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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, July 6) – Will a revival of Vanuatu’s traditional economy achieve self-reliance?

The question of how best economic self-reliance can be achieved – if achievable – will be addressed from every angle by many leading ni-Vanuatu this week in a national summit at the chiefs' nakamal [traditional men’s house] in Port Vila.

The three main themes of the conference are food security, social security and environmental security.

These are expected to lead into a thorough examination of present policies in order to decide on their effectiveness and the appropriate changes needed.

There is a feeling on the part of some of the organisers that if Vanuatu is to develop as a peaceful society without poverty the traditional economy must be revived.

It is felt that a return to the traditional economy will result in less dependence on foreign aid and earn much more respect for the country's natural resources and environment.

The summit follows on from a workshop in April on traditional money banks, held at Uripiv, Malekula, through Unesco funding and with the assistance of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Credit Union League and Malvatumauri.

The programme starts tomorrow morning at the chiefs' nakamal in Port Vila with a welcome by chief Paul Tahi and an address by Prime Minister Ham Lini.

Guest speakers include Minister George Wells, Selwyn Garu, Ralph Regenvanu and Henry Vira. Leading ni-Vanuatu professionals are involved in all sessions.

Ralph Regenvanu said: "It is not in the cash-based economy, where the ni-Vanuatu will continue to need 'technical advice', classroom-based education and ongoing 'training' and still rarely be able to compete on an equal footing with almost any other nationality domestically, let alone abroad.

"Rather, ni-Vanuatu are only 'naturally' expert in fields relating to the customary use of resources to meet life's needs and the allocation of these resources in a manner that enhances social harmony and the well being of all members of society (and not just some members, as is the case with the capitalist economic model)."

July 7, 2005

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