The Vanuatu newspaper the Daily Post reported this came after a months-long stand-off between the government and the World Bank, which was funding the project, over the government’s choice of contractor. A successful bidder was supposed to have been announced in January. But the paper reported that this was hampered by differences of opinion concerning bid price and a lack of confidence in the capability of some of the bidders. Late last week the Vanuatu government told the World Bank it would be going public with its choice of contractor, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company, with or without the bank’s approval. By Friday morning the World Bank had approved the government’s choice.
STRIKE CLOSES VANUATU AIRPORT
VANUATU – All domestic flights in Vanuatu have been cancelled until further notice due to ongoing strike action by workers at Air Vanuatu’s fuel provider, South Pacific Petroleum. This is the second recent strike at the company, after one a month ago. Yesterday morning all Pacific Petroleum refuel stations in Port Vila were also closed. It is understood workers are not happy with some of their working conditions.
PLANS FOR ELECTION FEE HIKE PARKED
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The nomination fee for the Papua New Guinea general election will remain at US$315 per candidate following the Government’s decision to shelve its proposal to hike the fee to the kina equivalent of more than three thousand US dollars. The National newspaper reported that the Finance Minister, James Marape, said it would be up to the next government to bring the issue up for debate in parliament. He said the government had given consideration to peoples views that the fee remain unchanged for this year’s poll, but he said they would consider changes for the 2022 general election. Marape said this would include a recommendation that candidates who garner 20 percent or more of the vote would get their money back.
300 EXTRA TEACHERS NEEDED IN VANUATU
VANUATU – The Vanuatu Teaching Service Commission says more than 300 extra teachers are needed in schools but it doesn’t have the money to pay for them. It said it needs five and a half million US dollars to pay for more teachers. Commission chairman Derek Alexander said he hoped the government would will be able to find the money when a supplementary budget goes before Parliament next month. Alexander said the lack of teachers was predominantly in primary schools in remote areas. He said he’s worried the quality of teaching is suffering. Alexander said school leavers were helping to fill the gaps by assisting in schools.