4 Nov 2011

Vanuatu finance minister negotiating with bank to prevent 'civil unrest'

5:12 pm on 4 November 2011

Vanuatu's finance minister says he is still negotiating with the National Bank to prevent more evictions over loans issued originally by the National Provident Fund.

Moana Kalosil Carcasses says the bank has taken legal action over social loans that were commercialised in 1998.

He says the loans are held by a mixture of politicians, business people and government employees.

Mr Carcasses says he is not sure of the number of people the bank has already evicted but the order applies to families in one-hundred homes.

"And half of them are what you call unelected members and as a responsible politician and minister the government has some responsibility to see hey, what will happen, 1,300 people on the street, that will lead to what, civil unrest, social problems? Yes."

Moana Kalosil Carcasses says that's why he's asked the bank if the government can help it by taking over the loans.

Transparency International Vanuatu says the appointment of a new chairperson to the board of the Provident Fund threatens its independence.

Mr Carcasses says he has replaced the former chairperson, Benjamin Shing, with his own political advisor, Morris Michel, because he wants the position to be held by a finance ministry employee.

But Transparency's president, Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson, says that's against Fund rules.

We are going to express our concern and outline the breaches that seem to appear in what has been done and basically inform the people of Vanuatu of the risk that seems to be appearing of the VNPF being progressively put under the control of the Ministry of Finance when it should be an independent body.

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says the people of Vanuatu are well aware that the Fund is their money and that it shouldn't be used to shore up the government budget.