An audio of the Prime Minister’s meeting in Vava’u was provided by the Prime Minister’s office and transcribed and translated into English by Kaniva News. This English version of the audio had been abridged.
A businesswoman has raised with the Prime Minister her concerns about what she described as spouses of staff at Ministry of Immigration becoming partners with foreign business operators in Vava’u.
‘Aneti Taumoepeau asked why another business woman in Vava’u was doing businesses with Chinese, but did not own a business.
She claimed there were foreign business owners in Vava’u who did not hold the appropriate visa permits.
Taumoepeau said she was disappointed to see these foreigners succeeding when they did not go through the struggles she experienced when she started her businesses in 1990s.
Taumoepeau, who owned 12 acres of kava plants and once operated a night club and a pearl farm, told the Prime Minister foreign business operators should come to Vava’u under a business licensed category so that government could collect money from those applications.
She also complained that her businesses did not receive any funding from the government business loan scheme.
The Minister of Finance Tevita Lavemaau told Taumoepeau to contact his office so they could sort out her concerns about the scheme.
Poor airline services
A retired government director told Hon Tu’i’onetoa that tourists to Vava’u had complained because of the poor service and expensive charges imposed by the inter-island airline.
Former Director of the Ministry of Agriculture Haniteli Fa’anunu told the Prime Minister the national airline service was late and it did not keep to its schedules.
Fa’anunu, who is from Tu’anekivale, said the $30 charges imposed on international travelers to Vava’u was too much.
He suggested reconstructing the Vava’u international airport and extending it so that wide-body airliners such as Boeing 747s could land in Vava’u.
He said the international airport should move to Holonga and leave the domestic airport at Leimātu’a which is currently the international airport.
He said the roads at Tu’anekivale which tourists used were among the worst in Tonga.
Fa’anunu is the owner of the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden at Tu’anekivale.
He said the main road was too narrow and the roadside vegetation needed to be cut down and removed.
He asked the Prime Minister to repair the roads ahead of the upcoming visit of a cruise ship to Vava’u in March.
He said bus drivers always complained about the conditions of the roads.
Fa’anunu said ‘Ene’io beach was popular with tourists, as was his botanical garden.
Level of government staff
He also told the Prime Minister the level of government senior staff at Vava’u should be upgraded from OIC and additional people should be employed at deputy levels.
He said developments in Vava’u were stalled and it was a pity to see it reflected in what he described as the worrying status of the tourism industry and the labour and commerce sectors.
He said these industries were really needed for the development of Vava’u.
He told the Prime Minster to bring better educated and young government staff to Vava’u.
He said he and his house in ‘Ene’io were supportive of the Prime Minister’s government policies and priorities.
He said he was emotional when he heard on the radio that Hon. Tu’i’onetoa won the premiership election.
He praised the Prime Minister’s leadership when he led the delegation to Vava’u last week. He said it was an “indication of a very good leader.”
The Prime Minister said he has talked to two new airlines and he believed this would lead to a solution to resolve the problems with the domestic airline.
He also said his Cabinet has approved an extension of the Vava’u international airport by 1000 metres.
The Minister of Tourism ‘Akosita Lavulavu, the Minister of Police, Lord Nuku, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Lord Tu’ilakepa as well the Prime Minister thanked the Vava’uans at the meeting for sharing with them their concerns and supports.
The Minister of MEIDECC Hon Poasi Tei, who was the Master of Ceremonies, told the meeting all their concerns had been recorded and would be dealt with accordingly.
The main points
- A businesswoman has raised with the Prime Minister her concerns about what she described as spouses of staff at Ministry of Immigration becoming partners with foreigners business operators in Vava’u.
- ‘Aneti Taumoepeau asked why another business woman in Vava’u was doing businesses with Chinese, but did not own a business.