Taskforces for COI Report into VNPF to be formed after Parliament: Pikioune

MP for Port Vila Kalo Seule. Photo: Youtube

By Jonas Cullwick

The two taskforces will be formed after the current session of Parliament in line with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged mismanagement and misappropriation of funds of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF).

One taskforce will look at prosecution of offenders and the other will look at reviewing the VNPF Act and regulations with the aim to tightening the law against such offenses found by the CoI.

This has been confirmed by the minister responsible for VNPF, the Minister for Finance and Economic Management, Gaetan Pikioune.

He told the Daily Post that he and the minister responsible for CoIs, the Minister for Justice and Community Services, Ronald Warsal, will work together after Parliament completed its current business to appoint people into the two taskforces.

He made this clarification following concerns expressed by a government backbencher and MP for Port Vila, Kalo Seule, about what he said was: “Non-action on the Commission of Inquiry Findings.”

In a statement issued at the weekend, MP Seule called on the government to swiftly deal with the reports and findings of those commissions of inquiries that have already been conducted into several public institutions in the country.

“Let us all know where we are in the recent inquiries into the affairs of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF), as we look forward to the outcome of the newly appointed commission of inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of Vanuatu’s European Development Fund,” he appealed to the government.

The MP for Port Vila said he was concerned that members of the society seemed to be left in the dark on the findings of the series of commission of inquiries that the government had conducted into serious allegations of mismanagement or mishandling of public affairs.

Minister Pikioune assured everyone the findings of the COI into the VNPF have completed and processed through the Development Committee of Officials (DCO) and the Council of Ministers (CoM) and it is now a public document, which copies could now be accessed by members of the public.

“The technical points still to complete is that government must appoint two taskforces – under the recommendations of the CoI.

“The first to look at the possibility of prosecution of alleged offenders implicated in the report, the second taskforce will look at reviewing the VNPF Act and regulations with the view to tightening up the law.”

“Now it is up to the Minister of Justice and Community Services responsible for COIs and myself to make these appointments.

“After the current session of Parliament we will make appointments into these two taskforces so that they can begin their tasks,” he concluded.

On the European funding of the rural electrification project, the Government through the CoM decided to investigate the alleged misappropriations of the funds. For this the Minister of Justice and Community Services has appointed a CoI and this commission has begun its task and was yet to complete its work.

Mr. Pikioune said the government had decided to act due to fears that if this matter was not cleared it could affect receipt of the EDF11 funding that normally European Union provided to support the private sector.

“This is why we are taking the steps we’ve taken to show to the European Union that government was committed to finding out where the funds went and to deal with those involved in the misappropriation of the funds.”

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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