9 Nov 2007

Vanuatu minister speculating with Big Bay proposal, says opposition MP

4:28 pm on 9 November 2007

A Vanuatu opposition MP, Serge Vohor, says Big Bay landowners are still divided over the proposed Free Trade Zone in their area.

Mr Vohor has warned that the Lands Minister's push for the free trade zone project in Big Bay reflects the diminished power of customary landowners under recent amendments to the Land Act.

Earlier in the year the Minister, Maxime Carlot Korman, signed an MOU with Texas-based Pacific Vanguard Corporation towards establishing the project on customary land in Big Bay.

Project co-ordinators say consultation with landowners is currently taking place before approval is given.

But Mr Vohor says the minister has not conveyed what a free trade zone will entail, and that the government is just indulging in land speculation.

"The amendment of the Land Act passed by parliament last parliament gives the authority, the full power of the Minister to make a speculation on land. It has become very dangerous because he can decide on behalf of the custom owner to fix the amount of pay to the custom owner."

Serge Vohor