6 Mar 2006

Vanuatu's Molisa critical of government kava policy

11:40 am on 6 March 2006

A coalition member in Vanuatu's government, Sela Molisa, says he will withdraw his support for the ruling administration if it doesn't change it's controversial new kava exporting policy.

A number of government backbenchers are said to be dissatisfied with the government's move last week to have the Commodities Marketing Board take over duties of exporting Kava and copra.

The agriculture minister, Barak Sope, was subsequently dumped from cabinet and is now in opposition planning a motion of no-confidence in the government.

Mr Molisa says that the Comprehensive Reform Programme started in 1998 was to free up the markets and deregulate, but the new policy is taking the economy backwards by creating monopolies.

"We've enjoyed economy growth in the last two and a half years at around three percent . But with this one that they're doing now, it's going to affect the economy growth - in my view it's going to be negative. I cannot accept this kind of policy to continue. We started to reform the economy, and they cannot take us backwards like that. My voters are copra cutters and kava growers so I cannot allow the government to muck around with their kava and copra like that."

Sela Molisa says his Vanua'aku Pati, which is a key coalition partners, has decided to take up the issue with cabinet.