Vanuatu Market Power Cut Due To Outstanding Bill

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Port Vila council reportedly owes over $72,000 to Unelco

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 14, 2014) – A Vt7 million [US$72,538] outstanding electricity bill is the reason behind last Monday's power cut at the market house in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The Port Vila Municipal Council (PVMC) is still struggling financially, owing Vt7 million of outstanding electricity bills to Unelco, which is the reason behind the outage.

This was revealed by a very reliable source inside the municipality who said this continuous financial challenge has also resulted in four separate late paydays for municipality staff.

PVMC’s financial situation is said to have stemmed from irresponsible decisions made by past councils and administrators over the years. Every month the huge amount of at least Vt 400 million [US$4.1 million] is required to be paid to settle court claims.

Despite the long-standing challenges, our informant said the municipality has made it a priority to settle the electricity bills, as many of the market vendors are from the rural areas.

Due to this week’s power cut, the PVMC is now prepared to make a payment of Vt2 million [US$20,725] in February this year and aims to settle the remaining outstanding amounts by March.

Recently, the municipality had to obtain Vt5 million [US$51,813] from the national government in order for it to be able to meet staff salary payments.

"The council has had to pay up Vt400 million in court claims per month, fortunately some of those people understand the situation of the council," said our source.

The council had to pay an amount of Vt500,000 [US$5,181] in order for Unelco to reconnect the electricity to the market house.

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