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Vanuatu MP Questions Motive For New Convention Center
Regenvanu says funds should be allocated elsewhere

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 17, 2013) – The whole rationale to build the National Convention Centre, according to one Vanuatu parliamentarian, was for the 8th ACP-EU International Conference which has already taken place, so there is no reason for another new national convention center to be built when there is an International Convention Center at the Le Lagoon which hosted the recent ACP-EU meeting.

Port Vila MP Ralph Regenvanu stated this to Daily Post by phone from Malekula in reference to the Chinese-funded Vt1.5 billion [US$16.4 million] National Convention Centre which is about to be built at the parliamentary green space.

The concerned MP said the Prime Minister and the Vanuatu Government should renegotiate with the Chinese Government for the funds to be used for other purposes other than just to build another new national convention centre when the country already has one.

"Such a huge amount of money or funds provided by the Chinese Government should be rather spent on so many other needs of the country such as schools, repair of government properties, infrastructure, better hospitals and clinics and roads in the islands throughout the country and much more," the Port Vila MP said.

Regenvanu pointed out that if the government still insists in building another convention center then it should choose another place outside Port Vila or in Luganville Santo or even in one of the provinces.

"The whole reasons to have the decentralization policy is to spread the developments out into the Provinces including such project as the idea of this convention center instead of building it on the only large green space next to parliament which the only venue for many national and international events such as the national and other Arts Festival and Independence Celebrations," said the Port Vila MP.

"Two points I am calling on the Government to consider. First is to re-negotiate with the Chinese Government to divert the funds for other much more pressing needs of the country or to consider another site outside Port Vila for this second convention center," Regenvanu proposed to the government.

He said Port Vila is already congested with little green spaces left and to give away the largest green space next to the national parliament complex just for another national convention center is not right.

"Even we, the Port Vila members of parliament, and the Port Vila Municipal Council which is the legal authority for the town development, were not consulted by the Prime Minister or Government for this new convention centre funded by the Chinese Government. And [neither were] the people or the population of Port Vila were not consulted either," Regenvanu told Daily Post.

"This is a perfect job for the newly appointed Chancellor or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Government Negotiator to carry out with the Chinese Government to divert the funds into many pressing and urgent needs around the country," said MP Regenvanu.

"I am calling on the Prime Minister and the Government to reconsider this project and to negotiate with the Chinese Government to spend the funds elsewhere and or select another site outside Port Vila even in Luganville Santo or one of the Provinces to build this second National Convention Centre," Port Vila MP and the President of the Graon and Jastis Party Regenvanu told Daily Post.

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