Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Cooperatives, Joe Natuman and Australian High Commissioner, Jenny Da Rin, jointly launched an impressive fully furnished new concrete building with three additional bedrooms at a cost of Vt1.3 million, to bring the total number of bedrooms of Tafea Guest House in Port Vila to 18 last Friday.
High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin said, “Just over three years since Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu and I was in Canberra working on Vanuatu and I was one of the people who negotiated the recovery package for Vanuatu. “It’s been very satisfying for me to be able to come here and see the project we talked about with the Government actually being built.
“Last year and this year we are seeing fantastic progress in the rebuilding of important public buildings and businesses around the country that were damaged by cyclone Pam. And we hope that by the end of this year we will largely have completed that work. That will include 19 cooperative buildings with Vt20 million allocated to that including Vt1.3 million that has been spent on this building here”.
The High Commissioner agreed with the Director of Cooperatives. Ridley Joseph, that the project is a partnership between the Governments of Vanuatu and Australia. “We allocated the funding but that funding went through Government systems that made decisions on how it was spent”, she said.
She said using local contractors enabled the funding to provide businesses and jobs and for locals and enabled money to filter through to local communities and individual households.
“For us it is not just about the building, the building is a wonderful thing but what I and my colleagues are most proud of is that it made a significant development impact as well and that’s what this partnership is all about”, she added.
She also commented on the Director’s remarks concerning “supporting business” saying business is the driver of the economy and without business, the economy will not grow. “Cooperatives play a really important part in that. So to have aspects like this building and generate an income for the cooperatives is very important and this is what this new building will do. It will allow a resource for the community but it will also generate an income for the cooperative which is a small business”, she said.
“And we are very proud to have supported bungalows to reestablish themselves and we are proud to have funded tourism businesses to bring the tourists back so these are all very important for the economy of Vanuatu”.
In his remarks the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Coopratives said he has not forgotten March 13 2015, when he received a phone call from then Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbot who assured him that Canberra was ready to work with Vanuatu to rebuild the country. He also received a similar assurance from the New Zealand Prime Minister in Wellington. He thanked both countries for their reconstruction efforts.
He said when Prime Minister Charlot Salwai took office, he announced three priorities which were neglected by previous governments.
• To rebuild facilities which were destroyed by the cyclone including cooperatives.
• To rebuild Bauerfield to allow international flights to land as Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue both suspended their flights.
• To work to assure OECD to remove Vanuatu from the “grey list”. It is important that the country is moved away from there to avoid being black-listed.
Director of Cooperatives Ridley Joseph thanked the Government through the Ministry of Cooperatives and the Australian Government through High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin, for the joint partnership which resulted in the new concrete building.
He also thanked Governance for Growth Director Clinton “for making this a reality”.
While cooperatives come at the bottom of the list for implementation of recovery funds, the Director said good things come with time and in time.
Tafea Guest House and Malampa Guest House are believed to be the only guest houses that are open today.