with the cost of living but the chamber is viewing the move positively.
“This is an indication of government and the Central Bank making decisions to make some changes regulation wise to sort of improve not only the way that we do business but also primarily to buffer the effects of external influences on the cost of living in the Solomon Islands.”
Calvin Ziru says what the chamber wants to see next are measures to sustain economic growth.

Audit finds mismanagement at Vanuatu’s China embassy

The Vanuatu auditor general’s office has found serious irregularities and mismanagement at the country’s Embassy in China.

It says grave allegations of mismanagement over the period of several years prompted it to send a team to the Chinese capital in late 2009.

Don Wiseman has more:
“Vanuatu opened an Embassy in Beijing just over five years ago, installing naturalised citizen Lo Chi Wai as the first ambassador, a post now held by former cabinet minister, Willie Jimmy. The audit team says the accusations of mismanagement are verified and that the Embassy’s internal control system is weak and needs to be substantially strengthened. The auditors found fault with the processing of visas, the issuing of diplomatic passports and the appointing of foreign nationals to staff the Embassy, the consular office in Shanghai and a travel office in Shubai . It says the Shubai office was set up illegally and directed it be shut down. It says this office and Shanghai have issued visas worth more than two million US dollars but this money hasn’t been accounted for. The auditors put much of the blame on the ministry of foreign affairs and call for it to lay out clear parameters for diplomatic staff. But they also say there’re similar failings within the ministry itself and say additional investigation is needed into possible fraud and corruption there.”

PNG’s Abal names replacements for Polye and Duma

Replacements have been named for the two ministers sacked by Papua New Guinea’s acting prime minister Sam Abal two weeks ago.

The appointments have been made as part of a major cabinet reshuffle.

The former Foreign Minister Don Polye has been replaced by Ano Pala, while Francis Potape has replaced William Duma as Petroleum and Energy Minister.

The new cabinet line-up also includes Patrick Pruaitch as Finance Minister, Peter O’Neil as Minister of Works, Philip Kikala as Agriculture Minister, and Charles Abel as Minister assisting the Prime Minister.

Post Courier reporter Peter Korugl says Mr Pruaitch’s appointment comes despite his suspension as finance minister last year after he was referred to a leadership tribunal over allegations of double-dipping, improper receipts and misappropriation of grants.
“The surprise appointment is Patrick Pruaitch. Patrick has made his intention known that he wants to come back into government as Minister for Finance and Treasury. Now who doesn’t want to be the Minister for Finance and Treasury when we are getting into an election year.”
Peter Korugl says the Supreme Court has since overruled Mr Pruaitch’s suspension, and Mr Abal is trying to shore up support by reappointing him.

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