16 May 2024

Pacific news in brief for May 16

5:28 pm on 16 May 2024
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Photo: NZ Customs Service

Papua New Guinea - cocaine

A 58-year-old PNG national has been arrested in connection with the attempted shipment of 289 kilograms of cocaine from Port Moresby to Australia in April.

The Post Courier newspaper reported the man will be charged with 'dealing with a controlled substance'.

PNG police said investigations were continuing, with further arrests expected.

Samoa - flu

Influenza cases in Samoa have been on the rise.

Samoa's Ministry of Health reported close to 1250 cases of influenza from April 29 to May 5.

About 1400 cases were reported from April 22 to 28.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the count is still below the alert threshold, despite a high number of infections.

The spokesperson has advised people with flu-like symptoms to practice preventative measures, like wearing masks.

US/Pacific - water

The Northern Marianas, Guam and American Samoa have received funding to help communities address stormwater and sewer infrastructure needs.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's grant funding is available to states to support projects in cities and towns that will strengthen their stormwater collection systems to be more resilient.

Bruno Pigott from the agency's water division said stormwater runoff is one of the biggest pollution challenges facing water ecosystems.

He said because it does not have to be paid back, this funding is especially effective in helping disadvantaged communities protect their waterways.

Cook Islands - wage

Minimum wage in Cook Islands will increase from NZ$9 an hour to NZ$9.50 on 1 July.

Internal Affairs minister Vainetutai Rose Toki Brown said the decision was approved by Cabinet.

The decision followed an annual review conducted by a minimum wage panel that included feedback from the Chamber of Commerce, Cook Islands Workers Association, and a community representative.

A government spokesperson said the panel considered the ongoing recovery from Covid-19, ongoing labour shortages, and inflation.

Palau - taxes

The European Union has removed Palau from its blacklist of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes, placing it on the grey list instead.

The Island Times reported Palau appeared on the blacklist in March for lacking tax transparency standards.

The EU blacklist serves as a tool to identify tax havens with systems that enable tax avoidance and distort fair competition.

Six jurisdictions remain on the EU blacklist, including American Samoa and Guam.

Guam - munitions

The US Navy is building six earth-covered, reinforced concrete and steel magazines to store munitions in Guam, ahead of the relocation of thousands of Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

The base serves as a "strategic hub" in the Indo-Pacific region for the US.

As Pacific Daily News reported, several sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places are inside the area expected to be impacted by construction, including "Armco type" magazines that were built shortly after US forces retook Guam in World War II.

Papua New Guinea - NZ relationship

Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko plans to increase PNG's trade and strengthen collaboration with New Zealand over the next few years.

The National newspaper reports Tkatchenko saying his meeting with New Zealand's foreign minister was successful and constructive.

He said they will be reviewing their statement of partnership, and increase and work together on defence cooperation.

Tkatchenko says New Zealand's recognised seasonal employer scheme would be supported to assist Papua New Guineans seeking employment abroad.

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