The talks were held at the French High Commission in Noumea after a rally by the group, calling itself the Collective against Insecurity in New Caledonia. The group, which was formed last month after the death of a motorcyclist near Noumea, said it could table its grievances and that more talks will follow. Debate on social media has been intense about whether her fatal fall was an accident or the result of foul play because the incident happened along the troubled stretch of the main road near St Louis. The meeting was attended by the President of New Caledonia, the president of the southern province and the four mayors of the Noumea agglomeration.
SCRAPPING OF FEE HIKE WELCOMED
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Transparency International PNG says it is also happy the government has dropped plans for a ten-fold increase in the charge for people standing in June’s election. But it said it was annoyed the government even considered it. The government had planned for legislation, increasing the fee to 10,000 kina or $US,3,050 from 1000 kina, to go before MPs this week. It was the only item on the bill for the final session before the House rose on Tuesday for the election, but had been removed by the leader of House Business, James Marape, at the weekend. Transparency’s Lawrence Stephens said there was a sense that it may have been a distraction from other things. “Because it is so blatantly wrong to try to charge nomination fees like this. It is a ridiculous, punitive amount of money and it shouldn’t have even been considered,” he said.
LACK OF FUNDING SEES HOURS REDUCED
AMERICAN SAMOA – Government employees in American Samoa are being forced to work reduced hours from Monday because of an expected shortfall in federal funding. From Monday their eight hour day will be reduced to seven. The governor Lolo Moliga has called an emergency meeting to discuss the reduction. He said financial projections had been way off and he has not been able to get a clear picture of forthcoming federal grants from Washington. Lolo said he has not been able to get a firm answer because many key positions in the Department of Interior have not been filled by the president Donald Trump. He said after consultation with Fono leaders it’s been decided to reduce employees’ hours to cut expenditure in order to pay bills and continue vital services like health and education.
KIRIBATI-flagged ship sinks in china
KIRIBATI – A Kiribati-flagged ship has sunk in China and 12 people are missing. The general cargo ship Xiang Zhou sank at the Yangtze River estuary off Nantong after a collision. The Maritime Herald website says nearby ships saw the accident and succeeded to rescue two seamen, but another twelve were reported as missing, probably being trapped inside the wreck. The accident was reported to local authorities and a large scale-search and rescue operations was launched for the missing sailors, who are feared to have been trapped. The ship was on a voyage from South Korea.