Renegade Economists Podcast 64

Karl FitzgeraldCommentary4 Comments

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Show Notes – Vanuatu’s Invisible Chains

Karl’s return from speaking to the Council of Chiefs for the Shepherd Islands (Vanuatu) reveals the new weapon of choice – land speculation. Interviews with locals tell the story that ugly aussie expats are leading. Film comp screening Wed Dec 3rd.


Sovereignty – 1980
Land speculation the neo-colonial weapon of choice
89% Port Vila foreign owned
25% live on less than US$1 per day
Strong link to West Papuan freedom
Enclosure of the commons so fresh – connection to land is strong

The synopsis:
1. Land has not been valued in many areas since 1980
2. Property taxes on buildings only
3. Land taxes mysteriously reduced to under 1% in last few years
4. 2 people work in the Valuer Generals office
5. 4 people work in valuation for the Department of Lands
6. None of them have time to value land.
7. US Aid is building a sealed ring road around the main island of Effate.
8. There is very little internet access there
9. No free internet anywhere, even the library
10. 89% of land in capital city Port Vila is foreign owned
11. 99% medium to large biz foreign owned
12. Land speculation and land banking is rife.
1. 24% capital gains p.a over last 5 years.
2. Most by aussies. Society dominated by dodgy expat Oz conmen. Embarrassing ;(

The invisible chains of land speculation are threatening the freedoms of ni-Vanuatuan’s. Land monopolisation is just so dominant there could hardly be a better example of the perils of poor tax regimes.

‘We must turn off the tap to the magic money of land speculation’
‘Economic rent is the urban gold’
‘Foreign aid for foreign speculators’

Interviews –
Tommy: ni-Vanuautuan labourer, Port Villa
Chief Andrew Popovi…where’s my notepad….sorry

20bn barrel oil discovery puts Cuba in the big league
Rory Carroll

The government announced there may be more than 20bn barrels of recoverable oil in offshore fields in Cuba’s share of the Gulf of Mexico, more than twice the previous estimate.

If confirmed, it puts Cuba’s reserves on par with those of the US and into the world’s top 20. Drilling is expected to start next year by Cuba’s state oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet.

…could increase pressure on the next administration to loosen the embargo to let US oil companies participate in the bonanza and reduce US dependency on the middle east, said Jones. “Up until now the embargo did not really impact on us in a substantive, strategic way. Oil is different. It’s something we need and want.”

Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply
Julian Borger

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa”. This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.

“In the context of arable land sales, this is unprecedented,” Atkin said. “We’re used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as much.”

According to diplomats, the Saudi Binladin Group is planning an investment in Indonesia to grow basmati rice, while tens of thousands of hectares in Pakistan have been sold to Abu Dhabi investors.

Laos, meanwhile, has signed away between 2m-3m hectares, or 15% of its viable farmland. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian farmland, and Egypt is believed to want similar access.

Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have built-in safeguards for local populations.

Cropwatch Media Release – Tuesday November 25, 2008
GM canola contamination at Horsham

GM Cropwatch’s Jessica Harrison today found Genetically Manipulated (GM) canola plants heaped up on the roadside near the Natimuk/Rudolph’s Rd junction, 5 minutes from Horsham. Galahs were also seen feasting on GM canola last week.

“The windrowed canola plants blew off Geoff Rethus’ farm and are 75 metres across the road,” Ms Harrison says.

“The Victorian and NSW Governments must also heed Tasmanian lessons, where GM contamination led their government yesterday to ban GM canola until 2014 at least.

EastLink’s land block giveaway

EastLink’s operator ConnectEast and land developer Sandarra will give away a block of land to a motorist, in a desperate bid to increase traffic on the struggling tollway.

Only 147,000 drivers a day are using EastLink, not the 220,000 ConnectEast needs to cover interest payments on its $1.9 billion debt.


Tongoa Island dancers – live and unreleased

4 Comments on “Renegade Economists Podcast 64”

  1. Vanuatu – Invisible chains
    What a lot of out of context findings, written to entice friction between Nivanuatu people and locals expats or in this case targeting Australians.
    Get you’re facts right, but that would mean that you would have to do some actual research! What lazy, attention seeking irresponsible writing.

    There are challengers ahead of us as a nation but through proper dialogue and respect for each other we will get there. This type of blog writing is not assisting, all it does is to create racism, falsehoods and resentment instead of progress.

    What a shame you dont use this medium to find solutions instead of lighting fires.

  2. Hi John,

    Thank you for your criticism.

    These actually ARE the facts. The tax system hands out free lunch to land speculators day in, day out. These facts were taken from various interviews with government officials and reports.

    Your insecure response identifies that expat Australians are well aware of the economic impacts on Ni-Van people of the rampant speculation. Sure most developers and speculators are just making the best of a dodgy situation. But between the poor advice given by aid agencies to government and the layers of corruption that developers world wide engage in, people of upstanding morals must agree that Ni-Van people should be receiving a share of the enormous wealth being created, captured and leaving the country via land speculator’s bulging bank accounts.

    Instead the locals are paying VAT tax for the increases in infrastructure that raise land values. This in turn makes life more expensive for local people.

    Until the expat community helps the situation by speaking up on these issues, they are complicit in it. As an Australian, that makes me ashamed.

    If you’d be interested in coming on our radio show and explain the situation as you see it, I’d love to have you on.

    Watch this short video to explain the corruption of economics and how good intentions are distorted.

  3. We slap punative writ on Education in OZ. Three neighbours and I don’t have computers or internet- Money go’s to paying filthy lazy old rich landlords-Great way to skill-up a nation-don’t you think

  4. yes these easy profits should replace other taxes and ensure there is enough funding for future generations to get the same level of FREE education that baby boomers received.

    Ironically enough, the recent Bradley report on Higher Education reform proposed higher handouts for students. Economic forces see that the very same landlords you are critiquing will have the power to up their rents, keeping students in the poverty cycle…..

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