Pacific News and Sport Brief September 14

Government cars are detained in Vanuatu, visa system confuses Samoans and PNG MP dies

Officials illegally detaining government-owned cars

In Vanuatu, government political secretaries and civil servants retain their government-owned vehicles after the dissolution of parliament.

The daily post reports Public Service Commission Chairman Simil Johnson, saying that under the law staff are not allowed to continue to keep the vehicles.

Photo: Provided

Drivers have been warned to return them.

Johnson said the law is clear that once parliament is dissolved, government vehicles must be returned to await the election of the new government and new officials to drive them.

There are exceptions, such as officers who work weekends and nights, especially those who control borders.

This follows the confiscation of 50 government-registered vehicles last week, which were found not to be roadworthy.

Vanuatu heads to the polls next month after Bob Loughman’s government called a snap election.

Aotearoa visa system worries many Samoans

Many Samoans find the New Zealand online visa process inconvenient and inaccessible.

Online applications for New Zealand visas were introduced in 2019, but Immigration New Zealand told the Samoa Observer the recent switch to full-time online service was made to accommodate the growing number of applicants and for health and safety reasons.

The change has been a challenge for many rural Samoans, who end up spending money on travel agencies to help them.

Immigration New Zealand’s border and visa officer, Nicola Hogg, acknowledged that the change could be difficult for people to adjust to at first.

She says Immigration NZ has a dedicated office mailbox and telephone where applicants and their families can seek help.

She added that more than 1,300 visa applications from Samoan nationals have been received through the online submission platform.

Hogg said online applications are already in place with other countries receiving large numbers of applications from Samoa.

PNG politician dies

Newly re-elected Papua New Guinean MP for Wewak, Kevin Isifu, has died in Port Moresby.

Isifu had won a second term in the July elections, under the banner of the United Resources Party.

The NBC broadcaster reports that he died of complications from colon cancer.

After entering Parliament in 2017, he became Minister for Intergovernmental Relations in the O’Neill/Abel government, then was appointed to the Constitutional and Legislative Reform Commission.

It is the second death of an MP in the last election, following incumbent North Bougainville Speaker William Nakin, who died during the vote but still won the ballot.

Food boost in Washington for American Samoa

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service is providing a $10 million grant to increase nutritional benefits to American Samoa.

The extra money means that current participants in the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program will receive US$277 per month, for the year beginning October 1.

This is an increase of $100 to $183 per month above current benefit levels.

For participants with the lowest incomes, American Samoa will also pay $208 per month for an additional household member, bringing the total household benefit to $485 per month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this grant will help alleviate the lasting effects of the pandemic and boost the local food system.

The money is in addition to the annual block grant the territory receives.

Head of State to represent Samoa at Queen’s funeral

Samoan Head of State Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi will represent Samoa at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Tuesday, September 20, Samoan time.

Tuimaleali’ifano and his wife traveled to Australia where they will join other Pacific leaders to fly to London with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

They are accompanied by the Cabinet Secretary, Agafili Shem Leo, and the head of the state aide-de-camp.

Futsal wins for New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu

The New Zealand futsal team beat the five-presidential team of the Fiji Football Association, 5-1, in the opening game of the Oceania Futsal Cup.

Meanwhile, a hat-trick in the final 10 minutes from Use Qenegeie saw New Caledonia beat main team Fiji 4-2, having previously led 2-0.

And three players all scored braces to help Vanuatu to a 9-0 victory over Tonga in their opener at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

Futsal is a modified form of football played with five players per side on a smaller, usually indoor pitch.

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