Political Stability at a cost

The completion of the four-year term of the Charlot Salwai-led Government not only reflects the return of optimism, but has also created what could possibly be a decade long stability on the political scene in Vanuatu.

It is everyone’s wish that the country enjoys stability. But the question remains unanswered is that - what was the cost of stability?

2019 may be negative depending on different opinions either in business, politics, sports, agriculture, tourism, and the economy. But when looking back to politics and economy in Vanuatu, political stability and continuation of economic policies are crucial.

A stable government is always something every country wanted and for Vanuatu it’s a few decades since a government successfully completed its term once again.

The 2016 snap General election in Vanuatu was the beginning of the walk to restore stability within the political arena in Vanuatu and after all it seems that the Pele agreement that was made after the 2016 elections seems to have survived the entirety 11th legislature.

Prime Minister Salwai made a number of reshuffles during his term and the reasons behind them was to maintain ‘political stability’ and ensure that growth and developments can continue. One of the biggest moves in the reshuffles was when he kicked Vanua’aku Party out of the coalition led and replaced them with the Leaders Party Vanuatu (LPV) MPs.

But yes the people spoke and questions and concerns exploded about ‘political stability at a cost’. That cost saw the PM making sacrifices to keep all parties within the government intact. And it’s those who want to be in power, it’s those who want a portfolio, it’s those who want a position in an institution – it’s that same hunger for power that forced the PM to appoint the Parliamentary Secretary positions.

The Court ruled that the Parliamentary Secretary (PS) appointments are unconstitutional. An astonishing huge amount previously reported by the Vanuatu Daily Post revealed that around VT5,000,400 is the salary of a PS annually.

The ‘political cost’ of creating parliamentary secretaries may be wrong legally but politically, economically and socially the political cost certainly is to maintain stability.

If the politicians want a position then it means they want money and that money is likely to be used on their supporters. It’s a challenging decision that the PM had to take to ensure everyone is happy and so there is no crossing of floors inside parliament so that stability can be maintained.

When it comes to integrity only a few leaders stood their grounds to show pure class leadership. Member of Parliament (MP) for Tanna Johnny Konapo demonstrated the act by stepping down immediately through his resignation.

It’s integrity that many leaders failed to show. It’s time political leaders who enter parliament preserve their integrity. There’s a lot of switching, and changing from the other side of parliament to the other side but it’s those change people hardly know if it’s for the good, or for the bad or worst. The current 11th legislature is praised as one of the best comprising a mixture of graduates, with religious backgrounds, and few veteran politicians with a lot of experience.

A few other highlights this year; Women have again taken to the streets calling for 50% reserved seats in parliament with a new political party for 2020.

There is no doubt that the economy is obviously going through a rough time this year, reflecting in some businesses closing down. A very sad reality for the business community who are providing jobs for local Ni-Vanuatu people. It’s the people below that suffer.

The government is making investments in developments like infrastructure not only from soft loans from partners like China but also allegedly revenue from sale of citizenships.

The Salwai government had a good opposition through Leader Ishmael Kalsakau that ensured that the mechanism of checks and balances, is maintained.

Seasoned lawyer and former Attorney General Ishmael Kalsakau had never succeeded any motion of confidence but kept his watchful eyes and demonstrated great leadership all throughout his term.

Mr. Kalsakau has kept the government answerable putting the spotlight on a number of serious issues.

Prime Minister Salwai never enjoyed a smooth ride and in particular the motions of no confidence that his government overcame.

During the end of Parliament PM Salwai thanked the opposition leader for his great leadership for keeping the government literally on its feet.

Parliament will dissolve on January 22 and election will be around March this year. A lot of spending going on allegedly part of this to do with the forthcoming elections – incumbents want to prove to promises for future spending as to why they should be re-elected.

A few political parties within the current incumbent government have taken reign and likely to prove strength for the upcoming election. Major political parties, the likes of RMC, LPV, UMP, GJP, and VP are already demonstrating leadership for voters to see.

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