The Motion of No Confidence against Prime Minister Charlot Salwai was defeated yesterday afternoon as Parliament's Second Ordinary Session came to an end.
The motion was defeated by 37 votes from the government side and 13 votes that were in favor.
The Leader of Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau, as the mover reiterated in parliament that the motion was based on grounds: 1. The signing of Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus; 2. The possible introduction of Income Tax; 3. The failure by the government to implement the Decentralization Policy supported by the majority of the MPs; 4. The Prime Minister's tolerance of incompetence by the government ministers; 5. The Prime Minister's tolerance of corruption within the government and 6. The PM's tolerance of outstanding government revenue, totaling over Vt4 billion.
"Income tax is not the answer, after the increase of VAT by 15% the Income Tax will not only ruin, but kill investment in the country and the country will always be dependent- we shouldn't be influenced or controlled by powerful countries and be able to make decisions that will be for the benefit of the people of Vanuatu," Mr Kalsakau said.
"Regardless of our number (Opposition), we will take it to the people as it is our duty to the people because this is not only an issue of governance but also about the people-so we don't get fingers pointed at us at the end of the day."
In his response to the six reasons listed for the motion of no trust, PM Salwai said that the reasons were not valid and not 'heavy enough'.
"There have been trade agreements and WTO which is world wide was signed years ago and bigger than PACER Plus and another signed with the MSG Trade Agreements- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade responsible of PACER Plus has gone through a long process to do consultation with the private and public sectors before the paper was put through Council of Ministers who have authorized me as the Prime Minister to sign the paper, it was not a decision made by myself as PM, " Mr Salwai said.
"We have to be part of PACER Plus to be able to negotiate, if we are not in it, we cannot make negotiations."
Salwai said that the Parliament has passed a series of Conventions that remained outstanding for some 20 years. He mentioned that RSE as part of the PACER Plus agreement.
"There are 4000 people involved in the RSE and if we don't sign the PACER Plus then these people will be affected and what they are earning over there, the remittances is given back to the country's economy," he said.
Mr Salwai said that Income Tax consultation was carried out in every provinces by the Minister of Finance and his team with the public and private sector before the initiative was taken to COM.
"The COM has approved the initiative as a policy and has not implemented it yet as it needs legislation and preparations," he said.
"There are many taxes today in Vanuatu and they are all consumer taxes, there's no tax imposed on producers so we have investors coming into the country and making money and we do not tax them, while we make the people suffer with these consumer taxes. This is the real situation in the country so the Income Tax is still a policy and needs more debate on it."
PM Salwai reiterated that in the government of the day there is no political party that has won majority that can decide anytime to do changes within the government.
"We have tried every way to maintain solidarity and unity within the government because stability is very important and i want to thank leaders of political parties in the government and especially the MPs that have supported the government to carry out its work, realise and implement its policies that has resulted in many major developments and major a event, which is the Van2017 Mini Games," he said.
The PM concluded that the allegations of corruption has no evidence and the Vt4 billion outstanding was outstanding accumulated over the past years due to individuals, private and state owned enterprises having outstanding in the government revenue institutions.