HARDLY a day goes by without news of some outstanding government debt emerging somewhere in Vanuatu. This week it’s a school with about 1000 students, the majority of whose parents haven’t paid last year’s school fees for their children. Typical and total mismanagement from both the school and the Education Ministry that has allowed it to reach this stage. This sort of poor government management is replicated in various ministries all over the country every year.
WW is certain that while the ink is still drying on the new government in 2020, there will be an act of some sort on the table relating to the introduction of income tax in Vanuatu – heralded as some sort of financial saviour. Never mind that the governments of the day since 1980 cannot collect what is lawfully theirs in full. Just turn the good ol’ blind eye to all of that, pretend it was not a monumental failure and find another way to raise revenue.
WW challenges the government to agree not to introduce income tax until it is collecting close to 100 per cent of the new VAT level (never mind what it was owed previously). If this was to happen then it would be clear that income tax was not necessary, except in the myopic view of the Australian government that is driving it relentlessly in a foreign land.
Of course income tax will have one major and almost sole target when it inevitably rears its ugly head – the expats who run proper businesses with books, records and bank accounts. The Chinese retailers generally run tills without paper rolls, keep no books nor open bank accounts. But WW predicts that, miraculously, they will be almost untouched.
WW has to be honest and spell this out because many hard working and loyal citizens, including an increasing number of better educated and future voting Ni Vans, are not happy with what they see with the government of the early days in 2019.
WW is most concerned to hear that Air Vanuatu is now being pushed to only issue four-month contracts to its expat pilots. WW understands this comes from serious government pressure and at a time where top pilots are in great demand all over the world, so it has the clear potential to decimate the pilot numbers and standards of our national carrier. WW fears this government seems to have a weird obsession for putting Ni Vans into cockpits, even if they are not fully qualified to be there.
Last year WW documented the case of a pilot from Pentecost who failed his instrument rating test three times. For the simple version, it means he is not qualified to fly in cloud or darkness.
WW is certain he does not want to be in any aircraft flown by that pilot. But his cause was pushed from on high to the point where all three tests were paid for by Air Van, which is unprecedented.
WW has been in hundreds of planes all over the globe and has no problem at all with properly qualified pilots so that where they come from and the colour of their skin is totally irrelevant.
WW happens to know that two of the best Air Van pilots, flying the ATRs at this stage, are Ni Van females who were trained correctly in New Zealand.
This is simply another case of anti-expat discrimination which is sadly growing across the board.
FURTHER examples come in the way of the Work Permit Act which has now been gazetted and the VIPA Act, which was the subject of a major meeting this week. In both cases the government showed its hand by having absolutely no consultation with the business community over two areas that are very much at the heart of how business is conducted in Vanuatu.
Now the business leaders, mainly through the VCCI, are having to scramble to see if they can have changes made to these acts before it is too late. Maybe they can salvage something because, as they stand, the two acts are just deplorable and are not even workable in the slightest degree. If they are not changed more expats will leave and others will be discouraged from coming to work and live here.
Some of the alarmists see this as a deliberate ploy by some in government, while others think it is just more examples of total incompetency at the highest levels. Either way it is a real mess that will take some major work to overcome.
BEFORE people go cutting their wrists, we have had a small victory with some of our worst roads. Both the section around Sama Sama store and the road from Devil’s Point Road to Mele Maat are vastly improved on what they were a few weeks ago.
WW is unclear whether what we are seeing now is the finished product or there will be a bitumen layer added. But well done anyway.
WW is hearing that the maritime authorities are pushing for their own full time search and rescue vessel which would be on call 24/7. It is a fine idea in principle, but as it would only be used three or four times a year, it would cost a fortune to have a permanent crew on stand-by and maintain the vessel as well. We have vessels now capable of carrying out such missions, so this is also folly, again that has not been thought through to a logical conclusion.
AND that’s Wilson’s Word