Vanuatu – The World’s Happiest People?

Karl FitzgeraldArticles, Progress Magazine17 Comments

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Karl Fitzgerald

As published in the Mar – April Progress magazine. Get a copy of this cane paper, veggie ink mag sent to you for 6 free editions
Related Event – Thurs April 30th – Vanuatu’s Sovereignty Surrendered
The World’s Happiest People

A 2006 study by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth found that Vanuatu was the world’s happiest nation. The study looked at consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness.

Our recent visit there proved otherwise.

Walking down the main street of Port Villa at sunset and one could feel the glaring eyes of the youth looking at the food in my hands. A riot had occurred in May. In early November, a week before we arrived, a tourist operator was bashed at the local port by a local taxi driver. Frustration boiled over because of the cartel-like control of new visitors by the expat dominated tourist industry.

With urban drift a rising phenomenon in rapidly westernising Pacific nations, the city had an edgy feel .

Something was amiss in the world’s happiest nation.

Within minutes of arriving, the eyes of a roaming renegade economist could soon see traits similar to western societies. Vacant land littered the community. Forests were being cut down on the urban fringe, rivers and streams polluted by the run off. These were effects, but what was the cause?

Vanuatu is a relatively young country, having gained its independence just 29 years ago from the French and English.

The tragedy of this opportunity is that just 29 years since independence, 90% of Vanuatu’s coastline has been sold off. Over 80% of the capital city Villa is foreign owned. Small, locally owned business is a rarity, with just 2 ni-Van owned operations located whilst we were there.

Vanuatu’s background is radical for the region. Walter Lini was their first Prime Minister (1980 – 91). He developed Melanesian socialism. Wikipedia tells us “’Giving’ was based on one’s ability to do so. ‘Receiving’ was based on one’s need”.

Lini also signed the Non-Alignment Movement. Whilst maintaining his independence, he forged closer ties with Libya and Cuba than the US. This concerned America as Vanuatu was the only Pacific country not to have signed with the pro-Western bloc. Lini ‘s administration was staunchly against nuclear testing in the region. He was also a proponent of a new Melanesia where the people of East Timor and West Papua were freed.

Many ni-Van’s (indigenous) etch together a living driving taxi’s. Most locals work for expat Aussies or Chinese. With Vanuatu a prominent tax haven, some of the shadier western businessmen have descended on this idyllic life to ‘start again’. It’s not hard to find web comments on how ni-Van’s are treated as little kids by these westerners with superior english.

Rayna and I were invited there to speak to the Shepherd Alliance Party, a rapidly growing political party in the volatile world of Vanuatuan politics. In what turned out to be a 4 hour presentation, I ran through the need for the people to gain a share in the bounty of the land.

Having a cultural connection to land, the many chiefs in the audience resonated with this need. We moved through how social progress and population growth naturally added to land values. One of the many Karl’s we met there summed this up as ‘magic money’. How true. ‘We must turn off the tap to the magic money of land speculation’ became the catch-cry.

Over the last twenty years much of the Pacific has moved from kastomary land title to Torrens Title. Going from a socially based form of land ownership to one where property developers are carving up their idyllic coastline with names like Barrier Beach, it was like a step back in time for a Georgist. Here we were rubbing shoulders with politically minded people in an era where their commons were being enclosed day by day.

The people are alive with the inherent understanding of the vitality of land and all the freedom it represents. In what seemed to be a light bulb type moment for the audience, the chiefs were excited by the explanation that land earns a natural bounty to be shared amongst the community in place of all other taxes. Chairman Morris Kaloran summed the essence of this up with ‘No matter what factory they have, they cant make dirt’.

Soon the chiefs passed a resolution to include Land Tax in the party’s constitution.

As with Melbourne’s ‘World’s Most Liveable’ city tagline, the ‘World’s Happiest’ tag was adopted and sculpted by those that owned the most precious resource of all – Vanuatu’s land.

Ironically, the World’s Happiness measure was meant to raise awareness that excessive consumption doesn’t deliver happiness. However, with our two dimensional economic system any such headlines can be marketed to the advantage of those same over-consumers, the wealthiest people on the planet.

Vanuatu’s main newspaper, the Daily Post (19/08/08) reported how chief Mack Paiiamaja from South Santo expressed serious concerns regarding massive uncontrolled land speculation and sub division development.

“Many of these developments have contributed significantly to creating divisions within the communities of rural Santo as a result of land disputes being generated to claim ownership.”

Meetings with senior bureaucrats revealed shocking details. Land valuations hadn’t been performed since independence in some areas. The tourist brochures reminded us that Vanuatu means ‘Land Eternal’. Surely it is valuable then?

In Port Villa it has been over 10 years since land valuations, meaning that the contributions land owners are making to the public purse via land tax are very small.

Compounding the problem, the Land Valuers office is tragically under resourced, with administration soaking up any time to value land. Four work in valuation at the Lands Department. Two people work at the Valuer Generals office. Discussions revealed that valuation skills desperately needed updating.

The Land Tribunal had thousands of disputes but only 2 people. The Lands Department was even shutting services, such was the ineffectiveness of public policy.

The plot thickened when we heard that Land Taxes had mysteriously been reduced from the 2- 3% listed online to 0.83% on pre-historic land values! An administrative decision, rather that a government decree, had led to this secretly sliding through.

A host of differential rates of Land Taxes ensure the system is confusing and open to debate. No wonder so much time is spent in administration.

Every time we mentioned to taxi drivers or people we met at the Fest Namaba1 that the land bounty must be shared with the people, there was resounding agreement. It was widely recognised that speculators were doing more harm than good.

So what was the cause to more than 25% of the population living below the poverty line?

Tax policy has been massaged by vested interests so that the direct and costly administrative control of an island nation has been replaced by the invisible chains of land speculation, forcing up rents to astronomical levels. Heads nodded in agreement when we asked whether the many living in central Villa, the educated workers of government, were paying 50% of their money in rents.

One wonders how they received such poor tax advice. Some suggest that land policy was developed pre-independence and has not been reviewed since. With the rapid increase in land privatisation, land use policy seems well overdue for a revamp. An ad hoc process is holding the good people of Vanuatu to ransom.

The easy profits being made in land speculation are tearing up the Pacific Islands. Whilst one can point to religious and racial tension as triggers, one feels that with more investigation of the Soloman and Fiji riots that these were borne of frustration at the radical change in lifestyles thrust upon them by the ‘benefits’ of westernising land title and privatising land rents. One hopes this doesn’t occur in Vanuatu, but with large numbers of unemployed young men in a town witnessing rich white folk driving around town in new hummers (!), the social contract is rapidly melting.

We have a unique opportunity to assist in finding a balance between western and kastomery land title.

What one can experience when visiting HYPERLINK “http://www.barrierbeach.com.au/”www.barrierbeach.com.au is the internationalisation of what was once a sacred resource. The land itself is now being sold off to the highest bidder in a global fire-sale. Local ni-Van’s have no chance of owning a piece of their traditional lands and taking a respectable place in their precious society.

Instead, some of the world’s most beautiful coastline is being sold off to an international coterie of property speculators who know that given enough time, they can sit back and buy and sell exotic locations for massive profits with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Morris Kaloran recounted how ‘In the 90’s there was barely a real estate agent in town. Now there are dozens of them, all making a killing’.

But the tax advice is where the real game of opportunity lies. Which foreign entities have advised the Port of Villa Municipality to charge council rates on buildings only? We are pursuing the answers through the questioning of the Senate Estimate’s committee.

No land is in the tax mix for council rates. This is precisely the reverse of what should be occurring for an effective council rating system. Meetings with senior bureaucrats revealed that many colonial landlords were given exemptions from even these miniscule council rates at the time of independence.

With all this controversy, we had to drive around the island of Effate to survey the lay of the land.

Colonialists used guns to gain access to land. Neo-Colonialists use a potent mix of land speculation, corruption and the promulgation of ineffective economic policy to massage their self interests. Nowhere is this more prominent than the lands of Roi Mata.

Roi Mata was the grandfather of Effate, the main island of Vanuatu, renowned for crystallising peace amongst the tribes. His ancestral lands at Mangaliliu were announced on July 8th, 2008 as Vanuatu’s first World Heritage Site. With signage at the front gate stating that this was proposed World Heritage land, Queensland developers somehow connived their way into clear-felling the forest and offering nine hectares up for sale. This clear-felling happened within one month of the World Heritage announcement. The buffer zone they are operating in came with a set of leasing rules that have been drastically overstepped.

Local chief Reuben Kaloris and William Kalotiti have blockaded the main access road out of concern for what is happening to this sacred land. With legal threats being thrown at the chiefs and local supporters (who are also scared that their house will be burnt down), we hope this story will reach mainstream press by the time you read this.

This clear-felling is happening for a paltry amount. Locals were told that the land would be sold for 4million Vatu (A$55,000) However, the prime beach front site was advertised at 30m Vatu (A$415,000) and is now sold. The remaining 9 sites at advertised prices will reap just $900,000. Trashing a World Heritage site must be worth barely more than a million bucks!

With the GFC accelerating bankruptcies daily, it seems like much of this pristine coastline will sit vacant waiting for the next land boom to take off. As analysts of the land market will understand, these sites will be drip fed to the market over the next 15 years, with at least one guaranteed to go for $1m. More pollution and disturbance will be about all the local community receives in return.

Of added attraction to salivating profiteers is the fact that Mangaliliu is the entrance point to the island that Survivor: Vanuatu was filmed on. Perhaps the potential of exotic marketing slogans highlighting the World Heritage status and views of ‘Survivor’ Island motivated the developers to ruthlessly cut corners. Those taglines, when combined with its intrinsic beauty, would ensure a sizeable price tag well beyond what the local bloodlines would receive in a one-off payment for this sacred land.

Please watch our short film on this outrageous controversy via www.youtube.com/earthsharing

As a demonstration of the difficulty good governance faces in the country, Transparency International, the peak NGO body fighting the ills of corruption worldwide, is represented by a real estate agent in Vanuatu.

A developer with a 2 page criminal record was recently awarded Vanuatu’s highest honour. He has the privilege of enclosing the closest, most beautiful beach to Villa.

Taken from the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority website, this developer says:

“To Whom it May Concern

If you are reading this letter than you have made the first step in the right direction.

To invest in the Vanuatu Islands is the smartest move I have ever made, and will be yours also.

I arrived here Independence day 2001, just divorced ravaged by tax and lawyers, not knowing where or in what I wanted for my future life.

Alone and lost I immediately felt the warmth of the people, Ni van’s and expats all welcomed me…

On the second day I started real estate hunting, I knew this was my future home, I was fortunate enough to see a double wave break on a white sandy beach not 10 minutes from town. I could not believe I could buy 1 acre on that beach, but I could, the land ownership over here is same as Canberra.”

One can be assured that the friendliness is waning today. Australians have a bad name due to the corners they cut chasing the ‘investment dream’. Another development on Mele beach sees sites up for sale on former swamp land, with the environmental destruction prevalent in clearing the site said to be positive for the community because of the removal of conditions conducive to mosquitoes and their malaria.

As we continued our drive around the island we began to see the impact of the ring road that US Aid was building. Perhaps solidifying the warmth in relations as Vanuatu’s politicians were brought back in line with Western interests, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has signed a five-year, $65.69 million Compact with the Government of Vanuatu.

This aid will deliver eleven infrastructure projects. Pro-aid websites valiantly tell us this will benefit poor, rural agricultural producers by reducing transportation costs.

It is also meant to increase average wages per capita by 15% within 5 years.

This analysis fails to register that western property developers have crept around the island buying up vast tracts of virgin land. We saw land banks for sale every 8 – 10 km’s. With a new airstrip and a sealed road, wealthy westerners can fly in, scoot off to their beach villa and hardly see the depths of poverty in Port Villa.

A new slogan was borne: ‘Foreign aid for foreign speculators’.

Our second stop saw a visit to Chief Andrew Popovi from Tanoliu. His concern centred around speculation and how little land his people had left. Chief Popovi was one of the few to know that a 10% fee was to be paid to the traditional owners when re-selling the land as a subdivision. This amount was often a lot lower than when sold a third time, hinting that perhaps third party companies were utilised to ensure that the flipping profits stayed within the walls of the wealthy.

The chief was concerned that many of the reform measures decided upon at the 2006 Land Summit had not yet been implemented. Land sale contracts are still written primarily in English, rather than including the local Bislama language.

Driving onwards through this largely unsigned country we were desperate for a lunch stop. We had noticed that Beachcomber Lodge had hot spas, the only location on the island with this natural wonder. Upon entering the site, we drove straight to the nearest spot on the beach for a quick bite before heading over to the springs.

A few bites into lunch and this loud voice boomed out from right next to us, scaring the living daylights out of us all. Before we could comprehend how this self-professed land-lord had crept up and yelled at the top of his lungs, he was preaching to us ‘How dare you enter my land, driving all over it. Who do you think you are? Where do people like you come from?’

We were rattled and couldn’t even get in a good comeback line! Where were the cameras to catch this landlord’s insecurity on film? Where were our moral rights to a seat on what is meant to be a public beach overlooking the Shepherd Islands, the traditional lands of our navigators Julie and Rivkin?

With tensions rising amongst the community about access rights to beaches and food sources, the school principal type demeanour this Aussie expat displayed was a shameful reflection of private property rights walloping human rights. I still have moments of anger flash in frustration at my inability to awaken this poor chap’s conscience. One can only imagine how he treats his indigenous ‘subjects’.

If I was on my front foot I would have inquired about ‘his’ enclosures. Are the natural springs he enclosed valued at a respectable level? Is the rate paid respective of the right to privatise what once would have been a public meeting place?

We dwelled on these thoughts as we dodged pot holes, gliding through some of the most beautiful lands one could imagine. Soon we arrived at Eton Beach, the only national park we saw, where we gladly paid a 300 Vatu entry fee to the government.

We left Vanuatu shocked at the effect land speculation was having. Adding to the dilemma was that western aid funded scores of young white uni graduates to a loud, beer fuelled aussie existence. Canadian aid workers were wary of us. Western aid promoted a reliance model of handouts rather than self-help.

Let’s do something about this.

With the positive resonance experienced in discussions with bureaucrats, we are making the most of Alanna Hartzok’s Global Land Tools online course as the perfect resource for long distance learning. Within the course we have set up an EarthSharing Pacific class where participants are submitting details on land policy vagaries in their country.

Take it further by joining the class – http://course.earthrights.net/

17 Comments on “Vanuatu – The World’s Happiest People?”

  1. I find this poorly researched. It seems you have come here, spoken to a few people and gone away with some misunderstanding of the system here.
    Land Tribunal only has 2 persons? Which land Tribunal there are so many of them on so many islands?

    I dont know what land tax you are referring to as I live outside the city. When we took transfer of our lease we had to pay 5% on the value of the land. We seem to be taxed on a user pays system..

    Some examples are

    30% on many imports,
    stamp duties,
    fees for the use of any Government service,
    Business licenses fees,
    Vat of over 12% (on top of import duties)

    There are restricted businesses which only Ni-Vanuatans can do. Some have been very very successful.I find it sad that you did not bother to look for these clever people. There are many professional indigenous people who are doing well.

    We found and find the Lands Registry Office to be very helpful and they have registered all our leases within a very short time. If they have downsized it is news to me and perhaps it was done because they are getting on top of things.

    Yes there are greedy speculators here, but they are everywhere in the world. The locals here are extremely clever and well educated. They usually drive a hard bargain. Unfortunately this was not the case 8 years ago.due to the lack of water and the lack of an adequate ring road. Now that the ring road is being put through the local custom owners can develop the land and sell it at realistic profits. We are also able to source bore drillers to ensure water which was not the case .. before.

    Although it is not perfect and there will be some who are disappointed in slow progress here I think that the people here are hungry for foreign investment. I have studied the life of the people I work with in the village near here. They are much happier than most of the people I used to live and work with in a big city. I think that one should not judge them by first world standards.

    The reason why the land on the beaches is being sold is because this is the land the tourists want and the locals want work. The locals still have the right to use the beaches. Most villages have reserved a right of access though a few did not. This should be fixed. What has happened though in so many areas is that once the land is developed then too many indigenous people place claims on it. This has frozen money that the Chief could have used for his people.

    I have lived in Africa where there is real poverty. I do not see this poverty here.

    Australia has unlinked its aid to Vanuatu in that any project can be tendered for by any organisation from any country.

    You seem to take exception to the poverty in Port Vila? Does it not occur to you that the poor there come from the outlying villages who have no access to work? The Expats who will live near their villages will create work. I live near Tanaliu and we have calculated that 9 expats have created work for 30 People from Tanaliu. These people could not find work before. The spin offs are good. They are being trained as handymen, gardeners (western, cleaners, plumbers, builders, even electrical assistants. A small resort will open here soon and hopefully 10 more villagers will find work. A trading store opened as a result of the increased Expat turnover and 5 people are working there too. So.. 45 people are now employed from the village. The total population including children and the aged is about 270. I think we have made a difference. Our workers are all building concrete and brick houses which will withstand cyclones and earthquakes. This could not happen before. Perhaps you should look for the positive as well.

  2. HI Ingrid,

    thankyou for your response. Good to hear from other perspectives. You are right, i only had 10 days in Vanuatu so it is not an extensive study. However, the tax system is regressive with VAT falling harder on ni-Van’s than expats who monopolise the flow of tourists via their buses. Yes there are are greedy speculators everywhere (as i admitted early on). It was just jaw dropping how bad the tax advice was and what sort of disrepair the Land Tax system is in. Most of the pain from the ni-Van side that I saw was related to the massive profits that speculators were making. The community was getting next to nothing due to the lack of land valuations, upside down council rating system and mysterious reduction in Land Tax %’s.

    New jobs may have been created, but with the price of land escalating and with that food prices too, what is given with one hand is taken away by another.

    US aid money building the ring road will only make the land more valuable in the future. Why should private individuals benefit from this, rather than the community? You are right I could have been clearer that this was a critique of the system itself, not individuals.

    All in all, why should food and essentials be taxed, rather than using the tax system to create a moral compass to direct people away from land speculation and towards more creative business.

  3. Please insert a map reflecting the economical relations between Vanuatu and outside world (import and export).

  4. HI Masovish,

    if only we were better resourced! tho i must say socialists are very good at such capital v labour forms of analysis. We have more faith in human ingenuity in that if the people could access land they could produce their own capital. Unfortunately the tax advice Vanuatu has been given has been tilted towards taxing food, medicines and other important goods, rather than getting a share of the land bounty. This allows the property lobby to scoot off with millions, whilst entrepreneurs have to pay high rents and do lots of tax paperwork, curtailing innovation, rewarding speculation.

  5. Karl,
    I found your article very interesting and I think you managed to produce a lot of interesting but shocking facts in the short period you were there.
    I travelled there in January of 2007 with my husband and I would like to just add that we were also very disappointed with the state of Port Vila and Efate because it was certainly not what is portrayed to the outside world. We had a typical naive “tourist package” where 5 days was spent at Le Meridien but we then spent the remaining 2 and a half weeks at the Kalfabun Guest house which was run by locals. This is where we really discovered the disappointing facts of daily life for the ni-vans.
    Although Ingrid argued that there have been many new jobs created for the locals because of expat investment I would like to ask her how much they are being paid compared to an expat wage and what that relates to with the cost of living?! From what I understood it’s barely enough to pay for food on the table let alone health and education. The local people, (especially the youth,) are neglected and until the government associations acknowledge this there is no room for improvement.

  6. Karl,

    You have hit the nail on the hit!! Land issue in Vanuatu is becoming probably one of the most important issues which if Vanuatu Government does not realize it from the outset; the problem will totally get out of hand and beyond control. I think the problem is probably already on the verge of at its worst stage ever. Land or the tangible property is important to Ni Vanuatu for thousand of years and generations before the arrival of speculators and investors. Many foreigners do not comprehend that the importance of land is more than being a tangible property and asset the way many westerners see it; the importance of land is more than to many Westerners. To Ni Vanuatu, land represents life, materially and spiritually.

    I have written articles before voicing my concern to the media that our land laws needed reformation, equally, a few other Ni Vanuatu have done the same, evidently, the concern has culminated in the convening of the land summit in 2006, but Vanuatu Government appears not to be heeding the advice seriously even those recommendations which have been made during the latter summit have not been implemented fully as yet. There is only scanty evidence of Government improvement pertaining to land issues post the land summit. I think the 75 year lease is becoming a joke, it is silly than anything else, it is enshrined under the Constitution that land belongs to Indigenous Ni Vanuatu land owner, it purportedly espouses to protect the interests of Indigenous Ni Vanuatu, but whether it does in reality it remains to be seen. On paper it may be but in reality I have my doubts. The problem is that the lessee does not have to leave the property until the whole development is being paid for by the lessor. In reality how many Indigenous land owners would be able to repay the development out from a resort owned by a multi-national? Let us face it, the answer is NO. I can foresee legal battles lurking in the shadows in foreseeable future. Even in contractual terms which are enforced within an English Common law system which we have, I am afraid if there is a conflict between common law and equity; it is the latter which prevails. I envisage Indigenous Ni Vanuatu people especially the future generations will be the one who would suffer the detrimental consequences of the actions of their parents and grand parents. It is one thing that I blame “greed” greed among some indigenous land owners and foreigners. Obviously land is being bought at a cheaper rate by expatriates then it is the latter who sell the land at an exorbitant price for the purposes of the profit, whilst it is the former who are left sticking their tongue out being thirsty for not only the intangible property which is money, vatu, dollar, pounds etc but equally the tangible property/asset which is the land of course.

    You walk outside of the CBD of Port Vila you will see evidently the gap between the rich and the poor exists. You get expatriates residing in expensive areas whilst their Ni Vanuatu counter parts reside in poor slams. The mere fact of creating jobs is not good enough it helps but it does not curtail poverty or contributes towards equity in our society.

    Indeed on balance, development is needed but if Vanuatu Government continues to develop precipitous policies which do not protect the interests of indigenous Ni Vanuatu we will become second class citizens again in our own land. Whether the land issues will cease to perpetuates it remains to be seen.

    Alivier- Indigenous Ni Vanuatu, LONDON.

  7. Hi Aliver,

    thankyou for your kind comments. That is the shot in the arm i need! Please feel free to provide links to or put my article on your website. I must be due to write another article explaining how the system explained above can assist ni-Van’s regain control of their lands.

    regards,
    Karl

  8. Yes i believe and strongly agree that vanuatu’s biggest problem is proper land use. Yes i think that ni-vanuatus maybe lazy as some may say but i also think that its jus becos they lack the potential or the education of how to better use their land. I think that the government should provide awareness or should find ways to stop land being sold because not only will it affect the present economy but will also affect the future economy. Yes it is true mam that living in vanuatu is very costly but i would also like to point out that its not only happening in vanuatu but also in the rest of the world. Vanuatu is a small economy and is easily influenced by bigger economys through prices and the financial crises is not making it any better to vanuatu or other PIC. There is poverty in the country but not the type of poverty like in africa or you dont see people on the streets begging for food or money like in fiji or everyother bigger countries overseas… I beleive that vanuatu has alot of potential and alot of resources but they are jus not asking the right questions…its very nice of u’s to try helping the ni-vans regain control of their land…like the comments

  9. Hi Karl:
    Thank you for those good thoughts,the problem confronting vanuatu are rooted in a specific set of historical and contemporary situations. Obviously outsiders forgot that Vanuatu is an independent nation..whatever that means to them? The legacies of colonial rule and globolization and policies drafted by leaders have all contributed to the challenges..am sure the leaders are doing their best to protect the Ni-Vanuatu.
    Some movements (if any) could result in some bloody violence…like Solomon and Bouganville crisis- related to: LAND!! The changes in land use and land tenure are among the most senitive issues in the pacific islands……
    please send me an email..I would like to discuss this further.
    Thank you,

  10. Why are the foreigners selling land in a foreign country that it not their own? Why can’t the Government of Vanuatu themselves do that? They don’t need to develop the land. I come from an island. You buy land bank from the Government and all you get is the road. Whatever the foreigners are charged for the lease they get thousands on top of that. The Government is allowing outsiders to take the money that should go into the Government coffers and they should be stopped before it’s too late.

  11. Lucy,
    The tax system is the best way to turn this situation around. I hope you can keep reading this website or join this free online Earth Rights course to teach about how the earth’s worth can be shared so that we aren’t penalised for working (via income tax). Click the Earthsharing Pacific box so you can connect with others on this missing ingredient in our education.

  12. Nice article, and inspiring comments.

    Yes I think there is something fishy about all of the land ownership in Vanuatu. But not land speculators should be blamed for, but Vanuatu government, who set up the rules and legal boundaries.
    There is many way how to prevent land sold out from under very bare foot of Ni-Vanuatu-ans.

    75 years lease is spiting into the face of next generation, as well as land development pay back.
    Those rules could be implemented in the moment, when Ni-Vanuatu will compete on the international markets of labour and goods, and will be prepared to take western society lifestyle with its good and bad sides of life.

    But Vanuatu is quite different and special, Vanuatu have unique tribal and family based society, free of real term poverty and ill sides of exploited western civilisation. Vanuatu is a jewel in the pacific ocean, and this is why westerners seek Vanuatu and bring very needed cash in tourism industry.

    One of the instrument government should implement, could be REGULATED LENGTH OF LEASE by the TYPE of land use and development starting from 1 year to maximum 75 years. All existing leases should be cut back. Yes, government have power to do that.
    Length should reflect type of land use from 1 year for no use – suitable for speculators, through residential building to coconut plantation (75 years).
    Land title should not to be subject of reselling.
    Subdivision should be banned and authority to land partitioning be granted only to local chiefs and Land Tribunal. Bounded to the “land use” instrument.

    Vanuatu should abandon English and French as official languages and all written document and leases should be written in Bislama.
    Land development shall not to be subject of repaying back and should be reflected in length of lease.

    Another important issue is land accessing. Land must be accessed by all members of the community (with exception of tabu places and for safety issues in industrial developments and some reasonable privacy zone around residential properties) and traditional uses of the land (shore access, local fishing, ..) must not be limited by any circumstances.

    Come on Ni-Vanuatu take your future into your hands and do it YOUR WAY to support YOUR TRADITIONAL VIEWS AND YOUR WAY OF LIFE and not as wish rich foreigners seeking easy cash by exploiting your rights. There is no need to give up access to very own land and force next generations to live in poverty. Change the law, government is instrument that should serve you, not to abused you.

  13. well said Petro!

    I agree with many of your claims. One is reducing the land lease period. The key point that needs to be added here is to value to land YEARLY! This hasnt happened in many V places since the 1970’s, if at all. If the land lease is paid yearly, at a significant percentage of say 5% and on the land only component (at market value), this will deter rampant property speculation. It also will give the government a way to fund the needed services ni-Vanuatuan’s deserve (without having to tax your food and medicines like the Australian Govt advisers tell you so).

    please if you need any more assistance, do not hesitate to contact me. I wish i had more time and money to be helping you defend your lands, the lands of th epacific are being put to ransom…such a tragedy,
    Karl

  14. It’s not all so simple…I thought it was when I lived there. In western countries government corruption and conrol by organisations one is banned from speaking about is ascertainable. In Vanuatu corruption and indolence of “Ministers” is obvious only when you deal with them, when you look at who defrauded the Bank, who gets into blues regularly, how useless are the police unless they feel inclined, how readily money sees land freed and sold with lies about permenant occupation and nivans never will have the money to rebuy it….that’s not the law at all. There may be now some Torrens title. The independance was foolishly done, too soon, ill prepared. On the other hand there are thriving businesses in Vanuatu with massive import duties.There is a western society which operated from Satans Church until the locals burned it down and it moved to black sands where its white members continue to rule in their own interests, living high on the hog and paying $40/week to a thus well paid nivan for they charge more than that an hour. There are several names I recognised immediately as shonky solicitors and others from Australia..and on one can go. You cannot trust the government with increased income. It’s all well and good to speculate religiously entranced nonsense about land and taxes when there are god only knows how many varieties of religious parasites sects are spruiking and hawking there,…14 is it?, selling “god” on a basis Jesus wouldn’t recognise…the jews back at the time of the fictitious abraham might…. The local law was considerably superior to the Western and Judeo based law. the government and entrenched business live off investment money of private, criminal and overseas governments.The local chiefs are ot silly and some quickly suss a new person out…Little of what they get for the land goes to their people….it’s also hard to share a Toyota and a year’s fuel among 200 people.The corruption has been long in Vanuatu and the opportunism continues…so be it.The American based corruption concerning Santos a couple of years back was on a scale of Grandeur crooks like deRothshild would have applauded.Stability and a visioon enacted for work, hygeine and dignity are certainly required. The majority of ni vans are poor,daily seeing lavish life styles of expat. Murder is commonplace especially when chinese nationals come to undersell food, rice cement and so on.The entrenched opposition has them murdered. Tinned food from Chinese markets is often disgusting and the Triad rules there, using Vanuatu as a base for illegal chinese entry to NZ and Australia. That could be cleaned out but the politicians and police couldn’t give a toss. Plenty will talk about it all but no one wants it to change except the ring-ins who live in some variation of pixieland or religious waffleland…and what they want is simply an uncontrollable mess….but so long as the church plate rattles these ruiners of peace will continue to postulate their ignorance. Sadly “Islam” is becoming more and more visible…there’s always some religious leech or another who learned the mantras in places like the Pacific Islands.Someone wants them to stop speaking French and English and speak Bislama. I will not speak this pigeon English devised by missionaries and expats too lazy to learn the local lingo. Bislama to me is demeaning of the people and almost useless elsewhere…English and French language can expand the nivan balloon in the outer world, though few will ever visit it.They speak bislama, yes but hundreds are expert also with French. Finally Vanuatu is essentially a cost to the rest of the world, living very much on government aid.Land and businesses grow from that aid, however corruptly the money is “allocated”. Vanuatu is and will continue to be westernised and largly French in outlook even though heads were still rolling from the guillotine until the 1950’s I was told. Sadly a low class of tourist is attracted there and vd is high. Women, especially older, come for a black male experience and will pay well for it. Men get a better deal. I have quite a sense of what will ‘help’ in Vanuatu.They have such talented workers when trained but no proper training. The government couldn’t give a toss, in my experience, the ministers are doing just fine….living as kings of old might. The lesser nivans are not so silly as to live on beachfronts and that’s why beachfront was carved up.So much could be written but my somewhat disjointed letter covers some skerricks.It’s all very well to feel epowered asa do gooder but look at your own country, then Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and others “democracy” has raided and ruined and think about he indoctrination you carry.By the way, nivans can speak for themselves you know….

  15. By the way the land ownership is NOT the same as in Canberra at all….Later on the 75 years was mentioned. Here’s the heart of it…No sum of leases for a portion of land shall in any way exceed 75 years. Once the lease period has expired the land must be returned to the customary owner with all improvements intact and rentable, commensurate with age. Maintenance shall be undertaked in the lease period. The clear inference is that if you say “stuff them” and burn down the property you will be liable to rebuild.Unless the land is Torrens and excluded in some fashion..this is the general rule…ignored by nivans, ministers, so called “land agents”..and clients are lied-to about the reality.The law may be circumvented and ignored but it exists. When and if an agent tells you the lease recommences at 75 years when you buy it I suggest you get local legal advice because the “sum total of all leases not to exceed 75 years” does not allow 75 years to be reborn at every sale.I think the sharp witted and deprived next generation might be on your doorstep telling you your 75 years is up and it would be sage to be legally sure of your position. As for taxes etc…Vanuatu doesn’t depend on them and it does encourage expansion, growth and money…all the things the cargo cult has loved forever.

  16. Westerners by and large are aquisitive and have been speculating island lands for hundeds of years. When you speak of taxing you have to speak of alienated land else the customary owners will also have to pay…generally impossible.I am often tempted to buy land in Vanuatu typically at Vial and avoiding snake hill…which has some magic fertility and water but the heat and humidity is devestating over a period unless you are aircon’d of course.

    Yes the $US60M was always going to be a land swarmer and Americans are right in the thick of opportunism…like awaiting Castro’s death to rape the Cuban coastline.Personally I think Lini was right out of his depth. The introduction of Libya etc would red flag the US bull.and the culture is radically different Americans think they own the Pacific because their rel’s fought there…they also think they were the heros of PNG but the Australians actually defeated the Japanese with some Americans under Australian command. Some of the Americans couldn’t even fire a rifle and had to be retrained in Australia…a bit like the clown who commanded them and tragically,supremely, the Aussies… Macarthur.A hopeless case in such environments he was personally the cause of Nth Korea going atomic.An Australian designed the air tactics used by the Americans and America is a long way from Valuatu..though about to house 2500 of its meatheads in Darwin so Obama can ensure Pacic control “forever”.

    Brits and Americans scoured the islands later for plane wrecks and body parts, selling videos of pilot and crew’s last resting place to their loved ones for huge sums and selling body parts to the Japanese for ceremonies.The people still live in Vanuatu which organised the travesty.

    You speak of aid and those who use it. I wouldn’t concern myself about the canadians, they are marginally more moral than the US.The usual American spies are entrenched on the Island posing as aid workers…it’s all over and done!!

    Drug dealers posing as social engineers for peace are active on exporting Kava. This brain deadening slop is said to be “less violent” than alcohol…it may be after you have been smacked in the jaw by its Joe Palook fist but it isn’t non violence causing.Purporting to create clean (non hepitis carrying) brew these criminal minds present this crap as something the world should welcome.It’s traditional…let’s leave it there chilling out the locals who have little future…but at work on Monday thy are not worth a dinar after Friday Kava…How naiive are other governments allowing this slop into further brain soften the population.I agree it might be less unsettling than Tusker but it isn’t what it’s claimed to be by the expat soaks who use it.I have heard all the rave reviews..it leaves me cold and I wonder when I see scantily clad beauties taken for Kava by amorous expats…she might be stunned…but he isn’t and she’ll be feeling around next day to see what happened last night….if her brain is unfuzzed.It’s not addictive…people just yearn for it for the colour.Recommended by the local missionaries…just like Jesus would have done!!

    As for increasing wages…highly skilled trades would go to $46 within 5 years…wow!!…that’s if they get paid, usually overtime is likely not to be, one can never tell.Perhaps the expat who is only charged 19c an hour can advise us but hen office costs are taken into account we are talking about Australian sized chargeout rates…that’s why the whities own the boats and huge houses and live high on the hog and the nivns live up to a hundred or so in a building the same size as 4 whities.

    You can’t rationally expect the locals to rule the place properly under white influence and control of resources.The culture of being “down” is endemic.That’s why I tlk about “pixieland”…we are generally shocked and distressed but our interference is likely to worsen things.The Federal police cannot impprove the local police and while at work sometimes the Feds are robbed.Standover merchants from another island flood the police force and the “security” people…houses are targetted and robbed to sell “security”..the police are useless and I think two were involved in a bank fraud along with 2 politicians.They were notoriously useless during the machete attacks back in 2007.No longer though can murder and mayhem be returned as once was…The resolution of sexual aberrations is much more potent, forward looking and civilised than the west, where we like to bemoan sexual crimes forever and guild them up…they get on with life…a pig or two in recompense or if really over the top a nullnull.They don’t need porn to get it up…well unless Karva affected…but there are local underground partner swappers in the expat community. It’s a bit like they are the audience at a western play…I applaud the work increases about which you speak but at the birthrate….I’d say they are falling behind.There’s plenty of scope for property maintenance run by nivans….bypassing the white bludgers but again whom can one trust?

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