Current Events

Shaun Gilchrist

Shaun Gilchrist provides a roundup of recent happenings

Whilst taxation is the key topic amongst the broader business community. It is a topic that I keep reminding those who raise it with me that is still in the stages of discussion.

It appears that the case for taxation is now without question within the Government and Public Service and we need to wait for the specifics, rather than jumping at shadows. Only then can we have an informed and useful debate.

The first higher profile activity that has been discussed amongst the business community is the current discussions with respect to the sale of TVL. Over the past few years, the once Vanuatu Government-owned telco has seen privatization, then sale and subsequent additional investors, and sale again.

From all reports TVL are currently in discussion with a potential purchaser and negotiations are both underway and at a critical point. Given the investment in fibre over the past few years and the competitive opening up on the market, it will be interesting for all consumers to see, should this sale proceed the changes in both supply and operation of telecommunications throughout Vanuatu.

Of a similar calibre is the pending growth in cruise ship tourism. South Seas Shipping has gone full speed ahead—unbeknownst to many of us—to secure additional arrivals in 2017 and beyond. Much of the work to develop the traffic management plan and safety and security has been driven by their team.

Not content with just that, John and the team have been looking at additional locations throughout the country for further stop-offs. Add to this the provisioning opportunities that they are working on and we now see some of the largest tourism opportunities being opened to Vanuatu in recent memory.

Whilst we have seen a great deal of comment, especially in social media, on airport matters, what is not being seen is the work being completed behind the scenes. Ever critical of many of these historical infrastructure challenges, I am amazed at the work that AVL, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the key bodies and individuals involved have been achieving.

AVL is well down the path towards a solution to move Bauerfield forward and not just patch the holes. More to the point, this is a well-organised and thoroughly investigated approach that is intent on achieving the bets outcome of Vanuatu and Vanuatu Aviation. This deserves more coverage than it’s getting.

There have been a number of potential larger business sales that were pending. The potential Erakor Island and Holiday Inn property sales have been widely discussed. There is nothing official to note here, but it appears that the original sale on Erakor Island has not proceeded, and all has gone quiet on the memorandum of understanding for the Holiday Inn.

There is however still a strong level of Asian interest in both vacant property and developed businesses at present time in Vanuatu. If managed correctly and seen to fruition, the employment, tourism and financial opportunities to Vanuatu as a result of these opportunities could be substantial, not to mention the revenue generated for the Vanuatu Government.

There are still businesses selling and some new owners entering the market. We will cover off some of these next issue.

Shaun Gilchrist is the owner of Trilogy Consultants and has been a resident of Port Vila since 2009. He is involved in a number of local business, sporting and charity organisations.

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