Current Events

Shaun Gilchrist provides a roundup of recent happenings

Shaun Gilchrist

It seems like an all too well used cliché, but what a di erence a month makes. Not only here in Vanuatu, but internationally as well. Domestically we have seen further progress on the Revenue Review Programme of the Vanuatu Government and internationally the events of the US Presidential election seem to have taken the attention of most media savvy people.

It appears that the result of the US election was an all but foregone conclusion. Then enter the FBI Director and a resurgence in rural voters and here we are now with Donald Trump as the President Elect. Whilst this will obviously have some impact on Vanuatu mid-term as a result of the change in US policy after 8 years of Democratic presidency, regardless of the outcome we need to allow the incoming President and Congress 6 months to prove their worthiness.

Personally I have bigger concerns with growing my business here in Vanuatu which has a broader effect on me and my family and employees. Whilst I will continue to watch this with interest, I won’t be letting it take over my life and social life.

On the domestic front the Revenue Review continues to move forward. I was fortunate enough to attend one of briefings at the National Convention Centre. It was good to see the information presented and what was even better was to see some serious feedback from Ni-Vanuatu business owners as to their views, not just a group of the same expats.

One point which really stood out for me was the comparison between Vanuatu and our neighbouring countries (Including Australia and NZ) on taxation rates. The point that a rate was chosen that was “middle of the field” was noted, however what was not noted was the level of services received in each country for the taxation paid. By the review’s own admission the tax will not be increasing expenditure on core infrastructure (roads, water, etc.), rather filling the shortfall in revenue for the incurred debt which is due for payment from 2020 onwards.

Perhaps I have missed something here, however when you pay/increase taxation those paying it expect something in return for it. There still appears to be a long way to go before this process is completed, however I am advised that the bill will be presented to Parliament in March 2017 for a July “go live”. So as usual let’s continue to “watch this space”.

A very positive piece of news has been the finalisation and confirmation of Government funding for the VAN2017 Mini Games to be held here in Port Vila in December of 2017. Whilst committed to some years ago, the funding has been a challenge for some time. The Government recently completed its end of the deal and has confirmed the full funding for Clint Flood and his team at VAN2017, so things are now 100% go.

If you have not taken the time, jump on their website and have a look: www. they are doing some great work and this is going to be an amazing opportunity to showcase not only Sport and Sportspeople of Vanuatu, but Vanuatu as a whole to the region. It will be telecast and will include Australia and NZ as well. So get in behind it and let’s make this a positive event for Vanuatu. On the business front there has been some good and not so good news of recent. We have seen the recent situation of Evergreen Tours being placed into administration which, like any business going through that process, is both unfortunate and challenging for all staff concerned.

On the positive front here have been a few property and business transactions that have occurred or are occurring.

One of the larger is the pending sale of TVL, which has all but been kept quiet in both the media and social media. From all reports Vodafone Fiji are still completing Due Diligence and we should all “watch that space”.

There is one other large sale currently under contract as we go to press and pending all factors working out will see a long established company here in Port Vila change hands at the end of November. We will provide more detail on that in our next edition. Finally, the sale of Velit Bay in Santo by Ronan Harvey to Chinese interest has been long in the making. The property, which is one of the finest in Santo, has been on the market for the past 3 to 4 years.

In conclusion, no matter what is happening around you in business, you should always keep a clear mind and focus on your business. It is important to know what the external factors are, especially your competitors and to a lesser degree governmental changes. But never allow those external factors to become the predominant and preoccupying factors in your day-today life. This will only take the focus off your business.

Stay positive, look for the opportunities and keep feeding back your feedback to the Tax Reform Committee.

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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