23 Mar 2012

NZ no longer offering to build new Vanuatu prison

3:45 pm on 23 March 2012

The New Zealand government has withdrawn its offer to spend more than five million US dollars on a new prison in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu's justice minister says his government is still waiting for a decision from New Zealand as to whether it's going to fund a new jail at Erangorango, outside of the capital.

But New Zealand's foreign affairs minister Murray McCully says his government is now only prepared to pay for a fairly significant rebuild of the existing Stade prison in Port Vila, which has resulted in something of a stalemate.

"We've withdrawn the offer to build the new prison and made a new offer to upgrade the Stade prison because we've spent the last three, four years waiting for access to a site. We've said we would do the upgrade of the Stade prison, we would still proceed to do that as a quick fix, if you like, but that's been rejected by them."

Murray McCully says New Zealand had told Vanuatu that even if it came up with a serviced site there would be a two-year delay in starting construction on a new prison and that's now too long to roll over the money.