5 Jan 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific 5 January 2021

2:55 pm on 5 January 2021

Fiji extends rent freeze

Fiji has extended a rent freeze until the end of this year.

The freeze was due to end at the end of December but the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission decided to keep the cap.

Its chief executive said the Covid-19 pandemic had an enormous impact, with many people losing their job or work hours.

Joel Abraham said the controls now serve broader functions, such as consumer protection and ensuring affordability of residential rental properties.

According to the Consumer Council, tenancy complaints topped the list of grievances last year.

New Caledonia road toll drops

The road toll in New Caledonia last year has dropped over the previous year while nearly all fatal accidents involved alcohol or drug use.

The figures show that 37 people lost their lives which is 15 fewer than in 2019.

However the percentage of those affected by alcohol and drugs soared to 92.

The figures also show that many victims didn't wear seat belts.

Vale damage

The damage caused by arsonists to the Vale nickel plant in New Caledonia is estimated to be in excess of $US10 million.

After fires last month crippled operations there have been further intrusions in the night to New Year's Day by unidentified groups, who burnt down the office for a projected storage site.

The violence erupted after Vale announced plans to sell its New Caledonian assets to a new consortium Prony Resources, which includes a Swiss trading company, Trafigura, as well as local stakeholders.

Negotiations to finalise a sale are expected to continue until mid-February.

Opponents of the sale, which includes pro-independence parties, want want the asset to go into local ownership.