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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Oct. 31) – Vanuatu Commissioner of Labor Department Lionel Kaluat is urging people to be optimistic about the Recognized Seasonal Employee Schemes (RSE) between the Vanuatu and New Zealand governments.

Commissioner Kaluat made the statement following the departure from Vanuatu of about 126 workers from Vanuatu to Otago, New Zealand, two weeks ago.

They were traveling on the same aircraft that flew Prime Minister Ham Lini and his delegation for the South Pacific Forum meeting in Tonga.

"I am optimistic about the scheme because it will bring major changes in the livelihoods and standards of living for ni-Vanuatu people, especially workers, once they return and go back to their islands and provinces," Kaluat stressed.

He said that the labor department is planning to hold awareness talks in provincial councils and with relevant authorities including health, immigration and police, in order to strengthen the services provided by those offices in the rural areas so that they can play an important role to facilitate the process of those wishing to go for laboring in New Zealand.

"Our objective is to also give access to people in the rural areas to be part of the scheme, and not concentrate only on Port Vila and Luganville.

We believe best workers are in the islands and to involve them in the scheme, will help boost economic development in the islands, and to address in one way the issue of urban drift.

In future we want a system where laborers from the islands will be recruited directly from their island or village, instead of coming to the towns to have their traveling arrangements prepared.

That way will control our people from coming to town looking for jobs. They will instead be recruited from their provinces, and once they are back in the country, they can go back and invest in their respective places," Kaluat stated.

Another lot of 106 Vanuatu workers will leave the country on November 14—bringing to 232 the number of seasonal workers from Vanuatu.

Each group has to spend seven months picking fruits in Otago.

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