To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

[P.O Box 13, Honiara, Solomon Islands/ Email: Tel:+677 7424025]

Welcome to the TARD Homepage...{Sore lea tale oe uri fula lamu mai la biu ne'e TARD}...TARD is To'abaita's rural voice on the web

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Corruption and poor governance disqualify Solomon Islanders from the Millenium Challenge Fund.

Solomon Islands is not yet qualified to receive funding from the Millennium Challenge Fund.

U-S ambassador to Solomon Islands Leslie Rowe says there are areas in which Solomon Islands needs to improve on before it is eligible get the funding.

She says Solomon Islands may not be able to receive any funding from the Millennium Fund this year and not in the near future unless certain areas addressed.

Ms Rowe says these areas include, corruption, democracy, governance and investing in people.

"Certain areas concerning corruption and democracy and governance and also investing in people. These are the area that the Millennium Challenge Corporation is evaluating".

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands' local economist warn that country's economy will be affected due to low import duty.

A local economist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, has warned the government that the recent reduction in import duties would have serious economic effects to the country.

"It is amazing to note that the import duties were reduced very early this year, it is unclear to me why the Government chose to do such a thing

"The Government has already signed up to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement, commonly known as PICTA, and part of the condition in PICTA is a reduction in import duties by an agreed percentage

"Currently the Solomon Islands has put its import duties at 10%, by way of comparison Fiji has its import duties at approximately 40%, if we were to reduce our rates to comply with PICTA we would be one of the biggest losers in the Pacific Region" said the local economist. "We might as well import goods for free"

The local economist went on to say that the government must re-look at its rates because not only is the Solomon Islands foregoing huge amounts of money, it is also setting itself up for huge disappointments when PICTA comes into effect.

"I think whoever was assigned to set up the import duty has a responsibility to explain to the public why he chose to peg the rate at 10%

"It is a huge risk and I must reiterate that the Solomon Islands will loose out if PICTA was implemented tomorrow, but as it is we still have time to reverse the situation"

Source: Solomontimes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Central Bank Governor commends SIG for SBD$10 million allocation to small business scheme

Governor of Solomon Islands Central Bank, Mr Rick Hou (pictured) has praised the government for its contribution towards the Small Loans Guarantee scheme with the provision of SBD$10 Million.

He says the scheme has been talked about within Government circles for close to 20 years now and although attempts have been made in the past, the current arrangement is the most feasible.

Mr Hou says this includes the option for the participating banks to be part of the scheme and the provision of 10-million dollars to back the guarantee scheme.

He says additional features include a minimum amount of SBD$50-thousand dollars which is ten times more than the previous one and a maximum of one million dollars which is four times more than the old scheme.

He says the scheme will also guarantee 80 percent of the unsecured portion of the loan while the remaining 20 percent will be a trust between the participating banks and the applicant. Mr Hou says that under the new scheme, there will be no re-financing of the loan and no interest rate subsidy.

He says the decision whether or not a loan application will be financed solely lies on the participating banks, not the Central Bank or the government, which ensures that only feasible business plans get funded.

Source: Solomon Times

President of Solomons Bar Association to challenge last week's police raid on his office

The Solomon Islands High Court will this week hear a case from the president of the country's bar association, challenging the legality of a police raid on his office last week.

Ranjid Hewagema has already asked the court to keep items, seized by police from his office, sealed until the legal challenge is ruled on by the court.

At the weekend, High Court Judge Edwin Goldborough adjourned the case to Wednesday, allowing police to seek legal counsel.

He also ruled that all seized items be kept secure in court premises until the legal challenge is heard.

Source: Radio Australia

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Small and Medium Enterprises Council (SMEC) to open its first business development centre in Auki.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Council (SMEC) will open its first small business development centre next month. SMEC technical director Leliana Firisua said the small business development centre (SBDC) is one of SMEC’s short-term strategy for a network of SBDCs throughout the country.

Mr Firisua said already they have secured an office in Auki - making Malaita Province the first province to have a SBDC. The Malaita SBDC will be opened next month after the National Trade Show and Independence celebrations.

Meanwhile, Mr Firisua is currently attending a four-week training and study attachment in Israel. This study runs through the structure of SME system in Israel starting with visits to the Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (ISMEA) which is the Central SME support system in Israel followed by studies and attachments to a line of 24 SBDCs that link to ISMEA plus visits to the SME businesses throughout Israel both individual SME’s to cooperative Kibbutz that are widespread throughout the country.

According to Mr. Firisua SMEC is entering in to a new relationship with ISMEA and with Jerusalem SBDC to allow the council to immediately translate the Israel experience and system Solomon Islands. He said the SME systems in Israel can be adopted easily in Solomon Islands.

This can include, rural based SME industrial parks, hi-tech industrial parks, and industrial education centres (pre-schools, primary and secondary school pupils) which is called the Think Industry.

The technical director said Solomon Islands SME development and SME challenges to contribute effectively to economic development in the Country is similar to Israel.
“The Israel Government is very supportive to our council’s search for a perfect SME system and as a Solomon Islander I was truly honour when I as an ordinary citizen was met by the Israel Ambassador to Solomon Islands Dr. Michael Ronen at the Ben Gurion International Airport and follow up meeting in Jerusalem with the Deputy Director of the Asia Pacific section Hagai Shagrir,” Mr Firisua said.

Mr Firisua said Mr Shagrir had informed him that Israel appreciated very much Solomon Islands Government’s support of Israel in Geneva recently on a World Trade Organisation (WTO) resolution in which our country stood with Israel with another six Israel friendly nations.

All the other pacific island nations abstained.“At the council we believe this support by the Sogavare Government to the people and state of Israel is not only biblical but a divine step forward to developing a strong trade relationship with the State of Israel,” the technical director said. Mr Firisua will finalise linkages with the relevant SME organisations in Israel this week and returns to the country on June 24.

Source: Solomon star newspaper.

Solomon Islands must develop proactive approaches towards global trade if the country wants to see improved national development: Oti.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, External Trade and Immigration Patterson Oti says Solomon Islands must develop proactive approaches towards global trade if the country wants to see improved national development.

Speaking at the opening of a two-days consultation workshop on the Integrated Framework I-F on trade capacity building yesterday, Mr Oti said Solomon Islands regardless of its economic status is not immune to the impact of globalization.

“We need to respond to the challenges of adapting policies and institutions to the evolving trade regime. We cannot just step aside and let the rest of the world determine our position in global trade and in the global market”.

Mr Oti said Solomon Islands must be proactive to seize such opportunities and take ownership over the direction of its own development process.

Meanwhile, Minister Oti says the Integrated Framework is crucial in harmonizing trade between Least Developed Countries and donor partners.

The Trade Integrated Framework was established by the World Trade Organisation to enhance trade capacity building for least developed countries, L-D-Cs.

Mr Oti says current trade between developed and least developed countries created some inconsistencies which points to a need for some form of harmonization.

“The I-F process therefore aims to bring trade and trade-related activities into the center of our sustainable development strategy – hence the need to enhance and facilitate the coordination of donors input into this process.”

The Minister says the most obvious benefit of the I-F process is the integration of donors’ efforts in delivering trade and trade-related assistance.

Source: SIBC

Monday, June 18, 2007

Solomon Islands take on Israel's setup

Technical Director of the Small and Medium Enterprises Council of Solomon Islands,SMEC, Leliana Firisua is currently undertaking a four weeks training studies in Israel.

Mr Firisua is studying the Public Support Systems for SME's in Israel.

Since May 2007, Mr. Firisua has been the structure of SME system in Israel starting with visits to the Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority which is the Central SME support system in Israel followed by studies and attachments to a line of Small Business Development Centres .

Solomon Islands Small and Medium Enterprises Council is entering into a new relationship with Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority to allow the Council to immediately translate the Israel experience and system in Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands' Small and Medium Enterprises Council's work programme this year inline with its short term strategy is to strengthen the Council's capacity as a Central SME body to establish networks of Small Business Development throughout the Country beginning with an office in Auki, Malaita Province.

The Council hopes to open up its Auki Office next month after the trade show.

Source: SIBC

One Laptop per Child pilot project promote in Solomon Islands

The South Pacific Community, SPC is promoting a pilot project in the Solomon Islands known as "One Laptop per Child", OLPC, linked to the existing Ministry of Education Distance Learning Centres Project being implemented by the People First Network.

The project will test a locally-designed model for the distribution and use of OLPC laptops.

In anticipation of this, the Ministry has been given a "B2" prototype unit that was displayed at the opening of Vuranimala Distance Learning Centre with children demonstrating the features.

The laptop was also a hit when shown to children at Henua School, in Rennell recently.

David Leemingin who is in-charge of the Distance Learning Centres Project says the project hopes Solomon Islands children will soon show the region how the OLPC laptops can provide them with a window to the world and marvelous new ways of learning, both in and outside the classroom.

The laptops used in the project are low cost, require low power and have high accessibility.

They are also very robust, require limited technical support and training and are therefore suitable for rural areas.

They also have features that encourage collaboration and are expected to improve many kinds of literacy including writing and numerical skills, information literacy and use of technology.

Source: SIBC

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Howard urged Fiji's neighbours in the South Pacific to apply diplomatic pressure for a return to democracy following Fiji's explusion of Green

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has called on Pacific nations to press for the removal of Fiji's interim regime, following talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

The two leaders met in Sydney yesterday amid an escalating diplomatic crisis sparked by the expulsion of New Zealand's high commissioner from Suva.

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said Thursday he was expelling the envoy, Michael Green, for interfering in Fiji's domestic affairs.

The interim regime however remains mum on the specifics surrounding Green's expulsion.

Describing Bainimarama's government as "an undemocratic, arbitrary, pre-emptive regime," Howard urged Fiji's neighbours in the South Pacific to apply diplomatic pressure for a return to democracy.

"At every point of contact, Fiji has to be reminded that its regime is undemocratic -- that friendly countries, as well as those that have a more formal relationship with Fiji, do not approve of what has happened," he said.

He said all nations wanted "clear evidence" that Fiji was willing to return to democracy as soon as possible.

Clark said she had received "tremendous solidarity" from Australia over the issue, which she said cast doubt on Fiji's seriousness about returning to democratic government.

Both New Zealand and Australia have been vocal critics of Fiji's military regime since Bainimarama toppled the elected government in a bloodless coup in December last year.

They have imposed sanctions on the military government -- including travel bans against regime officials -- and New Zealand plans to expand these following the expulsion.

Clark described the move against the ambassador as totally unacceptable and an "absolute disgrace", saying Green had done nothing except express the New Zealand government's position on the coup.

The New Zealand prime minister said Fiji had tried to use Green as a bargaining chip and suggested he could stay if New Zealand dropped the travel bans on regime officials and the military.

She described the offer as "delusional, risible and bizarre."

New Zealand's ministry of foreign affairs on Friday warned New Zealanders in Fiji to exercise caution following the deterioration in relations between the two countries.

But Bainimarama said that as far as he was concerned, diplomatic relations with New Zealand remained intact.

"There is no severance of relationship here -- it's only Mr Green as a person, given his persistent interference in Fiji's domestic affairs," he said in a statement.

Source: Fijilive

Friday, June 15, 2007

SIG/RAMSI/Forum complete 2nd meeting of enhanched consultative mechanism

The Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) have agreed to continue dialogue on issues that impact on the operations of RAMSI including any review of the Facilitation of the International Assistance (FIA) Act which set up the Mission in 2003.

This was one of the key outcomes of the 2nd Meeting of the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism between Solomon Islands Government, RAMSI and the Pacific Islands Forum held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, today 14th June 2007.

The Solomon Islands delegation informed the meeting that the Government plans to debate amendments to the certain clauses of the FIA Act in the sitting of Parliament in July despite the current review being undertaken by the Forum appointed RAMSI Review Taskforce.

The meeting agreed both SIG and RAMSI should continue to have dialogue on issues concerning any amendments that the government is proposing to the Act and to impress upon the Government that any amendments to the Act should be delayed until after the report of the RAMSI Review Task Force is produced.

On Immigration and Visa Exemptions for RAMSI personnel, the meeting noted that considerable progress has been made since the issue was discussed at the first consultation meeting last February but urge the SIG and RAMSI to continue dialogue over some of the outstanding concerns that continue to arise on the issue.

Both sides also agreed to consider ways of improving the reporting process that exists on RAMSI activities to both the Solomon Islands Government and the rest of the Pacific Islands Forum members. And that there should be more exchange of information between RAMSI, SIG and the Forum.

“I am very pleased with the discussions on the various issues on the agenda of the meeting today as they were frank and both sides reached some concrete decisions on the way forward on some of the issues that were causing some concerns in the partnership,” Parai Tamei, Chair of the Meeting and Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Solomon Islands said

“This enhanced consultative mechanism is proving to be very constructive in the partnership between SIG and RAMSI. This could only continue to improve with the appointment of the Special Envoy to RAMSI aimed at improving communication between SIG and RAMSI,” says John Roughan, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Leader of the Solomon Islands delegation to the meeting.

“RAMSI welcomes the exchanges during these consultations as they have been successful in moving forward outstanding issues of concern to both parties which if left unattended have the capacity to undermine the current strong partnership,” Tim George, Special Coordinator of RAMSI said.

Other agenda items discussed included updates from RAMSI on the Mission’s activities including Capacity Development, the draft Medium Term Strategy, and the Financial Management Support Programme. The meeting also received an update on the Forum RAMSI Review as well as briefings from the SIG Special Envoy to RAMSI, Mr Michael Maina and the newly appointed Forum Permanent Representative to Solomon Islands, Dr Lesi Korovavala. The meeting welcomed both appointments as a positive step forward.

The Pacific Islands Forum was represented at the meeting by senior officials from Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tonga.

Source: PIFS

Papua New Guinea term Australia's Hanson's comment as descriminating

There has been an angry reaction in Papua New Guinea to comments made by Australia's Pauline Hanson.

Ms Hanson founded the One Nation political party 11 years ago and in her maiden speech to parliament divided the nation with her comments that Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians.

Ms Hanson has now accused the Australian government of putting Australians at risk by allowing Papua New Guineans infected with HIV/AIDS and TB into the country.

Our correspondent in PNG, Steve Marshall, says Ms Hanson has called for an overhaul of the 1985 Torres Strait Treaty which allows free movement for traditional people between Australia and PNG.

PNG opposition leader, Peter O'Neill, says Ms Hanson is racist.

"It is a racist comment by a racist person and that we in this country are disappointed," he said.

Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu says the former One Nation leader is ill-informed.

"Pauline Hanson should come up and visit Papua New Guinea," she said.

"I'd be very willing to have her and take her around and discuss some of the very issues that we are trying to address in Papua New Guinea."

HIV and TB are among PNG's biggest killers.

Source: Radio Australia

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fiji expels NZ High Commissioner

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Green, has been declared persona non grata, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has just confirmed. reports New Zealand Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee went into a special closed session to hear the news from Peters, who is now briefing reporters.

Peters says the New Zealand Government deplores this action and expelling diplomats is not the way for neighbours to conduct their relationship.

He says there will undoubtedly be consequences for Fiji, as this action will be viewed very seriously not only by New Zealand, but by Fiji’s other international partners including Pacific Island nations, Australia, the United States, and the European Union."

Source: Fijilive

Solomon Islands' men's national soccer team drawn with group B.

Solomon Islands have been drawn in Group B of the men's football tournament at the 13th South Pacific Games in Samoa.

The other teams in the group are: Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.

Group A in the tournament consists of Fiji, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Tuvalu.
The Oceania Football Confederation, OFC, made the draw in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday.

Meanwhile, the top three teams at the 13th South Pacific Games - Samoa 2007 will progress to Stage Two where they will face New Zealand in a home and away round robin group format.

The winner of the Stage Two group will face the 5th placed team in the Asian Football Confederation in a home and away playoff with the winner sealing a spot at the FIFA World Cup - South Africa 2010.

Source: SIBC

Sogavare announce 2.8 million dollars for Constitutional Congress.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare today announced a 2.8 million dollar funding for the work of the Constitutional Congress to administer issues surrounding the country’s Draft Federal Constitution.

Mr Sogavare made the announcement when launching the Constitutional Congress in Honiara today.

He said the government will fund the whole process which is expected to be completed by October 2008.

“We budgeted 2.8 million dollars for the work of the congress and it will be funded entirely by the SI government,” he said.

The Congress will comprise 32 members representing the provinces, Honiara city and of individual Solomon Islanders possessing special qualities to finalise this important reform.

The Congress will be assisted by a group of eminent Solomon Islanders who in their own ways have contributed to the social, economic and political development of the country as well as people having technical expertise.

“Membership of the congress is gender balanced and youths will be represented,” he said. “A significant feature of this process was for the community and not just the politicians to take responsibility for the reform programme and address the content of a new constitution”.

He said the role of the government is to facilitate the process but the control and direction of the constitution making process at this time belongs to the communities and people of Solomon Islands.

Since Independence, successive governments have undertaken programs to reform the national constitution and despite very clear recommendations arising from numerous constitutional reviews, no government has however, succeeded to reform the constitution.

The government believed that the cessation of the civil conflict in October 2000 was secured in part on an assurance in the Townsville Peace Agreement that the government would pursue reform on the national constitution.

The principle strategic theme of the Sogavare-led government when coming into power in 2006 is constitutional reform.

Mr Sogavare said the Constitutional Congress establishes the operational framework in which constitutional reform will be achieved.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dr. Aqorau urges islands: Unite for fish benefits

DR Transform Aqorau has called on Pacific Islands countries to work together and try to get more benefits from their fish stocks.

In an interview with Islands Business magazine, the new deputy director of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) said Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) were only getting returns of around US$80 million a year out of their US$800 million fish resource.
“We are custodians of a major resource and if we can translate that into economic terms, we can do well,” he told Islands Business.

Aqorau is the first Pacific and Solomon Islander to hold the post which previously was only held by non-Pacific Islanders. He described his new job as one that presented a “big challenge and big responsibility”, as he is compelled to maintain the high standards set by his predecessors.

A specialist in international fisheries laws, Dr Aqorau was seconded to FFA in 1991 as a legal officer, went on to join the Solomon Islands Government and then the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Fiji before returning to FFA as its legal counsel.

He said: “FFA’s work is to try an ensure the only renewable natural resource we have is not over-exploited and that we develop it so we benefit economically and financially-through employment and foreign exchange.

"We are sharing it with some of the most powerful countries in the world because they are interested in this resource.”He said Pacific Islands countries are dealing with rich and powerful countries like the United States, China, Japan and Korea, who are endowed with manpower and finances, which island countries don’t have.

“Our job at FFA is to go out and work with PICs so that they have the legislation and policies in place to help them when they negotiate with these big countries.
“Because it’s a shared resource and we are not powerful enough, we really need to work together and cooperate.”

Dr Aqorau said FFA was trying to look at innovative ways to manage the resources as they were presently being managed through foreign access agreements.
Illegal fishing, he added, was a big problem in the Pacific and FFA is trying to develop a project to calculate the percentage of illegal fishing going on in Pacific waters.

“We are working on a system that will show a satellite image of all the boats in the area and compare that with the image of registered boats. Unreported fishing is also a problem and these are licensed fishing boats that don’t comply by providing reports or comply with regulations,” Dr Aqorau said.

Source: Solomon star

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Solomon Islands' controversial Police Commissioner vows to tackle corruption within police

Police Commissioner Khan stated in an interview with Fijilive that he is ready to take up the challenge in leading the Solomon Islands Police Force.
"Everything has been sorted and I am ready to take up my job in the Solomon Islands which will commence on Monday," he said.

"All the bickering about my appointment has been sorted out with the proper authorities and I can confirm that there were a few documentations that were not present during my appointment that has caused all this strife."

Khan said that his first priority is to look at the Solomon Islands Police Force internally. "The Solomon Islands is not like Fiji where crime rate is so high, the problem they are currently facing lies within the force where corruption is rife and I intend to clean that up first."

Khan arrived in the country on Saturday and is ready to begin on Monday.

Source: Solomon times

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Malaita Premier encourage Solomon Islanders to participate in country's 29th Independence Anniversary celebration in his provincial capital, Auki.

Malaita Premier Richard Na’amo Irosaea encourages Solomon Islanders to participate in this year’s 29th Independence Anniversary celebrations in Auki, Malaita province.

Premier Na’amo made the invitation during a meeting with the National Independence Committee in Honiara yesterday.

Malaita is the first province to host the national independence celebration and Premier Na’amo said his people welcome their fellow citizens to celebrate together in the spirit of unity.

The Government Communications Unit quotes Mr Irosaea as saying Malaita province is preparing all sectors to ensure visitors feel the charm of his province during the national event.

The Premier and his Provincial Secretary both brushed aside rumours of security threats reported earlier in the media.

Premier Irosaea said Auki police have already started an alcohol free campaign to discourage people from producing illegal alcohol such as Kwaso and other related drugs.

The Premier said he is confident in the local police, adding they could handle any security problems with professionalism.

Meanwhile, Provincial Secretary Harold Leka said all preparations involving different sectors are well underway as Auki braces itself for the national event.

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands' Prime minister reveals Opposition's evil strategy to topple his ruling government.

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday shows the $50,000 he says was used to try to bribe one of his ministers on Wednesday. Mr Sogavare alleged that the payment was secretly delivered to the minister by an agent of the Leader of Opposition. It was part of a strategy to get at least six more Government ministers to switch sides, the Prime Minister said.

But Opposition Leader Fred Fono last night denied any knowledge of the alleged bribery. It was news to him, he said, when the Solomon Star contacted him. Mr Fono said he will investigate and then make a statement today. Mr Sogavare said the money was part of an evil strategy by the Opposition to topple his Government. Mr Sogavare, appearing lost for words, described the alleged bribery bid as disgusting. “There’s no place for bribery,” an angry Mr Sogavare said.

A senior Government minister told Solomon Star that the revelation of the bribery showed who actually used money during the election of prime minister last year. Mr Sogavare said he believes that the revelation shows that “God is with us”. It was alleged that the Opposition agent delivered the money to the minister on Wednesday afternoon.

The intention was to allegedly influence six other ministers in return for financial reward. But the minister instead surrendered the money to him, the Prime Minister said. It was now subject to Police investigation. Mr Sogavare said he was bitterly disappointed with the leadership style of some national leaders. “Any sensible leader should stop harassing the government with such evil strategies,” Mr Sogavare told journalists in a late afternoon press conference.

He warned that if it was found that foreigners were behind the bribery allegation then they will be deported. But if they are locals their right place is Rove Prison, he said. Mr Sogavare said he could not rule out financial backing from foreign sources to the Opposition as some don’t like his Government.

Source: Solomon star

Friday, June 08, 2007

Transparency International Solomon Islands positive about proposed meeting with PM

A spokesperson for Transparency Solomon Islands says civil society groups and the prime minister should approach any meeting between the two sides with an open mind.

Joses Tuhanuku was speaking after prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, issued an invitation to civil society groups to discuss issues with him directly.

The groups are opposed to plans to appoint an Australianl lawyer, Julian Moti, as the Attorney-General and want the government to rescind the appointment of the new Police Commissioner, Jahir Khan of Fiji.

Mr Tuhanuku says both sides should hold a meeting without preconditions and see if something can be achieved.

“The prime minister is quite adamant that nothing will force him to change his mind and I would say that the position of the civil society groups remains the same. Having said that, I think it’s a good thing for the civil society groups to meet the prime minister if he’s prepared to meet us to discuss the issue.”

Mr Tuhanuku says civil society groups are meeting shortly to decide whether to accept the invitation.

Source: RNZI

Sogavare announces parliamentary secretary posts while still hunting for other MPs to fill remaining seats

Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced the appointment of several MPs for the parliamentary secretaries posts.

Mr Sogavare has appointed Northwest Choiseul MP Clement Kengava as the Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

The MP for Gao Bogutu, Samuel Manetoali is the Parliamentary Secretary for downstream processing, whilst Southeast Vella La Vella MP Trevor Olavae takes on the Parliamentary Secretary position for the review of CEMA.

Mr Sogavare said he is still looking for MPs who can take up the remaining positions.

Meanwhile, Sogavare has dismissed rival claims that he established parliamentary secretary posts to entice Opposition MPs to join government.

Mr Sogavare said the aim of offering posts to parliamentarians is done for good reasons. He urge the opposition to leave politics aside from the process.

Last week Opposition spokesperson Edward Huni’ehu accused the Prime Minister of trying to weaken the opposition so that he remained in power. Huni’ehu said creating 10 parliamentary secretary positions is a ploy to lure opposition members.

But Mr Sogavare said as a democratically elected government, it can do whatever it can to advance its policies.

Source: SIBC

Solomons PM says seven ministers targeted with cash bribes to join opposition

Solomon Islands' Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare says seven of his ministers have been targeted with cash bribes to desert the government.

Mr Sogavare on Wednesday evening showed local journalists SBD$50,000 in cash received by one of the ministers.

Mr Sogavare says the money, in used 50 dollar notes was handed to a senior government minister by an alleged representative of the parliamentary opposition.

The Prime Minister says a sworn statement was taken from the Minister and the money will be handed over to the Solomon Islands police today.

"I'm really disappointed with what has happened by supposed leaders of this country involving very dirty strategies to work on a scheme to over throw the grand coalition for Change Government," he said.

Opposition Leader Fred Fono has denied any involvement. He says he will comment on the accusations today.

Source: Radio Australia

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Three Solomons atheletes bound for international meets to warm up for Samoa Games

The South Pacific Games is around the corner and Athletic Solomons is going to be represented in two international competition prior to the Samoa Meet.

The federation is sending three athletes and two officials for two international meet.

Jenny Keni and Chris Walasi will be featuring in the World Championship in Osaka while Adison Alfred will be carrying the Nations banner in Czechoslovakia. The trio will be accompanied by James Iroga and Martin Rara.

However, the world youth will be the first outing for Athletic Solomons this year in the international scene before the Samoa Pacific Games.

Source: Athletic Solomons

Malaita seeks to strike sister relationship with Taiwan's Pengu County

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said discussions are well underway for the establishment of a sister relationship between the Malaitan Provincial Government and Taiwan’s Pengu County.

Mr Sogavare told journalists at his weekly Press conference in Honiara yesterday that he has established the link for the sister relationship during his recent state visit to Taiwan.

The Prime Minister said he met with the governor of the Pengu County and proposed to him the idea of establishing a sister relationship with a Solomon Islands Province and he received a positive response.

Pengu is an off-shore island county that is well developed in tourism.

Mr Sogavare said he had established communication with the Premier of Malaita Province, Richard Na’amo about the matter and their discussions were well advanced.

Source: SIBC

Solomons PM firm on parliamentary secretary appointments

By George Herming

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday maintained that the appointment of parliamentary positions for Parliament Members to advance important government policies is done within the bounds of the national constitution.

Mr Sogavare was responding to earlier media statements by several groups including the speaker of parliament claiming the appointments were unconstitutional.

He said decisions made by the government are always agreed upon within the bounds of the law and the constitution of the country.

“I want to assure the nation and the media that this government will not do anything unless we are sure that what we are doing is legal and constitutional,” he said.

The Prime Minister explained that the confusion that arises in light of the appointments was the fact that people fail to understand the incorporation of the Prime Minister’s authority to establish posts and make appointments with the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission which sets out terms and conditions for appointees.

“I had sought legal advice on the matter for the appointment and in fact the general provision of section 44 of the constitution allows the Prime Minister to establish posts and assigned them with responsibilities.

“Of course, in the interest of transparency and accountability we incorporate these appointments into the parliamentary entitlements regulation which sets out what these people are going to do and also the level of remuneration they are going to receive,” Mr Sogavare said.

He said there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about the appointments of parliamentary secretaries and encouraged people who disagree with government decisions to challenge them in the country’s courts.

“As far as the government is concerned, we are doing things under the law in compliance with the constitution.

“But of course there is always the court to resort to if people are aggrieved with the decisions of the government,” he said.

Source: GCU

Sogavare says proposed protest march by civil society groups wont change decision on Moti and Khan

By George Herming

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday said the planned peaceful march by certain groups in protest against the appointment of Julian Moti and Police Commissioner Jahir Khan will not have any impact on the decision to appoint the two men.

Last week groups including anti-corruption body, Transparency Solomon Islands and Civil Society groups announced a proposed peaceful march to protest the appointments with hopes to force Mr Sogavare to rescind them.

But Mr Sogavare boldly welcomed any protests and petitions saying nothing will change his government’s decision.

“This is a democratic country and we welcome moves like that,” he said. “But I would like to make it clear that no amount of march would make the point clear to the government”.

He said the government hugely respects the laws of the country and never at any time broke them for specific interests.

“These are decisions that the government has taken, and taken them lawfully,” he said. Never yet have we erred in law in all the decisions that we’re taking”.

Mr Sogavare made reference to earlier court rulings in favour of government decisions as a classic example of his government’s respect for the laws of the country.

“The courts have upheld a number of decisions that we took on a number of issues,” he said. “So when it comes to good governance our minds are clear”.

“I see compliance with rules and laws as an important step in compliance with the principles of good governance,” he said.

The Prime Minister openly invited groups and individuals who disagree with government decisions to hold dialogue with his government to sort out differences.

“My office is open and never yet this people have come to discuss these issues with me,” he said. “We have answers to a lot of questions that these people have and we are willing to discuss these issues”.

“I have made this open invitation to the people concerned to come forward and discuss these issues with us,” Mr Sogavare said.

Source: GCU

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NOCSI warns Samoa bound athletes to abstain from betel nut consumption as it contains banned substance

The Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority reports that Arecoline, the active ingredient in betel nut, is prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code 20076 Prohibited List.
The arecoline stimulant is a class1 A drug which is similar to steroids. Arecoline is amongst the prohibited drugs substances for this year's South Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. The most abundant active ingredient of the betel nut is arecoline.

The Justification Committee of the National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands has therefore enforced a new rule that consumption or chewing of betel nut is prohibited by athletes bound for the SPG in Apia, Samoa. NOCSI has formally endorsed the new rule that all athletes representing the 20 federations must abstain from chewing betel nut prior to the SPG in Apia, Samoa.

"This is not about religion, discipline or image but the anti-doping tests in Samoa will reveal this drug and the duration of time of intake is a risk. Tests will be random and I will also head the medical team for the games", says Chairman for the Justification Committee Dr. Munamua. "Even if betal nut was consumed 3 weeks before the games, tests will show the arecoline drug, which will mean immediate expulsion from the games"

"The last mini games in Palau the issue were not taken too seriously. But recently a critical debate on the subject concerning drug doping for this year's SPG in Samoa, arecoline was highlighted as an unwanted drug substance. For us it's a new thing and athletes must be aware", says Dr. Munamua.

Source: Solomon Times

Solomons national soccer squad starts preparation for Samoa Pacific Games

The Solomon Islands national senior men's soccer squad has started preparations for the Pacific Games in Samoa.

Already the team management is putting together programme for the squad of about forty players to abide by.

Team Manager Atu Balekana says it is important that those selected are committed to their training programme.

The extended squad are; Felix Ray, Fred Hale, Gideon Omokirio, Mahlon Houkarawa, George Suri, Samson Takayama, Richard Anisua, David Taro, Tome Faisi, Bata Furai, George Lui, Mostyn Beui, Stanley Waita, Jack Samani, Alick Maemae, James Naka, Henry Fa'arodo Jr. Judd Molea, Abraham Iniga, Commins Menapi, Benjamin Totori, John Morgan, Paul Huia, Terry Oiaka, Jacob Pekau, Eddie Ngaitini, Joses Nawo, Lawrence Diau, Benjamin Mela, Joe Luwi, Willie Sade, John Iani, Godwin Bebeu, Brian Feni, Duddley Seda, George Aba, Arnold Keni, Tinoni Ratu and Berry Qalokale.

Source: SIFF

Four countries confirm their participation in 2007 OFC beach soccer qualifiers

Four countries have confirmed their participation in the OFC beach soccer championship in New Zealand between July 7 and 8, 2007.

They are defending champion Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tahiti and hosts New Zealand.

The new dates will suit the three island nations as some of the players in their beach soccer team are also in their national teams.

OFC Events Manager Seamus Marten says the championship will be played as a league system with the top two teams contesting a final and the winner advancing to represent OFC at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Rio De Janiero.

All participating countries have until 15th June to send in their official list of 10 players and two officials including other details relevant for the competition.

Source: SIFF

University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus considers foreshore work

The University of the South Pacific has applied to the Director of Lands in Fiji for foreshore development at Laucala Bay adjacent to the USP Lower Campus or marina.

The proposal would include the extension of USP campus, beach reserve, beach beautification and enhancement, dredging and some reclamation.

The director of lands intended to issue approvals with terms and conditions for various types of proposals.

Where inconsistent with the particulars outlined the provisions of the State Lands (Lease and License) Regulations would apply to the lease.

Objecting parties to this proposal would have to hand in their submissions to the Director of Lands.

The application by USP was gazetted on June 1.

Any objections to the gazetted notice should be submitted in writing to the director no later than 30 days of the appearance of the notice in the Fiji Islands Gazette.

Source: Fiji Times

PNG Police sends five new personnel to join RAMSI colleagues in Solomon Islands

Five police personnel from Papua New Guinea are on their way to join their other colleagues in the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.

Reports stated that the personnel, including a policewoman, left for the Australian capital, Canberra, on Monday for an induction course before travelling to the Solomons on Friday this week.

PNG's assistant commissioner in charge of public safety, Jim Andrews, has encouraged the five police personnel to be good ambassadors during their duty.

He said deployed PNG officers in Solomon Islands have done exceptionally well.

The deployment of the five police personnel brings the total number of PNG's officers in the Solomons to 10.

Source: Radio Australia

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Solomons People's Alliance Party formally withdraws support for Opposition team

The People's Alliance Party (PAP) has formally withdrawn its support from the Parliamentary Opposition.

A meeting of more than 20 PAP supporters and Parliamentary Wing leader, North-west Choiseul MP Clement Kengava on Saturday unanimously agreed on PAP's withdrawal.

A statement from the party says other PAP MPs including former Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza, North Vella La Vella MP Milner Tozaka and the MP for Shortlands Augustine Taneko were absent from the meeting.

The meeting agreed that PAP, the longest surviving political part in the country, has withdrawn because it was not functioning since the riots of April 2006.

The meeting also resolved that PAP would remain neutral of both the government and the opposition.

PAP supporters say the leadership of the Opposition was a non issue because they believe the opposition leader, Fred Fono has been doing a good job.

The meeting also agreed the party was not interested in taking over the leadership of the Independent group in parliament which is an ally of the opposition.

The meeting elected a seven member interim executive committee, headed by the president of the former PAP executive, James Mekab.

Source: SIBC

NZ Foreign Minister says Solomon Islands govt and RAMSI need to compromise

New Zealand's Foreign Minister says the Sogavare Government in Solomon Islands and the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) need to find a middle ground.

Speaking at a security summit in Singapore, Phil Goff has said there have been good reasons the Sogarare government has tried to maintain its sovereignty in the face of decisions by RAMSI.

But he says it is important that the government of the Solomon Islands continues to recognise the importance of the work being done by the Australian-led mission.

The Solomon Islands government, for good reasons and bad, has pushed back against their decision, making authority or sovereignty being constrained by the Regional Assistance Mission.

The Solomon Islands public however have remained hugely supportive of the regional mission.

The mission and the Solomon Islands government now face the challenge of trying to find a middle ground to enable ongoing cooperation, he says.

Source: Radio Australia

Monday, June 04, 2007

Solomons government plans feasibility study for a tourism institute at SICHE

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture is planning a feasibility study into the establishment of a tourism institute in the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE), located in Honiara.

It has been reported that the ministry has begun advertising regionally for consultants to carryout the feasibility study.

The Ministry says a training institute would improve the quality of service and improve the rates of visitation.

The reports say particular areas of importance highlighted are training in tourism and hospitality, tour guiding, business management, marketing and related skills.

News Source: SIBC

RAMSI team extended its community outreach program visit to Isabel Province

RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George says his team's consultation with the Isabel Provincial Executive was very successful.
Government Special envoy to RAMSI Michael Maina [left] and Isabel Premier Ruben Dotho [right] flanking RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George [centre] in Buala, Isabel province [photo supplied by RAMSI office].

The team made the visit to Buala last Friday, and met with the Premier Ruben Dotho and his executive.

The Government's Special Envoy to RAMSI, Michael Maina was also part of the team.

The Special Coordinator Mr George said he appreciated the contribution made by Mr Maina to the success of the visit. He said the visit and consultation were very encouraging.

Source: SIBC

Arnon Atomea Distance Learning Centre in Malu'u, North Malaita to be opened this week

The much awaited Arnon Atomea Distance Learning Centre is expected to be opened in Malu'u, North Malaita this week, as reported by PFNet.

This will enable the Arnon Atomea Centre to bring online distance learning and general Internet services to the doorstep of North Malaita people.

The Distance Learning Centres Project (DLCP) is an EU-funded component of the Education Sector Investment and Reform Programme (ESIRP). It is being implemented for the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development by the People First Network (PFNet) of the Rural Development Volunteers Association (RDVA).

The project is establishing a Solomon Islands SchoolNet, with nine distance learning centres located in rural community high schools in each province, equipped with broadband Internet through a newly established VSAT network. The project is working with education providers building capacity to deliver distance education in support of the curriculum, for in-school teacher training, technical and vocational training (TVET), open and flexible learning.

The centres will be run as multipurpose community telecentres, building on PFnet's sustainable rural networking experience, and are expected to have wide impacts in rural development.

Source of pic: PFNet

Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association announces its readiness to work with regional governments

The Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) announces that it is organised and ready to engage with Pacific Island governments and other stakeholders to effectively address the major issues that increasingly affect the Pacific Islands industry.

Established in 2004, the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association, PITIA, is comprised of the national commercial export tuna associations and operators in the fourteen Forum Island Countries.

At its annual general meeting held in Wellington, New Zealand, 26-27 May 2007 facilitated by GEF and DevFish, the Association discussed priority issues and developed plans of action for tuna conservation and management, fisheries trade, regional and national governance and industry profitability.

“We are faced with daunting problems that affect the viable future of our industry and the ongoing meaningful participation by the Pacific Islands people”, said PITIA Chairman, Mr James Movick.

PITIA members expressed their concern that the true value of the Pacific tuna resource is not being fully realized by the Pacific Island countries through the maximization of employment and economic opportunities.

PITIA can play a positive and proactive role to assist governments in the development of the tuna resources. In recognition of the important role of industry as a key partner in the development of the fishery and fisheries policy, the Managing Director of the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority, Mr Sylvester Pokajam, donated USD$20,000 to PITIA in support of regional industry participation initiatives.

The Pacific Islands commercial tuna industry has a vast pool of experience and expertise that should complement government efforts to secure these broader benefits for their national economies.

Meanwhile, Government recognises the important role of commercial industry in regional tuna industry development

“The domestically based tuna fisheries Industry plays a crucial role in partnering with governments to bring about meaningful national tuna fisheries development in the Pacific Islands”.

That is the message that Acting Executive Director of the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority, Mr Sylvester Pokajam, delivered to Pacific Islands tuna industry representatives gathered in Wellington on May 26-27, for the annual general meeting of the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA).

Mr Pokajam told PITIA members that the recent success in PNG’s tuna industry development is largely due to the proactive and cooperative role that the PNG tuna industry plays in partnership with the PNG Government and he pledged a contribution of USD $20,000 from the Authority to PITIA to enable more of its members to attend regional tuna fisheries related meetings where they can make an effective impact.

The PNG National Fisheries Authority is the country’s principal governmental fisheries management authority and has been credited with shepherding the fastest growing tuna industry development in the Pacific islands region.

Mr Pokajam said he was grateful for the role played by the PNG tuna industry and he was confident that PITIA could play a similarly significant role to facilitate greater industry involvement with other Island governments.

PITIA Chairman, Mr James Movick, assured Mr Pokajam that PITIA members are committed to engage proactively with Pacific Island governments and other stakeholders to establish more suitable tuna industry development strategies in the region.

He said that PITIA members were most committed to assist Island governments to realize the full true value of the Pacific tuna resource through the maximization of employment and economic opportunities.

Source: Islands Business

Solomon Islands Gold Ridge Mine to begin production in 2008

The owners of Solomon Islands' only gold mine, which is located at Gold Ridge on Guadalcanal, say their operation will begin gold production in June 2008, eight years after it was shut down by militant fighting between Guadalcanal and Malaita.

During its one year of operation between 1999 and 2000, Gold Ridge Mine produced 30 percent of Solomon Islands GDP.

Gold Ridge Mine manager, Val Buenic said the new operation would be 30 percent larger than before.

Mr Buenic said the operation will employ between 400 to 500 locals and will be on a larger scale than the previous operation.

“The project should be in production on 30th June 2008. We're a year away from pouring our first gold,” he said.

“The stage of the project right now is we're refurbishing the accommodation village on the site. We're about to begin two new relocation villages for the landowners.”

Source: Radio Australia

Friday, June 01, 2007

Solomon government hopeful to open USP's fourth campus in Honiara by 2008: Minister

The Solomon Islands Education Minister, Dr Derek Sikua told students at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva last night that the government is committed to the establishment of USP's fourth campus in Solomon Islands and is hopeful that the campus will be opened by 2008.

According to Dr Sikua, the government needs an initial SBD$40 million to relocate the current USP Solomon Islands Campus in Honiara to the new earmarked site near the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE), which will enable the campus to open its doors to the first intakes.

Sikua adds that in order to construct halls of residence or dormitories for students as well as staff quarters, the government would need a total of around SBD$130 million.

It is understood the Solomon government is responsible for construction of that campus while USP will only provide the human resources and other facilities to get the campus rolling.

Dr Sikua and Barnabas Sanga attended the annual USP Council meeting in Suva over the past four days to update council members of the progress made so far in the preparation work.

The government and the USP on February signed a letter of intent to commit themselves on the project. Following that, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is expected to be signed to allow the actual groundwork to follow with the construction of the complex.

Meanwhile, the minister and his delegation also used last night's meeting to respond to a submission that was made earlier in the week by the Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) with regards to some outstanding issues that affects the wellbeing of SIG sponsored students in Fiji.

The delegation revealed that the overall performance of Solomon students at USP was well above average compared to other regional students. It was also indicated that the need to have a SIG Scholarship liaising officer in Suva be put on hold until such a time the government sees appropriate.

Dr Sikua also stressed that the government will not allow students to seek extra semesters for their scholarship after failing to graduate at the expected time. He added that if a student took three years to complete a Bachelors degree then it is a policy that the student immediately return home and serve the country for at least three years before qualifying to apply for a SIG Scholarship to do postgraduate studies.

The minister and his team travelled to Nadi today and are expected to return to Honiara tomorrow.

Ousted but unbowed: A special obituary about the life of former Solomons PM and Malaita leader late Bart Ulufa'alu

by Craig Skehan

Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, 1950-2007
Bartholomew Ulufa'alu- just about everybody called him Bart - looked very much older than his recorded 56 years; sick and worn, but dignified and retaining a trademark sense of humour.

After the state funeral in the Solomon Islands on Sunday for the man who was ousted at gunpoint as prime minister in 2000, one mourner commented: "What was missing was Bart - no one was telling any good jokes."

He prized many things: family, clan, nation and his beloved Langa Langa Lagoon, a spectacularly beautiful place on the poor, populous island of Malaita. On occasion, he carried a finely carved walking stick, decorated with animal life, including a twisting serpent. "The snake represents Satan and we all need to resist Satan," he would quip.

A victim himself of devilish political plotting, Ulufa'alu shunned bitterness and remained ready to deal amicably with the men who forcibly unseated him seven years ago. By then, the country had been racked by two years of ethnic bloodshed.

After coming to power in 1997 Ulufa'alu pursued desperately needed economic reforms. However, when ethnic conflict flared in 1998 he tended to view the strife as flowing largely from a conspiracy involving political opponents from Malaita.

The rub was that there were genuine grievances among indigenous people on the main island of Guadalcanal that he did not address with any sense of urgency. Even many who admired and respected him say he was more focused on trying to dampen calls for revenge from within his own Malaitan community.

It was to be the Malaita Eagle Force, formed after militants on Guadalcanal drove Malaitan settlers from rural areas, that joined renegade police to remove Ulufa'alu from office.

This week, the Solomons Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, who came to power as a result of the 2000 coup, praised Ulufa'alu as a man of peace whose decision to step down from power had saved the "nation's unity".

In fact, his going was hardly voluntary, with bursts of rifle fire in Ulufa'alu's offices before he was led away by armed men. And there was by no means unity. Sogavare had been waiting in the wings and took over as prime minister in a parliamentary vote marred by the alleged intimidation of some MPs.

Canberra had ignored calls from Ulufa'alu before the coup for Australian intervention and continued to do so as the Solomons spiralled into the civil war foretold by the politician from Langa Langa Lagoon. It was not until mid-2003 that the Howard Government belatedly sent troops and police as the country teetered on the brink of collapse.

Ulufa'alu packed much into his life. Born on Christmas Day 1950 to poorly educated subsistence farmers and fisherfolk, he completed high school in the Solomons before earning a bachelor of economics degree at the University of Papua New Guinea. There he became president of the university's Students' Representative Council.

Ulufa'alu founded both the Solomon Islands General Workers' Union and the union-affiliated National Democratic Party. He entered the local Legislative Assembly in 1976 in the lead-up to independence from Britain in 1978. He became minister for finance in the government which came to power under Solomon Mamaloni in 1981, but lost his seat in 1984

Ever versatile, the former union leader went on to head both the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and the Farmers' Association. In 1988 he formed the Solomon Islands Liberal Party. He was re-elected to Parliament the following year, but resigned to take up an economic consultancy with the prime minister's office.

It was following his return to Parliament in 1997 that he won the prime ministership in a close parliamentary vote.

However the economy was in a shambles and unbridled logging was taking a terrible toll on the environment. He tried to tackle corruption and the country's growing debts but was destabilised by a series of parliamentary no-confidence motions and other political manoeuvrings.

Ulufa'alu had a leg amputated in 2004 as a result of diabetes. A passionate advocate of aiding development in the rural sector, he served as finance minister in the present Sogavare Government. However, he was dumped after five months as the result of a combination of health problems and political tensions.

He is survived by most of the women he partnered during his life and their numerous children, as well as a nation that mourns his passing.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Pacific women's conference in New Caledonia hears that "marriage" can put women at higher risk to HIV infection

The delegates to the 10th Triennial of Pacific Women meeting in New Caledonia have heard that marriage can put women at higher risk of HIV.

Robyn Drysdale (pictured), who is the Behaviour Change Communication Specialist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), says women risk contracting HIV from the men they trust the most, that is their husbands.

Ms Drysdale says in Papua New Guinea marriage has been identified as a risk factor for women for HIV infection.

She says increasing numbers of women across the Pacific are becoming infected, and the number of women infected in Papua New Guinea is higher than men.

Source: RNZI

Pacific's yellow fin and big eye tuna stocks at critical point: Conference

A regional fisheries conference in New Zealand has heard that tuna stocks in the Pacific are at a critical point with two important species at risk of being decimated. The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries committee is holding its annual meeting in Wellington.

Left: The yellow fin tuna; Right: The big eye tuna

New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says the highly migratory fish stocks of the western and central Pacific are at risk with big-eye and yellow-fin tuna being fished unsustainably.

Environmental organisation Greenpeace says fleets from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, the United States and the European Union take 90 percent of the Pacific tuna.

It says the fishing effort in the Pacific needs to be halved if big-eye and yellow-fin tuna catches are to remain sustainable.

Source: Radio Australia

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