5 Dec 2023

Pacific news in brief for 5 December

5:01 pm on 5 December 2023
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Photo: 123RF

Papua New Guinea - budget

A former Papua New Guinea (PNG) prime minister says the government's new budget is "reckless".

The National newspaper reports lalibu-Pangia MP Peter O'Neill, during the budget debate session last week, noted "a lack of planning into achieving the government's vision".

O'Neill was particularly scathing on the taxes imposed on fishery, forestry and unprocessed meat which, he said, would kill these industries.

Despite the opposition's concerns, the PNG Parliament passed the K27 billion budget last week.

Vanuatu - reshuffling

A cabinet reshuffle in Vanuatu has seen the ministers of land education replaced.

Chris Emmelee, who was the Minister of Lands, has been replaced by Joshua Pikioune, and Grace Shadrack has taken over the Minister of Education role from William Timakata.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai said the new ministers are from the Rural Development Party bloc.

The changes mean Salwai now has the support of 30 MPs in parliament.

During the last parliament session, Salwai only had the backing of 22 MPs.

Fiji - hearing

A hearing has been set down for next February in the appeal case against Fiji's former prime minister and suspended police commissioner.

Frank Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qihilo were acquitted in October on charges of perverting the course of justice and abuse of office, respectively.

FBC reports the appellant in this matter, which is the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has been given time to go through the trial records and also the liberty to amend the grounds of appeal in the next two weeks.

Tonga - notes

A new series of Tongan banknotes has been launched in commemoration of the official birthday of King Tupou I.

Prince Ata unveiled the new bank notes at a launch held by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga.

Matangi Tonga reports the $5 and $10 pa'anga denominations are Tonga's first polymer banknotes, promising better durability and longevity.

Designed under the authority of the Privy Council, the designs on the bank notes reflect Tonga's culture, history, and aspirations.

The designs include a whale breaching the ocean, aimed at promoting tourism, and the St George Government Building, "reflecting stability derived from good governance".

American Samoa - clams

Fivehundred giant clams have been brought to American Samoa as part of the launch of a clam farm.

The farm was the product of collaboration between the governments of American Samoa and Samoa through the Atoa o Samoa executive meetings.

A delegation from Samoa came to American Samoa and an 'ava ceremony was held.

The Samoa government officials' visit was a culmination of the ongoing collaboration between the two governments to support each other in several areas, including fisheries, aquaculture, mariculture, and capacity building.

The objective is to share knowledge and build capacity to support community livelihood.

Guam - lawsuit

The University of Guam (UOG) and its officials are facing a lawsuit alleging job discrimination.

The Pacific Daily News reports a woman has sued, claiming she was discriminated against on the basis of race, national origin and age, by not being hired for a new position.

The lawsuit claims UOG officials behaved unprofessionally and unfairly toward her during the interview and hiring process.

It was alleged the university hired or promoted "a younger, less qualified candidate from a different race and national origin".

The university's chief communications person said it denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

The woman has previously filed a claim against the university with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where a settlement agreement was reached - although she alleges the university violated it.