Pacific news in brief for June 21

Solomon Islands – pollution

Solomon Islands’ Minister of Finance and Treasury has announced vehicle owners will be taxed SBD$50 each year, as part of a new “pollution fee”.

The Solomon Star reported this fee is part of new government measures to increase revenue and tighten the tax system.

Minister Manasseh Sogavare said it will start with vehicles and then include ocean-going vessels and other engines.

Minister Sogavare said he expects this new tax policy to generate around SBD$2 million, which will go towards the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology to help them manage pollution.

West Papua – clashes

Many residents in West Papua have sought shelter in a church after clashes between security forces and West Papua independence fighters left two insurgents, a soldier and a civilian dead.

Benar News reported Indonesia’s military stated that fighting flared in Paniai regency in Central Papua province, after the West Papua National Liberation Army burned a public minivan and killed its driver last week.

Liberation Army spokesperson Sebby Sambom has denied the group committed any criminal acts in Bibida that led to the displacement of residents.

Fiji – drugs

Fiji police say cases of drug possession continue to pop up across the five policing divisions.

In a statement on Tuesday, the assistant commissioner of police operations said there had been 15 people arrested for cases of unlawful possession since the previous Friday.

Six of the 15 arrests were made in the Eastern Division following the discovery of dried leaves believed to be marijuana and white substances believed to be methamphetamine.

A further three people were arrested Tuesday morning after they were found with white substances believed to be methamphetamine.

Papua New Guinea – census

The National is reporting a 60-day grace period is in place for ‘data-cleansing’ after the Papua New Guinea census deadline on June 30.

This is in place to make sure there are no duplicates and everything is accurate.

The Administrative Services minister has responded to complaints including hiccups at the start of the process and not enough time allocated to conduct such a massive project.

He said it would cost too much to extend the counting period with tablets, car hire, logistics and other resources being very expensive.

Meawhile, fixes have been underway for the technical issues with the thousands of tablets for PNG’s census.

The census processing assistant director Benjamin Haichim said the devices had no technical glitches and only needed to be configured properly.

He said instructions on how to configure the tablets were to be shared with provincial census coordinators and their tech staff.

Vanuatu/New Zealand – partnership

Vanuatu and New Zealand have formalised a climate flexible finance partnership.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported the partnership arrangement involves an amount of NZ$8 million, which is equivalent to 500 million vatu.

The flexible funding means that while NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides the money, the implementation of climate change activities, projects and initiatives comes from Vanuatu’s Ministry of Climate Change.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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