Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Government Defends New Vanuatu Convention Center
Expected to generate revenues for state coffers

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 22, 2013) – Vanuatu Government Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jeff Patunvanu has dismissed concerns from the Opposition, in particular MP Ralph Regenvanu, over to renegotiate or relocate the proposed Chinese-funded and constructed Convention Centre at the Parliament green space.

The government is convinced a state-owned owned Convention centre is a viable investment which will generate revenue for the economy as Warwick’s Convention Centre at Le Lagon which catered for the ACP-EU meeting last year is owned by the private sector-not the government.

"Of course decentralization policy requires decentralizing projects beyond Port Vila but it is not feasible for a facility like this to be built on an isolated location," said Patunvanu.

"Because we have to have the infrastructure-for instance roads, wharves and airports in place first. The current site is ideal.

"MP Ralph maybe looking at it from another aspect but as an MP of Port Vila he should be present with the Leader of Opposition at the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday to attest to the Opposition’s statement to work together for the development of our country."

He said there is no need to divert funds and it is not a waste of tax payers monies like boycotting Parliament but rather an investment for the people of Vanuatu.

The government was swift to dispel criticisms after the Sunday groundbreaking ceremony on the Parliament site signaling the beginning of construction work on the Convention Centre, where the absence of Opposition MPs was obvious.

Prime Minister Sato Kilman, on Sunday emphasized the importance of such a facility to be own by the government in order to tap into opportunities that come with the economic impact of hosting regional and international events and conferences on Vanuatu’s shores.

However experience indicates the Vanuatu government will need to consider making early provisions to maintain and repair a facility of such magnitude.

Vanuatu Daily Post:
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