10 Aug 2021

In brief: news from around the Pacific

7:17 pm on 10 August 2021
Ceremony to swear-in FAST party into government

Ceremony to swear-in FAST party into government Photo: Ame Tanielu

Samoa's FAST MPs want their pay

Some of the twenty six members of Samoa's FAST government have appealed to the new Minister of Finance to be paid.

Finance Minister Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molio'o has told the Samoa Observer MPs have asked about the status of their salary payments.

She confirmed they had not been paid since they were elected and subsequently sworn in on 24 May in the now infamous tent swearing in ceremony.

Mulipola said that they are now in their second week in control of government coffers but they have not yet been paid.

The Minister said she has now advised the Ministry of Finance to work with the Clerk of the House and the Attorney General to make the necessary arrangements to effect salary payments.

She said her concern is the MPs in the caretaker government were paid through July but the 26 MPs, who won the election and had been sworn in, have not received any payments to date.

Mulipola said "this is concerning for me as the new Minister of Finance and I am committed to working with my Ministry to ensure this apparent difference in treatment and the nature and quality of the advice I have received to date, is immediately addressed and corrected.

Samoa and Australia launch inquiry into the grounding of the MV Nafanua

An inquiry has been launched by the Samoan and Australia governments into the grounding of Samoa's Police Patrol Boat MV Nafanua on the Salelologa reef last week.

Samoa Media reports the Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil confirmed that the boat, which was gifted by Australia in 2019, has extensive damage.

He said the patrol boat is being examined to see if the damage can be fixed in Samoa or whether it will need to be taken to Australia.

The Nafanua is the fourth patrol boat donated by Australia and is used extensively for patrolling the country's exclusive economic zone.

The boat had gone to Salelologa to transport Police reinforcements to assist Savaii police in an anticipated stand-off between supporters of the FAST government and a HRPP protest rally on the island.

FAST supporters used rocks to block roads near Salelologa and Sasina villages, forcing the HRPP Leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to cut short the rally.

UNICEF to rollout vaccines to protect thousands of children in the Pacific.

The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, UNICEF, says the rollout of vaccines to protect thousands of children against pneumonia, rotavirus and cervical cancer has begun in Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu and soon Vanuatu.

Its Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett, says while the focus of the world is understandably on boosting immunization against Covid-19, one health crisis cannot be traded for another.

In the Pacific, pneumonia and diarrhoea are two of the top three causes for mortality in children under 5 years of age.

Cervical cancer has also been reported as one of the top three regional priorities by Pacific leaders, with over a thousand cervical cancer cases each year.

PNG's largest superannuation fund is warning members to be on the alert for fraudsters

Papua New Guinea's largest superannuation fund, Numbawan Super, is warning members to be on the alert for fraudsters.

It said members must avoid any approaches from third parties offering to do work on their behalf.

The chief executive, Paul Sayer, said the superfund, with holdings of more than 8 billion kina, is increasingly attractive in tough times.

He said there have been several recent reports from members who had been asked to pay fees by those offering to help them access their accounts.

Mr Sayer said Numbawan Super doesn't use third parties and only ever deals directly with its members.

PNG parliament reconvenes only to adjourn immediately

Papua New Guinea's parliament sat today for the first time in four months, only to be immediately adjourned to tomorrow.

The speaker of the house, Job Pomat made the adjournment after deeming that parliament lacked a quorum.

Local media say that many MPs turned up after the adjournment.

How will government salary increases be funded in American Samoa

The American Samoa Senate is seeking a complete financial report on how much money will be spent on the government's salary increases issued by Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and effective from the beginning of July.

Funding for the salary hikes, which include an increase in government minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, remains unclear.

The territory's Senate and House of Representatives say the government is forecasting a $10.5 million shortfall in local revenues.

Senator Magalei Logovi'i says while the Fono is near the end of its review of the budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the government's salary increases are causing more questions than answers.

Magalei points out that the Fono didn't approve spending of any money for any salary increases in the 2021 fiscal year.