MSG responds to “misrepresentation”

Director General Leonard Louma

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat says there are no Indonesians recruited at the Secretariat, nor has it made any decision nor an official announcement to this effect.

The Secretariat has 30 positions on its approved structure, 13 of which are vacant.

It says savings have been identified from within the existing budgetary resources and arrangements are now being made to recruit MSG nationals to fill four of these positions in the first Quarter of this year. The Secretariat will still need to find resources to enable it to fund the other nine vacant positions. 

The Indonesian Government, as an Associate Member of the MSG, has expressed interest in assisting the Secretariat fund and fill two of the thirteen currently vacant positions – namely the Private Sector Development Officer and Manager – Arts, Culture and Youth Programme.

The Secretariat confirmed all these are contained in briefs provided to both the Vanuatu Foreign Minister Jotham Napat and the Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, in their capacity as Chairs of the respective MSG Governing Bodies.

“The Secretariat is very much aware of the sensitivities relating to this particular matter and, if a decision is to be made, Indonesia’s generous offer will be processed in ways that is mutually satisfactory, comfortable and beneficial to MSG Members’ interests.”

“In doing so, the Secretariat has strongly noted the stand made by the Vanuatu Prime Minister and current MSG Chair, Ishmael Kalsakau, that the recruitment of Melanesians be prioritised.”

“As advised by the MSG Chair, recruitment will only be done outside the region should there be a lack of skills and qualifications required of these positions. There are no qualms that the MSG Chair’s stand is one that the Secretariat respects and will adhere to.”

The Secretariat noted it is unfortunate that some in the media continue to “stoke misunderstandings” on this issue by “disseminating half-truths” on the Secretariat’s efforts to improve its capacity.

The Secretariat currently has two non-MSG nationals assisting on two specific projects. The engagement of non-MSG nationals is provided for under the Secretariat’s Staff Regulations. It states in part, “All appointments to professional positions of the Secretariat are restricted to MSG nationals except where donor funding requirements allow for recruitment outside of the MSG region.”

In relation to the position of Director General, the MSG Leaders had decided in 2015 that this will no longer be on rotational basis but be appointed on merit-base. The Secretariat stressed the current Director General’s appointment was made on that basis.

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