9 Aug 2013

Former Vanuatu cabinet minister calls airports' deal a scam

5:53 am on 9 August 2013

A former Vanuatu finance minister alleges a planned huge airport development is a scam.

Willie Jimmy, who says he lost his job last May after opposing the 350 million US dollar project, says the prime minister, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, asked him not to raise questions about the plan, which is to be underwritten with a promissory note from the government.

Mr Jimmy claims the land earmarked for a major new airport on Efate, able to take wide bodied jets direct from Asia, belongs to the prime minister's father-in-law.

And Mr Jimmy says when he was finance minister Mr Carcasses took him aside and asked him not to question the deal, saying all parties in the governnment coalition would get 'a slice of the cake.'

"I said that is not the way I do my job. I do my job and get paid out of the public funds and I don't think that getting a slice of cake through a project under the name of the Republic is a good thing. That is why he got rid of me as soon as possible. But I told the Council of Ministers there is no way I am going to sign this promissory note. I am not going to be a second Barak Sope [ Mr Sope was embroiled in a letters of guarantee scandal in 1996]. There is no way I am going to be the second Barak Sope under any scam deal like this."

A former Vanuatu finance minister, Willie Jimmy.