photo credit: thmcmahon
Vanuatu was judged the world’s happiest nation in 2006. However, with the growing privatisation of land title, their idyllic lifestyle is being carved up and sold off to the highest international bidder.
A concerned chief from South Santo, Mack Paiiamaja, has expressed serious concerns regarding massive uncontrolled land speculation and sub division development happening within Santo.
Land is acquired at local prices, then priced upwards and marketed on an international level, selling at international prices that dwarf local prices. The difference between the local and international prices is known as economic rent. The majority of this rent should be returned to the people of Vanuatu, helping to fund the infrastructure such developments require. It would also go a long way to funding the education and health the community of Santo needs.
The greatest threat to Ni-Vanuatu life is that the growing urban populations need work. With land prices escalating in Santo, small business find it harder to start up business. Higher rents limit their entry to the market, and when they do have the courage to start, have to pass on the higher rents in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Locals on local wages cannot afford to purchase the quantities they would if there was not such a disparity between a little island paradise and the incomes of the wealthiest people on the planet snapping up holiday homes or speculative locations.
Let’s hope that today’s Vanuatu election sees leadership elected to ensure the people of Vanuatu share in the fruits of the earth.