13 Sep 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

8:51 pm on 13 September 2021

Amatuku Island is one of nine atolls in Tuvalu Photo: Supplied/UNDP

Climate finance level inadequate so far, says Tuvalu

More international aid is needed to tackle climate change in small island states, according to Tuvalu's Finance Minister, Seve Paeniu.

As preparation for the COP26 climate Conference in Glasgow in November, the Pacific Islands Forum held a talanoa last week to assess whether climate finance effectiveness in the Pacific is on the right track,

In the past decade, $US2.2 billion dollars has been provided to the region for this purpose in the past decade.

Paeniu said Tuvalu was grateful for the $US36 million it had received through the Green Climate Fund, but that there was still a massive shortfall, saying Tuvalu needs more than $US300 million for coastal protection alone.

"It is quite clear that the majority of climate finance mobilised has not been translated into real benefits for vulnerable communities," he said.

"It is therefore imperative that a greater portion of climate finance is devoted to protecting the most vulnerable from the escalating impacts of climate change."

Kiribati tourism prepares for reopening

The Tourism Authority of Kiribati has welcomed the government's decision to reopen Kiribati national borders from January 2022.

Through its Tourism Restart Program, the Tourism Authority Kiribati has developed protocols for the 'new normal' and is currently undertaking Covid-19 safety training for all accommodation providers.

The Authority's CEO, Petero Manufolau confirmed that an industry-wide refresher training will be conducted in December 2021, prior to border reopening in January 2022.

In his announcement of the reopening plan, President Taneti Maamau urged the people of Kiribati who qualify for the Covid-19 vaccines to complete both their doses before the end of the year.

Samoa corrections officers dismissed after jailbreak

Three Samoa Corrections Service officers have been dismissed following an incident where an inmate of the Tanumalala Prison used a ladder to climb to freedom a week ago.

The Samoa Observer reports the unnamed officers were on duty when inmate Panapa Va'ai used a ladder to escape over an "anti climb" fence built at a cost of $2million tala.

Deputy Commissioner Leiataua Samuel Afamasaga confirmed that Acting Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Keti, decided to terminate the services of the Correction Officers in question who he had suspended soon after the escape was reported.

The prisoner however was caught and brought back to custody a few hours after he was reported missing.

The Minister of Police Faualo Harry Schuster told media last week that the prisoner was well known to the courts and that as a judge he had dealt with the long term inmate who is serving time for theft and burglary.

Fiji govt reiterates benefit only for jobless and vaccinated

Fiji's government has reminded workers on reduced hours seeking assistance that only jobless people can get the unemployment benefit.

The benefit was introduced to assist people who lost jobs because of the economic strains caused by the pandemic.

The Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says the government has fielded a lot of complaints from people applying for the benefit, but that they can't expect the benefit if they merely have reduced working hours.

The government requires people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to get the benefit.

PNG sovereign wealth fund process praised

Papua New Guinea's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says it's encouraged by Prime Minister James Marape's recent announcement of a clear policy on the payment of dividends from resource projects through to a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Marape made the announcement upon receiving a US$27-million dividend payment from the PNG state oil and gas company Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd last month.

The President of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Anthony Smaré, said this was a good sign that the government's commitment to ensuring economic returns from resource sector projects were being rightfully accounted for, properly invested and managed for the long term.

"The resource sector contributes approximately 28 percent annually to the PNG economy. While this has a massive indirect multiplier effect in the form of employment, crucial infrastructure and education and health support," Smaré said.

Meanwhile, Marape has announced the commencement of several new or renegotiated mining and LNG gas projects, which the government hopes will ensure PNG's economy builds back after several years of contraction.

PNG's Prime Minister James Marape in parliament, September 2021.

PNG's Prime Minister James Marape in parliament, September 2021. Photo: Malum Nalu

Austalia and Indonesia discuss joint military traning

Indonesian and Australian troops could soon be conducting joint training exercises on Australian soil.

The idea was discussed between the two nations' defence ministers, Australia's Peter Dutton and Indonesia's Prabowo Subianto, who met in Jakarta.

Australia has also offered places for Indonesia's best military personnel at Duntroon.

Dutton said the renewed defence cooperation arrangement would see Australia and Indonesia step up their joint training initiatives, and defence operational activities over the coming years.

Pacific netball team to feature in Queensland mini-series

A Pacific netball team is set to feature in a four-team mini-series in Queensland Australia.

It's been formed through a collaboration between Netball Queensland, Sunshine Coast Lightning, Queensland Suns and the PacificAus Sports partnership.

The 'Born to Shine Series' aims to provide players and coaches the opportunity to gain a tour-style experience in a top quality competition, with teams to play matches at the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast.

The Fiji Pearls' head coach, Jennzy Brazel, will coach the inaugural Pacific team featuring a range of Pasifika athletes including Fiji's Ema Mualevu and Matila Vocea who played with the Northern Rays throughout the year.

The first games are scheduled to kick-off tonight, with the Pacific team playing the Quensland Suns at 5pm (Queensland time) at the USC Stadium.