23 Nov 2007

Vanuatu's Transparency International says Maritime Authority is being destoryed

4:01 pm on 23 November 2007

The President of Vanuatu's chapter of Transparency International says a special fund built on fees from ship owners is destroying the Vanuatu Maritime Authority.

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson's comment comes as government looks to pass a Bill that would repeal the Vanuatu Maritime Authority, or VMA, Act, and liquidate the Authority itself.

The VMA fears that if the 600 ships registered with the Vanuatu Shipping Registry, learn of recent advice by the Attorney general that their annual fee requirement to the Marine Participation Investigation Fund is invalid, they could leave the Registry or ask for a refund.

But Ms Ferrieux Patterson says the VMA has been guilty of misusing the Fund with excessive payments for contracts over recent years.

"So that has been like a pot of honey which seems to attract a lot of people who want to get into that statutory body and have access to these funds. They have paid themselves some salvage operations at much higher costs than what the Minister of Finance's accused of doing at the moment."

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson.