VANUATU TO SCRAP TOP LEVEL POSITIONS

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By Fred Vurobaravu

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 31) – The government of Prime Minister Serge Vohor says it plans to scrap the position of Director General in all Ministries by January next year.

Government sources including the government’s spokesman, Kalvau Moli, have confirmed this decision, which would be reflected in the 2005 Appropriation Bill.

Mr Moli is currently on an overseas trip in Asia with the Prime Minister Vohor.

A source has revealed that the salaries of the nine director generals amounts to approximately VT 50 million (US$455,000) per year..

The government is anticipating saving this money so that it can channel it to social sectors like health and education.

Daily Post understands that the decision was taken to free up service delivery in the rural communities and their people.

However Daily Post understands that since the creation of the position, many politicians have expressed reservations over the extent of the powers of the DGs.

"The (post of) DGs have long been perceived as bottlenecks to the implementation of government policies," Mr Moli said.

The nine positions of Director General of Ministries were created under the reform program in 1998.

The occupants of the positions are regarded as the most qualified in their various areas of specialty. Daily Post understands the government plans to retire some of them including a number of Department Directors.

As a consequence the government may give more powers to the directors who could be entrusted to spearhead the implementation of government policies like in the years before CRP.

When asked if the 2005 budget will be increased, the government spokesperson said, "That is a reality and the government is working hard to achieve it."

He said the government is concerned about the costs that the changes would implicate especially with the increase of the number of the ministries from 13 to 17 but defended the government’s position on the eventual results.

He stated: "This government is new and it is bearing the deficit left behind by past governments and with the economic growth of around 3 %, it is looking at improving the country’s standings," Mr Moli explained.

The government will also be monitoring the performances of its business arms and statutory bodies. Mr Moli said they are expecting that as from next year onwards the companies should be turning to profitable operations so that they can contribute to the service delivery programs of the government.

Prime Minister Vohor has confidence in his Minister of Finance and Economic Management Moana Carcasses Kalosil to present a "good" budget.

Minister Carcasses has told the Parliament that he will do his best to contribute to the development plans of the government of the day but emphasised that the increase will depend on the funding capabilities.

Mr Moli confirmed that the government will be calling an extraordinary session of Parliament once the Prime Minister returns from Singapore to pass a Supplementary Appropriation Bill for 2004.

He confirmed the government is working on a bill to scrap the debit tax law passed in Parliament last year which came into effect on July 1 also last year. "The government will be introducing new taxes to fill in the gap," Moli said.

November 2, 2004

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

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