The Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) Board has approved for VNPF to establish a domestic cable company with the potential of connecting Port Vila to outer islands, to improve the fund’s operations.
This was announced in the presence of the Prime Minister (PM), Bob Loughman, Minister of Finance responsible for VNPF, Johnny Koanapo, several ministers and other high government officials during the recent unveiling of the foundation stone for the new VNPF Branch office on Tanna.
While VNPF has changed its processing system, it cannot reach all members with the current cable thus, it has taken the decision to fund and manage a domestic cable company, said VNPF General Manager (GM), Parmod Achary.
“It will not be a competitor to Interchange Cable Ltd (ICL), but will support the VNPF’s operations domestically,” he said.
“For members, it will mean that collection and procession of benefits or contributions will be much easier and cheaper. Also, performance will significantly improve.
“We are thinking of connecting Port Vila to the island of Tanna firstly because we have already identified the landing station there.
“We are now working to acquire the land. We expect the task to be complete in more than a year. The cable will also be connected to other islands.
“This will improve the processing system of National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV). We have a link with NBV which has about 29 branches throughout the country.”
GM Achary also took the opportunity during the unveiling ceremony to announce that VNPF is looking at implementing a low-cost housing scheme for members on Tanna.
The low-cost housing scheme has already started on Santo with the partnership of NBV, he said.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NBV, Geoff Toone, and two other staff were also present during the groundbreaking ceremony.
GM Achary told the audience that VNPF will also be establishing a power generating company which will reduce the cost of telephone and electric usage and will bring revenue to land owners and the TAFEA Provincial Government Council (TPGC).
He conveyed that as part of this initiative on Tanna, VNPF will own majority of the shares of the company while TPGC will own 20% and 10% for landowners.
A Memorundum of Understanding (MoU) that has already been signed for TPGC to assist with the revenue collection was revised, he said.
“We (VNPF) asked them to join us in owning shares instead of assisting us with revenue collection,” he added.
PM Loughman commended VNPF for choosing to connect the southern part of the country firstly to connect to the domestic cable.
This is a strategic decision that will improve connection and also allow chiefs to become self-sufficient, he said.