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Pacific news in brief

Tuesday 26 April 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


Pacific news in brief
Photo: 123RF

PNG's PM Marape seeks damages against Swiss banking giant UBS.

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is vowing to seek damages from Swiss banking giant, UBS.

This in the wake of a commission of inquiry into a loan to the previous PNG government by the the UBS's Australian arm.

The bank earned millions from the loan to buy shares in Oil Search, but the PNG government lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Commission of Inquiry was told the loan was pushed through against Cabinet advice and not put before the PNG parliament until after it was in place.

Marape planned to bring in a team of investigators, including Transparency International, to study the findings and decide who should face criminal charges.

The Commission of Inquiry has recommended former Prime Minister Peter O'Neill be prosecuted for giving false information to it, and that he be referred to the Independent Commission against Corruption and the Leadership Tribunal.

O'Neill has said he is ready to face any action against him.

The Commission of Inquiry chaired by former Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia, decided UBS had overcharged the PNG Government by more than $US127 million and should be asked to repay this.

And it said both the PNG and Australian authorities should consider whether civil or criminal sanctions should be sought.

Cook Islands commemorates Anzac Day today

The Cook Islands honoured its war veterans with a dawn parade in Avarua today.

Hundreds of Cook Islanders have served in the New Zealand army since World War I.

Local RSA Treasurer Denis Dwane, who fought for the New Zealand Defence Force in Vietnam, said Anzac Day was a time of reflection for veterans of all wars.

"The Cook Islands contribution in World War I, there was about 650 soldiers departed here. We've got about 23 commemorated as having died as a result of the war. Some at the war, and some from sickness, mainly out of the flu epidemic. And those soldiers were part of the Maori Pioneer contingent. They made up the fourth company. They went to northern France, the first contingent, and then because of the cold they moved south to Palestine," Dwane said.

{h] Samoa's Director General of Health questioned about CAT scanner

Samoa's Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, is facing scrutiny from the Public Service Commission.

This comes after the government order the Public Service Commission to investigate the delay in procuring a new computerized tomography or CAT scanner for the Tupua Mamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia.

Last month the Commission seized the hard drive from the Leausa's computer while he was overseas.

The hospital's CAT scanner had been out of commission since 2020 and as a result patients in Samoa are flown to American Samoa for their scans.

A replacement CAT scanner was approved by the previous government and it was delivered to Samoa, but the Health Ministry is still waiting for installers to arrive from overseas.

Bill to raise minimum wage in Northern Marianas

A bill that could raise the minimum wage in the Northern Marianas by more than a third has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Representative Tina Sablan authored the House bill to establish a minimum wage at $US10 - equivalent to the Federal minimum wage.

The bill aims to gradually increase the Northern Marianas minimum wage by 55 cent increments to reach $10 after four years.

Sablan said the legislation would remove outdated wage laws which discriminate against those with unpaid wage claims and categories such as the elderly, domestic workers, and those with disabilities.

She said the bill also addressed the extremely limited window for workers to file claims for unpaid wages or other compensation owed them.

Nurses on Savai'i test positive for Covid-19

The Samoa Nurses Association has reported 22 registered nurses working in hospitals around the island of Savai'i have tested positive for coronavirus.

Association President Solialofi Papali'i told TV1Samoa that 14 nurses working at the Sataua District Hospital tested positive for Covid-19 as did two nurses working at Safotu District Hospital and six nurses at the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital at Tuasivi.

Papali'i and the Nurses Association travelled to Savai'I to offer support for their members and to personally hand out special financial bonuses which are part of $32,000 allocated by the Association for their members to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Papali'i said that it was only a matter of time before the frontline nurses became infected, especially as inter-island travel has resumed.

Speaking from Savai'i, Papali'i said the nurses have had their workload increase as more people become infected.

She said this is over and above their normal duties of caring and treating patients who do not have covid-related ailments.