14 Sep 2022

Pacific news and sport in brief for September 14

10:49 am on 14 September 2022

Government cars being held in Vanuatu, visa system causes confusion among Samoans, and PNG MP dies

Public servants illegally holding on to government-owned cars

In Vanuatu, government political secretaries and public servants are holding on to their state-owned vehicles after the dissolution of Parliament.

The Daily Post reports the chair of the Public Service Commission, Simil Johnson, saying that under the law the staff have no right to continue to keep the vehicles.

Photo: Supplied

The drivers have been warned to return them.

Johnson said the law is clear that once Parliament is dissolved, Government vehicles need to be returned to await the election of the new government and the new officials to drive them.

There are exceptions, such as those officers who work on weekends and at night, especially those in border control.

This follows the confiscation of 50 government-registered vehicles last week, which were deemed not to be road worthy.

Vanuatu goes to the polls next month after a snap election was called by the government of Bob Loughman.

Aotearoa's visa system troubling many Samoans

Many Samoans are finding New Zealand's online visa process inconvenient and inaccessible.

Online applications for New Zealand visas were introduced in 2019, but Immigration New Zealand told the Samoa Observer the recent shift to full-time online service has been made to respond to the growing number of applicants, and for health and safety reasons.

The shift has been a challenge for many rural Samoans, who end up spending money on travel agencies to help them.

Immigration New Zealand's border and visa manager, Nicola Hogg, acknowledged the change may be difficult for people to adjust to at first.

She says Immigration NZ has a dedicated office mailbox and phone where applicants and their families can seek help.

She added more than 1300 visa applications from Samoan nationals have been received using the online submission platform.

Hogg said that online applications are already in place with other nations who receive large numbers of applications from Samoa.

Death of PNG politician

The newly re-elected Member for Wewak of the Papua New Guinea Parliament, Kevin Isifu, has died in Port Moresby.

Isifu had won a second term in the election in July, under the United Resources Party banner.

Broadcaster NBC reports he died from complications due to colon cancer.

After coming into parliament in 2017 he became the Minister for Inter-Government Relations in the O'Neill/Abel Government, and then was appointed to the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission.

It is the second death of an MP from the latest election, after the incumbent in North Bougainville, William Nakin, died during voting but still won the poll.

Washington food boost for American Samoa

The US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service is giving a $US10 million grant to increase nutrition benefits in American Samoa.

The extra money means current participants in the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program will receive $US277 US per month, for the year from October 1.

This is an increase of between $100 and $183 per month above current benefit levels.

For the lowest-income participants, American Samoa will also provide $208 per month to an additional household member, raising the total household benefit to $485 per month.

The US Department of Agriculture says this grant will help mitigate the lasting effects of the pandemic and stimulate the local food system.

The money is on top of the annual block grant the territory receives.

Head of State to represent Samoa at Queen's funeral

The Samoan Head of State, Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aleto'a Sualauvi, will represent Samoa at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Tuesday 20 September, Samoan time.

Tuimaleali'ifano and his wife travelled to Australia where they will join other Pacific leaders to fly to London with the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

They are accompanied by Secretary to Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, and the head of state aide-de-camp.

Futsal wins for NZ, New Caledonia and Vanuatu

New Zealand's futsal team has beaten the Fiji Football Association President's Five team, 5-1, in the opening match of the Oceania Futsal Cup.

Meanwhile, a hat-trick inside the final 10 minutes from Use Qenegeie saw New Caledonia beat the main Fiji team 4-2, having earlier trailed 2-0.

And three players all scored doubles to help Vanuatu to a 9-0 win over Tonga in their opening match at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

Futsal is a modified form of football played with five players per side on a smaller, typically indoor, pitch.