Pacific Briefs

Wednesday March 14, 2018 Written by Published in Regional

Fiji’s housing chief throws in towel

 

FIJI – Another senior bureaucrat in Fiji has resigned and left the country. Fiji Village reports that Dr Punit Seth, CEO of Fiji’s Housing Authority, has returned to India. No details had been given to explain the sudden departure of Dr Sethi. He is the latest in a string of senior bureaucrats to quit with little explanation after short stints in the job. Since 2016, the heads of the ministries of health and agriculture, the head of the land Transport Authority, and the permanent secretaries of infrastructure and communications, have all quit. A fortnight ago, the country’s chief climate negotiator, Nazhat Shameem Kumar, left her role without any explanation, but will remain as Fiji’s representative in Geneva.

NON-SAMOAN DEPORTEES NOT WANTED

PACIFIC – The Prime Minister of Samoa says there is no way his country will accept deportees from the United States who are not Samoan citizens. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told KHJ News that his government was still not clear on the details except that nine criminals of Samoan descent were due to be deported to Samoa. He said the issue of non-Samoan citizens was all part of the usual bullying tactics by major nations like the United States. “Those kind of people must not be deported to Samoa. If they are not citizens of Samoa they should be sent to the country of citizenship,” he said. Having said that, Tuilaepa said his government would work at resettling all deportees when they arrive. One of the problems, according to Tuilaepa,” is these people come here and they are like people from another planet”.

COURT PRESIDENT FACES MORE CHARGes

SAMOA – The District Court in Samoa has transferred to the Supreme Court criminal charges against the Lands and Titles court president, Fepulea’i Attila Ropati. This comes after police filed an additional charge of causing grievous bodily harm which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. The president was also charged with one count of assault, armed with a dangerous weapon and actual bodily harm. A District Court hearing today was mcalled on Tuesday at 9am – an hour earlier than the usual start time. RNZI’s Samoa correspondent said this was to avoid the media, and lawyers have questioned why the judiciary was giving special treatment to the president’s case.

Guam cuts education spending

GUAM – Public schools in Guam face a hiring freeze and will not be using 168 on-call substitute teachers from next week, as cost-cutting measures hit the education department. The territory’s government faces a US$67 million revenue shortfall this year because of federal tax cuts, with government departments forced to bring in several austerity measures. The education superintendent Jon Fernandez ha proposed a third phase of cuts as his department tries to cover a US$19.6 million budget shortfall. This includes delaying the start of a new school year until October 1, closing campuses after hours through the summer, and bringing a 32-hour work week beginning July 1.

- Staff and clients of the Papua New Guinea National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology have been locked out of their offices because the government hasn’t paid the rent. The Post-Courier reported that the agency owes US$3.2 million dollars in rent. The Institute is expected to play a key role in the government’s efforts to develop trade and attract investments. Its functions cover technical standards, metrology, conformity assessment schemes, productivity and technical barriers to trade in Papua New Guinea.

- The French government and the Pacific Community have joined forces to strengthen public health surveillance and response capacities in the Pacific. The focus is on dealing with epidemics, emerging transmissible diseases, antimicrobial resistance and climatic disaster impacts. France is to back the Public Health Surveillance Network for three years with funding of US$3.7 million dollars. The deputy director of the Pacific Community, Cameron Diver, said France is making a massive contribution to health security in the Pacific.

- The European Union is allocating a further US$360,000 in humanitarian funding to Tonga for communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Gita. The EU gave an initial US$120,000 in post-cyclone assistance to Tonga last month. A European humanitarian aid operations expert was also deployed to take part in a rapid assessment of the situation. This comes as Tonga’s government announced that a state of emergency will be extended for four weeks.

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