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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, September 7) – The Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) President and Leader of Opposition Serge Vohor has expressed grave concerns over the handling of Air Vanuatu affairs and its recent move to borrow funds from Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF).

Vohor blamed the lack of investment direction of the current government as the real reason behind the near collapse of the national carrier.

"The Opposition had informed the media weeks ago about the possible borrowing from VNPF and is concerned that its members will again lose out," he said. "UMP has squared the blame at the feet of both the Minister of Public Utilities and the other two shareholders which includes the incumbent Prime Minister and his Finance Minister. UMP is also calling for a review of the Air/Vanuatu Vanair merger as it may have been too fast and will be recommending calls for new investors to enter the domestic aviation market.

"UMP still recommends the ATR42 as good size aircraft for Vanuatu but blames the Marketing section of Air Vanuatu for not doing enough for its passenger load. UMP’s tourism policy still focuses on "Beds and Bums" approach, however the Government’s commitment is not 100 percent and that also could be one reason we have been unable to off load visitors from the two main centre to the rural areas whereby a dollar could trickle directly back to the community.

"UMP has reviewed its policy towards Air Vanuatu and will be making a new tourism and aviation policy which will be endorsed by its party congress scheduled to be held on Santo this week," Vohor was quoted as saying.

The UMP president also called for the sacking of Air Vanuatu Chairman and the termination of the current CEO for incompetence.

September 11, 2006

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