30 Oct 2012

Vanuatu's Pepite denies court ordered his Ministry not to pay debt

8:49 am on 30 October 2012

Vanuatu's caretaker Minister of Education Marcellino Pepite denies that the Supreme Court ordered his ministry not to pay an outstanding debt to a stationery provider.

The recent 17 million vatu payment to Snoopys Stationery has led to a ministry budget shortfall for the rest of the year with a number of schools missing out on operational funds.

A 2009 Supreme Court ruling struck out the claim by Snoopys for the payment, and the Attorney General reiterated the ruling this year.

Mr Pepite says the payment is an example of government supporting local business.

"There is no court order. It's a legal payment. The only thing is, it's happening now when we have a very critical situation on funding."

Marcellino Pepite says the payment had to be made sooner or later.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu's acting Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton says that police have intelligence suggesting there will be disturbances around polling on election day.

Flanked by members of the Electoral Commission, the National Council of Chiefs and the Christian Council, Mr Caulton made the warning on national television.

While he didn't elaborate on what disturbances may be expected, he said that police will have a strong presence at polling stations across the country.