2 Years Left To Achieve Vanuatu’s ‘National Vision’

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Improvements made in economic, health sectors

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 7, 2013) – In 2006 the then government of Vanuatu set out Priorities and Action Agenda (PAA) committing to reform to achieve a "Just, Educated, Healthy and Wealthy Vanuatu."

Only two years remain to achieve the national vision that was targeted for in 2006 to 2015 towards the progress of achieving the national vision.

The recent review of 2010 to 2012 identified the necessity to address governance issues as a means to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Sector. The inclusion of "Just" fits this purpose. As such the National Vision had been revised to include "Just" so that it now read "A Just, Educated, Healthy and Wealthy Vanuatu."

The amended vision captures the spirit of the Comprehensive Reform Program (CRP) that was initiated in 1997 and subsequent national policies and national policy dialogues.

Looking back at 2006 vision, the PAA then anticipated that by 2015 Vanuatu will have achieved: a significant increase in real per capita incomes, along with steady growth in levels of employment, be among the leading countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in education, health, environmental management and other key socio-economic indicators.

The public sector reform will have raised standards of governance, levels of productivity in the civil service, and will have resulted in higher standards of services and managerial accountability through continuing structural reform allowing Vanuatu to established an effective enabling environment to sustain the significant private sector led growth, which it aims to achieve in output and employment.

In 2011, just halfway to 2015, implementing the PAA Vision has been partially achieved. Vanuatu has performed extremely well according to a PAA update in terms of economic growth in recent years and this has translated into significant increases in per capita incomes, according to the PAA report. Tourism and construction have driven this growth but it has been concentrated in a few urban centers of the country. However, agriculture, from which most of the population derives income, has not performed to its full potential. The share of agriculture, fishing and forestry in national income has declined reflecting the low growth in this sector and the much faster growth in urban centered tourism and construction, according to the PAA latest report.

Much effort by Government and development partners has been made in improving the standard of education and health. However, Vanuatu is not yet among the leading countries in the region in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

The eight MDGs cover poverty, education, health, gender equality, environmental sustainability and the development of a global partnership for development. In the latest Pacific regional MDG report, Vanuatu is achieving ‘mixed progress’ in reducing poverty, and improving maternal mortality, but is ‘on track’ for reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and developing a global partnership for development.

However, Vanuatu is ‘off track’ in promoting gender equality and in ensuring environmental sustainability.

There are many challenges in achieving all the MDGs by 2015. These include limited financial and human resources, and the high cost of providing services to rural areas. Service delivery remains a key challenge for the government at all levels, says the PAA latest report.

The PAA, following the CRP, emphasized the need to undertake structural reforms in the economy in order to provide and enabling environment to sustain private sector led growth. Much legislation was passed to put structural reforms into effect. But there has often been a lack of capacity to implement many of these reforms.

However, Vanuatu has been highly successful in reforming the aviation and telecommunication sectors.

This has brought about much needed completion, lower prices and more service, according to the PAA report.

Tourism has grown largely because of the reforms in the aviation sector. Despite these successes, there are still many hurdles and uncertainties for both domestic and foreign investors and the necessary infrastructure is not yet in place to reduce costs of bringing goods to domestic markets and for export markets.

Meanwhile, in a press conference organized by the Opposition at Club Vanuatu last week, former Prime Minister Sato Kilman, said he did not see why the new Prime Minister Moana Carcasses, should introduced a 100 Day Plan instead of implementing the existing PAA.

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