16 Dec 2013

Vanuatu Christian Council criticises government for losing the nation's original vision

5:28 pm on 16 December 2013

The Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council says the government has lost sight of the nation's original vision for independence by attracting more foreign investors and approving dual citizenship.

Reverend James Ligo raised the concern during recent consultations with the National Council of Women on the future of Vanuatu following independence from France and the United Kingdom.

Mr Ligo told Beverley Tse about the church's concerns about where the government is steering the country.

JAMES LIGO: The church why the church is making all these critics on how the affairs of Vanuatu as an independent nation is being managed is simply the realisation that after 33 years of independence the government is losing sight of the original vision for independence. It is important to recall our vision for independence because I believe the foundation of Vanuatu as an independent nation was to be different - different in terms of our moral values, our governance, our social and economic relations, social and economic justice.

BEVERLEY TSE: In what way has the Vanuatu government moved away from the original vision?

JL: We are moving more into opening up for foreign investment, more and more foreign investment into the country, which, in one way, is good for the country because our economy depends on that also. But the power to control foreign investment and the degradation of our natural resources is something that we are worried about. Because we believe that god has given that for us to have and to benefit from in a sustainable way.

BT: So do you think foreign nations could take advantage of our natural resources and Vanuatu could lose its control over it?

JL: Definitely it's losing sight. It's losing sight of what has given us, through our independence, affirmation. Our national economy depends on our national resources. And I'm not saying that foreign investment is not a good thing. Of course our economy depends on that. But there has to be some control in place and economic justice should also be distributed equally or should be seen as a priority to our government, and especially our parliamentarians and the decision that comes from the parliament.

BT: The government has approved dual citizenship. Do you think this issue ties in with your concerns?

JL: Yes, I believe that that has connections with losing sight of our original petition for independence. I say that because dual citizenship has been endorsed by parliament. One of the reasons I believe this dual citizenship concept was adopted is because the current government believes it will bring in more investors. And one of the reasons why the church disagrees is simply the fact that not enough consultation was done by the government to the wider population on the negative effects this will bring.