THE sad tale of Andrew Hibgame and his company Recycle Corp (Vanuatu) is a major loss for Port Vila and Efate in more ways than one.Firstly, he set up the company up professionally so it was the only one here really removing any significant amounts of scrap metal, which is a blight on any society. That was doing the government and the people a major favour at no cost to the government or the people.
Secondly he was employing 35 Ni-Vanuatu who no longer have a job, which means that lack of income to families translates into problems over school fees and a raft of other financial issues.
Andrew’s story will spread around Australia and that will discourage other Australians from coming here to open businesses and invest money into an economy that can do with every vatu it can attract. And it will also mean Ni-Vanuatu will miss out on jobs that would have been created by new businesses.
A despondent Andrew told WW this week that he had done everything by the book and had even gone to the VAT office before he started the business four years ago to ask if what he wanted to do would attract any VAT.
He was told emphatically ‘No.’
So he went ahead and began the business until ‘a new kid on the block’ at the VAT office decided, against all international logic, that the exported waste metal was to be classed as second hand goods and thus would attract a 12.5 per cent VAT tax. WW understands this guy, who clearly has some clout, is ruffling plenty of business feathers around town with a series of irrational decisions.
Finally, a government minister promised Andrew a letter that would ensure he did not have to pay any VAT. Despite repeated promises, this letter never materialised.
So, Sayonara Andrew, Recycle Corp and 35 local jobs - and the cruellest cut of all is that the government doesn’t really give a damn. What’s more, categorising recycled scrap metal as second hand goods makes us a global laughing stock.
EVERY country has its share of what WW calls ‘nongheads’. These are people who wear socks under thongs (flip flops or jandals) or sandals, think it’s funny to make fart jokes or believe a good meal is a heaped plate of food. Or the other group of drongos that say things like: “Can I take you back to the ship?’’ when you have a bunch of car keys in one hand and your residency renewal papers in the other.
So if you get WW’s drift, then we can deal with some nongheads who emerged in recent weeks.
A top level function in Port Vila recently called for ‘formal dress’ on its invitation. WW considers this is one of the least formally dressed countries on the planet, which it generally finds attractive. But WW believes that 'formal' here for a male would be acceptable if it included long trousers, shoes and socks together with a collarerd shirt.
Many of the attendees wore a shirt, tie and jacket. If the word formal was on an invite in Melbourne, Sydney or Auckland, then the guest would automatically wear a dinner suit with all the trappings. What is totally unacceptable – even for laid-back ex pats – is board shorts and thongs at a formal function.
Those drongos/ peasants need to wake up.
BUT the drongo of the week award goes to a female expat who attended the admirable Vanuatu womens’ beach volleyballers’ fundraiser at the Aquana Beach Resort last weekend.
These girls are getting closer to a fairytale of making it to London in July, so all and any funds raising is admirable and absolutely necessary if these girls are to realise their Olympic dream. Naturally for such a great cause, there was a plethora of prizes donated for the raffle that ensued.
Fast forward to early this week and a casino boss came back to his office to find a parcel on his desk with a rude note saying the prizes were not good enough, so they were being returned. Inside he found caps, T-shirts and other promotional material... from the other casino. So, not only had she returned the prize to the wrong place, but she had completely missed the point of the fundraiser. If she didn’t want the prize for whatever reason, she could have simply asked for it to be re-raffled.
A COLLEAGUE was down at the wharf during the arrival of the cruise ship on Wednesday and said the hard work of the two police officers on duty had to be commended. She said while the buses and taxis came at them from all directions, the officers stood their ground and order prevailed. There were no fights and passengers disembarked in peace, with the right ambience for a day’s sightseeing in and around Port Vila.
So it can be done and WW hopes it’s the start of more orderly conduct on cruise ship days.
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