VANUATU OPPOSITION APPLAUDS COPRA SUBSIDIES

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Government’s announced release of funds will help families

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 27, 2009) – Finance Minister Sela Molisa’s decision to release Vt45 million [US$432, 700] copra subsidies so that families who depend on copra could send their children to school has been applauded by the Opposition.

The Ministry of Trade has yet to give the break down on how Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board, Vanuatu Coconut Products Limited and other copra export companies used Vt39 Million [US$379, 000] copra subsidies last year.

Opposition Leader MP Sato Kilman said while he realized that he however welcomed Minister Molisa’s decision to release the government grant because many copra producers in the islands depended on the subsidy so they may get good money for their copra.

The Opposition Leader has just completed a tour in one of Vanuatu’s top copra producing islands, Malekula.

The price of a ton copra has increased to Vt27,000 [US$260.00] Monday this week as a result of the government intervention.

Now that the Vt45 million is in circulation around copra producing islands the Opposition demands Minister Molisa guarantee the people of Vanuatu that audited financial reports previous copra subsidies made public.

"The taxpayers have a right to know how their government used their money," Mr. Kilman told Daily Post Tuesday.

The delay by the VCMB to produce an audited report on how it used Vt39 million copra subsidies in the last quarter of 2008 made the Ministry of Finance withheld the Vt45 million copra subsidies Parliament approved this year.

It released the grant only last week.

MP Kilman said there are serious allegations leveled at Air Vanuatu too and it is in the public interest that immediate and responsible government authorities respond to the allegations.

In other Opposition news, MP Kilman said he has information that Members of Parliament are being offered money to switch allegiance.

Offering money is bribery and no leader in the National Parliament is encouraged to do that because it is a criminal offence and it also violates the leadership code, Mr Kilman warned.

Meanwhile, the Daily Post has been told by sources close to the National United Party bloc that demanded Trades Minister James Bule reshuffled that it seemed unlikely their President would heed their call.

And this has angered the NUP majority MPs who have aligned with Luganville MP Speaker George Wells in their bid to get at the bottom of allegations leveled at NUP leaders.

The tug of war for numbers in both sides of the House has already begun because this year’s First Ordinary Session of Parliament opens on June 8.

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