27 May 2011

Vanuatu NGO says report shows stevedoring company's multi-million dollar debts

1:05 pm on 27 May 2011

A Vanuatu NGO says a report into the accounts of a cargo loading company owned by provincial and central government shows it has a multimillion dollar debt.

The Luganville-based Northern Islands Stevedoring Company or NISCOL is the subject of a criminal investigation launched by the Minister of Finance, who recently terminated the government's contract with the company.

Transparency Vanuatu says a commission of inquiry found NISCOL, which is owned in the majority by the provinces but has a 10 percent government shareholding, owes more than five million US dollars to a number of different creditors.

The media officer, Tony Tarivonda, says there's a lot of public suspicion around the finding.

"The thing is for a number of years the company never paid a number of creditors and there's a question why the company's still operating when it still has a lot of debts to pay and that's a big question."

Tony Tarivonda says provincial shareholders have not been receiving dividends from NISCOL.