27 Oct 2005

Vanuatu land minister criticised in VMA dispute

5:39 pm on 27 October 2005

The commissioner of the Vanuatu Maritime Authority, John Les Napuati, has rejected criticism over his role at the VMA from the Minister of Lands.

Willy Jimmy has described Mr Napuati as incapable and has called for sweeping changes at the VMA.

Mr Jimmy says the VMA, which is currently embroiled in dozens of legal cases, is in a big mess which is costing the government dearly.

He points to the compensation of around 180,000 US dollars being paid to two former VMA officers for their wrongful dismissal as ruled by the Supreme Court.

However Mr Napuati says Mr Jimmy created the problem himself when he was acting Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities by directing VMA staff sackings

And he blames Mr Jimmy for the VMA's instability.

"The VMA is currently politicised because of the latest amendment made to the VMA Act by Willie Jimmy himself. The latest amendment states that when the minister changes, the board changes and that minister makes appointments of the board members. For me as CEO of the VMA, everytime the board changes, they change direction of the VMA, there will never be any stability in the VMA itself."

VMA commissioner, John Les Napuati