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Regional Pacific news with an eye to Solomon Islands

A round-up of regional Pacific news this week broadcast by Radio New Zealand International focused on events close to home in the Solomon Islands and are worth mentioning.

An advocacy group in Papua New Guinea has launched a petition calling on the new parliament to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption within 100 days of taking office.

Legislation to set up the commission was passed by the government in 2015, but the office was never created.

“It is estimated about 50 percent of the government’s annual development budget is stolen every year.

“In 2016 alone, the police reported that about 1.5 billion Kina went missing.”

PNG is ranked in the bottom 20 percent of all countries for corruption by Transparency International.

In Tonga a yacht with 1.4 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted by the French navy.

A report in a New Caledonia’s newspaper said the operation was launched a week ago when a navy vessel was sent out in a joint mission with police and customs officials.

The report of Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes gave no details of where the yacht was caught but it said it happened several days ago and four people were detained.

The navy vessel, Le Vendémiaire, returned to its Noumea base yesterday, Tuesday, with dozens of masked military men guarding the offloading of the drugs which have been moved to an undisclosed destination for destruction.

Four detained people are to be presented to a prosecutor shortly.

The European Union wants its aid and development to the region to be better targeted to the Pacific.

The EU is preparing for the end of the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed by the 78 members of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of nations in 2000.

The EU’s Post-Cotonou High Level Facilitator, Pascal Lamy, said the EU was eager to sign a new deal, but one that would have more focus on each region.

“And this implies that in terms of priorities of the partnership, issues like environmental resilience, like ocean management, like sustainable agriculture or sustainable energy, all will probably feature, because they are more Pacific specific, higher than they did in the previous partnership.”

Mr Lamy, is touring the Pacific to gauge Pacific island countries views on what should be in the treaty.

He said the EU was keen to renew it for a number of reasons.

Sustainable Development Goals within which we can have a lot of co-operation with these Pacific countries, especially given the prominent issues like climate change, ocean sustainability now have, whereas they hadn’t that importance 20 years ago when the previous agreement, Cotonou, was negotiated.”

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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