Vanuatu Leaders Engage In Face-To-Face Broadcast Dialogue

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PM Kilman, Opposition leader focus on alleged government corruption

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 23, 2012) – Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman begin his response during a political dialogue by citing irresponsible public servants and politicians who do not switch off lights and air conditions resulting in the government diverting and footing unnecessary costs.

Leader of Opposition Rialuth Serge Vohor was more frank: state ministers selling a piece of land here, the sale of a green space, others (illegally) boarding a yacht there.

The two national leaders were responding to questions on corruption during the Pacific Institute of Public Policy’s ongoing Face to Face series-this time a historical PM Face to Face and Opposition Face to Face at the Parliament nasara which was aired live on Radio Vanuatu, Television Blong Vanuatu and five provinces who get to ask a question each through the e-government network.

PM Kilman commented on the government’s position on fighting corruption, "When we talk about corruption, we do in broadest terms, for example a civil servant, a politician or someone working in a statutory body walking out of your office without switching the lights or air conditions resulting in the government spending on things it should not be spending money on," he said.

"We need every single [cent] that can go to make a difference. But when we do things irresponsibly it means money that was meant to be used for services is diverted."

Prime minster Kilman spoke generally and was not specific and on "bigger issues" said, "We must believe in something. In the government today there are many allegations of corrupt practices but one good thing is the existing government makes sure when there is an allegation that has a basis it is processed to Court.

"Many times in the past we have heard of cases which disappear at some point. But today if there is an allegation of corruption the government says there is a way of addressing it."

He said today there are one or two cases involving state ministers ending up in Court and people questioning why they are still in the government cabinet.

"Firstly I am glad and proud to say these ministers accepted it, because normally in the past, when you let one of your ministers go to Court, tomorrow he walks out the door on you," said the head of the Vanuatu government.

"The court deals with it and in my view that particular individual is punished, our Constitution does not allow for double punishment. It would be interesting to see the Court decision on one or two cases currently prosecuted under the Leadership Code.

"If the Court says you can do it then at least a precedent is set," Kilman said.

The Opposition Leader was then asked for his definition of corruption.

"Corruption is a big problem in Vanuatu today," said Leader of Opposition Serge Vohor.

"If it continues at the existing level, we fought for Independence but will become strangers in our own place. Corruption exists in every level from politicians to civil servants in society.

"It is important that government, every community, chiefs, churches, women leaders and youth in our society and others work together to fight and root out this disease which is rampant throughout our country today. That is why today you hear of a person selling a piece of land here, the sale of a green space, or some boarding a yacht there-corruption is everywhere."

The outspoken heavyweight politician said we have a Prime minister but the other ministers are also ‘small prime ministers’ in their ministries.

"Consider the Parliament session in 2011 when I put a motion, conveying the request from Efate chiefs requesting the Prime Minister as chief Livtunvanu -chiefs to chief that ousted former Speaker, Maxime Carlot Korman be recalled back into Parliament.

"The response was while the Prime minister as a chief agrees his ministers/MPs as smaller chiefs who make up the government numbers do not agree."

Vohor said this is a clear demonstration of instability in today.

"That is why today when some ministers were found on the yacht (Phocea) the Prime Minister cannot sack or discipline them because they are prime ministers in their ministries.

"Today when a Minister sells a land prime minister cannot sack him… or involve in rape cases…sale of diplomatic passports to foreigners… instability makes it impossible for the Prime minister to move and take action, so some dance while the people suffer."

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