Approval has been sought for provincial and municipal councillors to respond to immediate needs using their constituency allocations. This photo of the damaged Luganvile Municipal Council building in Santo was captured by Ishmael Roberts.

All provincial and municipal councillors can use their constituency allocation of Vt500,000 for the first and second quarter of this year as part of the responses to the COVID-19 threat and cyclone Harold in their constituencies.

Director of the Department of Local Authorities, Leith Veremaito, said approval to release these funds to over 100 councillors throughout Vanuatu was sought from the caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs.

He said they have instructed councillors in provinces and municipalities affected by cyclone Harold to utilize the funds to assist those in need while waiting for relief assistance from government.

“The allocation is an entitlement for each councillor. The funds will be given to the provincial authorities to be transferred into their bank accounts,” he said.

“In the past, these funds are usually used by councilors to fund projects in communities. But this time due to the impact of COVID-19, many people affected have been approaching them for assistance.

“Therefore, we sought the approval of the caretaker minister to release the funds for them to respond immediately to their people’s needs.

“We (DLA) see that we are closer to the people and there is a need for us to respond immediately while further assistance from NDMO is forthcoming.

“The total number of councillors throughout the country is 124. Each of them are entitled to Vt1 million per year.

“A guideline on how to use the funds was developed last year.”

Director Veremaito said some of the councillors are already assisting their communities.

“We are also encouraging provincial authorities to provide additional help through their budgets, to be able to support communities quickly while waiting for further assistance,” he added.

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