Michael Kalmet, a Vanuatu Trade Commissioner, has issued an open statement is response to the recent press release by the Office of the Opposition regarding his agreement with Vanuatu Property and Migration Services (VPMS) to appoint him as Trade Commissioner for VT6.5 mln in cash.
“On April 2017 I approached the Ministry of Trade Officials and asked if the Vanuatu Government could help me in any way possible, as business travels around Asia and Europe becoming a real issue, and immigration clearances take nearly 4 hours each stop. As a Ni-Vanuatu businessman, I do face a lot of issues, especially with the Vanuatu Green Passport on my travels overseas. The Vanuatu Passport has issues with immigration in some areas in Asia, especially within China,” Michael Kalmet says in his statement.
“I sought help from the Office of the Prime Minister, but unfortunately they were not that helpful and after many meetings with government reps, still noone was able to support me with a solution. During the second week of May 2017, I was directed to George Iapson to talk to him whether the Ministry of Trade could help.
“A request was put forward by the 1st PA of the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business, George Iapson, to appoint me as a Trade Commissioner within Guangdong Province, China. I do know proper procedures were followed to the request and the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business facilitated to the point of sending a letter requesting the appointment to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Lengkon.
“I was told later by associates of the DPM, Joe Natuman, that the DPM knew nothing about the request and knew nothing about the appointment, which is disappointing given I have done everything asked of me by my facilitators, namely George Iapson and associates.
“I have requested on numerous occasions to meet Minister Lengkon and go through the appointment, but was told by Iapson and associates that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not yet available. Before my appointment was signed by Foreign Affairs, I was asked to pay VT100,000 as a signing fee.
“The appointment letter was finally delivered to me, signed by Minister Lengkon, but to my dismay, it was delivered directly to my residence at that time here in Port Vila. I was thinking of meeting the DPM who would officially hand me my appointment, but that never eventuated because he knew nothing about it.
“I was told that I needed to pay 20 million Vatu for the passport after my appointment and I told them I do not have that kind of money, and the amount later dropped to VT6.5 million which I agreed to pay. At the time, George Iapson, confidently told me that there are provisions in the law for this and that there is a cost involved and Vanuatu Property and Migration Services (VPMS) will facilitate all this for me,” Michael Kalmet says.
“I in good faith thought this was genuine but as the weeks became months, still there was no word of me receiving the passport which I had already paid for, and I am still waiting for the passport as I have already paid for it. I was told on numerous occasions that the DPM was fully aware of all this, however, I began to suspect that the DPM had no idea about the appointment as the Ministry of Trade have not tried to get in contact with me and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not yet contacted me to go for briefings. I do know that Minister Bruno Lengkon, George Iapson, Cameroon Sam and John Tau are arranging all this for me and I am still waiting for the passport. I do not mind paying for anything but as I have been told now that I am entitled to a passport and did not need to pay, however, I am still waiting and ask that VPMS fulfill their part of the agreement,” Michael Kalmet concluded.