1 Dec 2011

Vanuatu government attacks church council over WTO opposition

3:09 pm on 1 December 2011

The Vanuatu government has been strongly critical of the Council of Churches role' in opposing the country joining the World Trade Organisation.

Parliament is in the process of ratifying membership.

Prime minister, Sato Kilman, accused the church body of bribery after it paid allowances to opposition MPs attending a workshop opposing WTO membership.

Mr Kilman says it would be interesting to learn where the VCC got the money to pay the allowances.

The minister of internal affairs, George Wells, who is also responsible for churches, swore about the church leaders and NGOs on one occasion but later withdrew the comment.

He says the churches and NGOs are wrong to claim that under WTO rules foreigners will end up owning land, saying under the constitution, land belongs to the custom owners.

The minister of public utilities, Harry Iauko, says the role of the churches is to prepare the souls of the people for the next world, not to preach against the WTO.