VANUATU LEADER WARY OF SEASONAL WORK SCHEME

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Abbil worries work abroad threatens local workforce

By Godwin Ligo PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 12, 2010) - Vanuatu Head of State President Iolu Abbil cautioned the government that while he fully supported the RSE [Recognized Seasonal Employer] Scheme they must ensure that the scheme does not lead to a brain drain in the long run.

His Excellency President Abbil raised the concern during the RSE Forum held at Chiefs Nakamal Wednesday attended by workers who have been on the scheme and those intending to benefit from the scheme this year onward in the presence of the Minister of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand High Commissioner and officials from both countries.

[PIR editor’s note: The Recognized Seasonal Employer Scheme is a New Zealand program established in 2007 that allows citizens of Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and Kiribati to accept temporary seasonal work at New Zealand farms. Australia has a similar program that includes Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu and Kiribati. Workers are employed for up to seven months ]

The President said, "I am more concerned about the labour workforce in our country. It must not be left open ended and also to ensure that the scheme does not weaken the labor workforce at home," he said.

The President also stated that, "Vanuatu must not always depend on Foreign Aid and must move towards less dependency on foreign aid," the head of state cautioned.

President Abbil assured both governments that he is supportive of the scheme and is pleased to note that the first two years have proven successful.

He congratulated both governments and all those involved to make the scheme a reality and success for Vanuatu workers and reminded the workers of the Vanuatu Motto that states "Long God Yumi Stanap" or "In God we stand".

He said the workers must bear this always in their mind while working in New Zealand.

He remarked, "Do not leave our motto behind while you travel to New Zealand. You must always bear this with you and, this goes for all ni-Vanuatu traveling abroad be it government officials and diplomats or individual citizens of this country," the President said.

Before leaving the Forum the President wished all Vanuatu RSE Scheme workers now and in future every success.

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