Doing business in the Kingdom

Vuna wharf, still with no lightingVuna wharf, still with no lighting, running water, fire-fighting equipment, life buoys, fenders nor correct bio hazardous waste disposal.

Friday 6 September 2013: Spring is here and let us have a frank look at doing business in the Kingdom;  Airlines, Cruise Ships,  and Government.

Firstly a big thank you to the deputy Prime Minister,  Samiu Vaipulu (sic) for your ability to alienate the Kingdom’s airline business in what should be the busiest time of the year.

How difficult would it truly be to take up Murray McCully’s offer of helping to get the MA60 Aircraft certified to meet international standards?

How difficult would it have been for Real Tonga Airlines to have more than one qualified pilot to fly the MA60 and have a contingency plan for weather disrupts and pilot illness?

Once again the money invested by the NZ Government and local business people to promote the Kingdom will now be negated by the negative reactions to the 100’s of disgruntled tourists impacted by the oversight of an ignorant few.

Last Saturday the Kingdom welcomed another cruise ship with traditional entertainment and brass bands. Great!

What the people aren’t being told is that the Cruise Ship companies and commercial Shipping Lines are pulling back from using our facilities because we are the most expensive Port in the Pacific to call on, and simply, is not value for money.

Vuna wharf May 2013The new and existing ports fail to meet even basic international standards with no lighting, running water, fire-fighting equipment, life buoys, fenders nor correct bio hazardous waste disposal.

So where is the money going? The Ports are not re investing enough in the basic infrastructure or in repairs and maintenance because the Government demands 50% of the profit earned.

The Kingdom will never get the 50-70 cruise ships a year if it cannot meets these basic requirements. We may be fooling ourselves by offering some window dressing but behind the curtains lie these very real issues.

Unfortunately it is the people of Tonga that end up paying high costs for their imports due to the costs of our freight, as shipping companies pass on the port costs back to their clients. Government then clips the ticket again by taxing businesses once more on the freight through every customs entry.

In November 2006, the riots destroyed Nuku’alofa CDB which cost the Kingdom USD$48 million to rebuild as they call for Democracy. His Majesty King Tupou V listened to the people and their wish was granted. The first democratic election voted in the Noble Government as per the wishes of the people.

What we failed to address was to teach our politicians how to lead and direct. Traditionally we have been taught to respect and follow our King and Nobles and to work for them. Now with democratic reform it is up to the Nobles in parliament to work for and listen to voters. This voice is not being heard. The country is not going forward nor in circles, it is quietly slipping into the ocean and drowning.

I pray that our young, intelligent, qualified Tongans stand together and break our cultural shackles by peacefully challenging those around them to take responsibility to lead our beautiful country forward. Get out from beneath the foot of those holding them down and challenge the current Government to be accountable and transparent in their actions.

Let us start planting and developing the seed of growth in our young and inspire them to lead in an honest and just fashion.

If we do not stop the few from feeding in the trough there will be nothing left for our future generations nor will we see investment in the Kingdom.

Melino Maka

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