COMMENT: By Bob Makin in Port Vila
Two big issues for Vanuatu lead today’s news and need quick resolution to restore confidence in the current administration. There are legal and political sides to both controversies.
The first major outstanding issue is that of the appointment of a Police Commissioner.
A previous Police Service Commission decided that Chief Inspector Albert Nalpini was the best man for the job, but then the commissioner in charge was declared illegal.
The commission’s recommendation for Nalpini’s appointment to the top police job was never enacted; the Head of State never received the recommendation.
Nalpini is now asserting his rights in the matter in court.
Governments have over decades changed the top policemen in Vanuatu: so political has been the posting that we have even seen police commissioners become prime minister.
And there have been mutinies and alleged mutinies. It is just as well all the issues are being brought out in this Supreme Court hearing behind which is the bigger question of whether we can manage our security ourselves or whether we need to appoint outsiders to head the police force again – especially those who may have much wider experience.
On national radio, Vanuatu’s presence on the international Finance Action Taskforce (FATF)’s money-laundering and terrorism financing “grey list” heads the news.
“How grey is our list?” is the question, not just for the broadcasters but also for the people of Vanuatu and foreign investors.
MP Johnny Koanapo, parliamentary secretary for such issues, told Radio Vanuatu midday news that Vanuatu could lose its “light grey” category easily and even find itself again on the black list.
The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) which assesses countries’ anti-money-laundering regulations, dirty money and counter-terrorism financing met recently in Sydney and Koanapo was present.
Koanapo saw the meeting as “very, very critical for the economy of Vanuatu because of the Vanuatu Finance Centre.”
It appeared to Koanapo that it would be easy for Vanuatu to find itself blacklisted again.
The Prime Minister had directed Vanuatu’s national coordinating committee to meet with all those concerned with the country’s offshore rating and to discuss the issues there.
New legislation is soon to go before Parliament. It is to be hoped this will quickly restore Vanuatu’s financial credibility internationally.
Bob Makin writes on media and current issues regularly for Vanuatu Digest.