Pacific Games Council president Vidhya Lakhan and CEO Andrew Minogue visited Port Vila last week to attend the inaugural meetings of the Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games Authority and the VAN2017 Games Organizing Committee Board.
A tour of the Korman Stadium site, under construction with the support of the Chinese government, was also conducted.
The meetings follow on from Lakhan’s last visit to Port Vila in May where the PGC General Assembly was conducted. At that time, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the Hon. Charlot Salwai, publicly at the General Assembly and privately to Lakhan, reaffirmed the Vanuatu government’s commitment to hosting the 2017 Pacific Mini Games.
Since May, it is evident that good progress has been made. The parliament passed a supplementary budget in June, which provides for the operational expenses of VAN2017 through the end of this year. Work at the Korman Stadium site continues to show progress and the PGC has been assured that the venue will be completed by October 2017—two months prior to the Games.
VAN2017, through chair Mark Stafford and VASANOC, recently hired a very experienced CEO, Clint Flood, to replace the late Joe Carlo. Flood has extensive experience in previous Pacific Games, including the outstandingly successful Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games, where he served as executive manager for Games Operations. As a result of his recent appointment, detailed planning for the Games has accelerated.
Significant challenges, however, remain.
Despite the appropriation of the VAN2017 budget by the parliament in June, funds have not been transferred to VAN2017 on a regular and timely basis, which is placing at grave risk the ability of VAN2017 to successfully organize the Games.
The Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games Authority, chaired by the Minister for Youth Development and Sport Norris Jack Kalmet, unanimously agreed to present proposals to the Council of Ministers. This will fast-track the processing of funds so that this problem can be rectified urgently and in accordance with the host contract obligations entered into by the Vanuatu government, PGC and VASANOC in September 2011 and in accordance the variation agreement signed on Dec. 2, 2015, which sets the overall budget for the Games.
The host contract mandates that VAN2017 must be able to operate as an independent and autonomous entity, financially underwritten and supported by the Vanuatu government.
“I wish to personally thank the Minister for Youth Development and Sport, the Hon. Norris Jack Kalmet, and Mark Stafford for convening the inaugural meetings of the Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games Authority and the VAN2017 Games Organising Committee. I urge the Minister to capitalize on the success of these meetings and ensure, through the Council of Ministers, that the appropriated budget for VAN2017 is made available with absolute urgency otherwise the ability for Vanuatu to successfully organise the 2017 Pacific Mini Games will continue to be placed at significant risk,” Lakhan said. (PR)