Petition to cut quarantine costs

Seasonal workers in New Zealand have petitioned the Vanuatu Government to cut quarantine costs in Vanuatu.

The workers petitioned the Government through the Vanuatu High Commission in New Zealand, requesting quarantine costs for one night be cut from from VT13,000 to VT10,000 and from VT7000 to VT5000.

The workers also requested the Government cut the 14 day quarantine period required on return to Vanuatu back to seven days.

Mansen William, a seasonal worker who is in New Zealand, told VBTC that the cost of quarantining in Vanuatu after travelling abroad for work is too high.

He says while workers make good money in New Zealand, when they return to Vanuatu, exchange rates mean their savings shrink when they are converted to vatu.

Mr William says for six months work in New Zealand, seasonal workers could receive a minimum wage of one million vatu which is NZD12,346 [New Zealand dollars].

But he says that converts to just to VT700,000 once exchanged.

For a single room quarantine in Vanuatu, a worker pays around VT98,000 for 14 days quarantine. And a double room costs around VT182,000 for 14 days quarantine.

The Vanuatu Commissioner of Labour, Muriel Metsan Meltenoven, says the workers’ petition is a genuine request and the labour department will take it to the Government for consideration.

“Once we receive the petition, this request from our workers in New Zealand, we will submit it to the Vanuatu COVID-19 Advisory Committee or the Health Emergency Advisory Committee to consider,” Mrs Meltenoven said.

The Acting Director General for the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Dr Posikai Samuel Tapo, says current health advice does not recommend reducing Vanuatu’s quarantine period to less than the current 14 days.

He says any reduction in the quarantine period would only be considered by the Ministry of Health in the light of the COVID-19 vaccination rate in Vanuatu.

“So, we encourage people in the country to get the vaccine because that will determine whether we can reduce the quarantine period for people arriving in the country,” Dr Tapo says.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Johnny Koanapo, says the Government will consider the workers’ petition.

“I haven’t seen the petition as yet,” he said.

“The Council of Ministers needs to discuss this petition as I believe our people deserve the Government’s attention.

“We are their Government so we should give due positive consideration to them.”

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