Prioritise recruitment of skilled Melanesians: Vanuatu PM

Vanuatu Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau

Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, who is also chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat has stressed any future employment within the MSG Secretariat must be sourced from MSG member countries.

“We must first look within our region, if we have people with required skills,” he said.

“If the Melanesian region does not have those skills sets for any upcoming job then we can look beyond our region.”

PM Kalsakau made it clear to MSG Director General, Leonard Louma that the MSG needs to be more vocal on issues affecting our region.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that we are a strategic bloc to be reckoned with,” PM Kalsakau said.

“We have a huge land mass, population and natural resources. Therefore, we need to be more vocal and energise towards ensuring that the region gets as much attention as it can.”

This comes after DG Louma had responded to a Daily Post article on 11 January, 2023 titled, “VFWPA eyes protest against Indonesian recruitment at MSG”, in which the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA) threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the MSG Secretariat pursues its plan to recruit Indonesians.

He stated that saying only Melanesians should work at the MSG Secretariat is like saying that only Pacific Islanders should work at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, adding it is disingenuous to suggest such a notion.

The DG said the MSG Secretariat has engaged non-Melanesians in the past to work on specific projects to implement decisions made by Leaders.

He confirmed two non-Melanesians are assisting them on two specific projects and said the MSG Secretariat’s Staff Regulations, which were endorsed by the Governing Bodies, provide for recruitment of persons outside the MSG region.

On the issue of West Papua, PM Kalsakau was told that the position of each member states differs from the other countries and there is no joint position and as a result the MSG Secretariat has left the West Papuan issue to national governments.

“This is different from human rights abuse which the MSG leaders have agreed for the United Nations (UN) to send a team to West Papua,” said DG Louma.

PM Kalsakau questioned DG Louma on why West Papua should be treated differently.

According to PM Kalsakau, if they are given full membership, it will enable them to properly address their concerns to the group.

He also said that FLNKS in New Calédonie who is a member of the MSG will soon take up an office space at the Secretariat office in Port Vila.

Vanuatu wants to recruit foreign doctors

Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Public Service Commission (PSC) plans to bring in overseas doctors to work in Vanuatu like the arrangement done with Solomon Island nurses.

This was conveyed by the PSC Secretary, James Melteres. He stressed there are health services that needs to be improved.

He said discussions have been held on the possibility of getting doctors from New Caledonia, but they will also be requesting support from other countries.

Secretary Melteres said this need for doctors will be brought up in a dialogue between Vanuatu’s Prime Minister and the Australian PM. He said the PSC Chairman will accompany the PM to Australia on this tour soon.

Melteres said they working with the Vanuatu Health Promotions to prepare a document on Vanuatu’s need for overseas doctors for the dialogue.

Vanuatu recruited many Solomon Island nurses in 2019 to address a serious shortage of healthcare workers in rural and urban areas.

At that time, Mahe was heading the Commission.

The Solomon nurses came through an arrangement between PSC and the Ministry of Health.

The majority of these nurses have had their contracts renewed in 2021. Apart from nurses, Vanuatu has only a few doctors of its own. There is need for more doctors in rural areas.