At the outset let me join the Master of Ceremony to thank you for accepting our invitation and to welcome you to witness this special event today.
It is my great honor as the Head of Government to give a small remark this morning on this historical occasion to mark the official handing over of the Vanuatu National Convention Center by the Chinese Government.
Today marks a historic day for the Government and people of Vanuatu. This Convention Center is an eye opener for our people and I believe for visitors to our shores as it is one of its kind in the region.
At this juncture I wish to acknowledge the custodians of this land who have supported the government in its endeavours throughout the years and continue to support it by allowing for this important undertaking to materialise on this land.
I also wish to acknowledge former leaders of the Government of Vanuatu for the vision to have such a facility.
I am informed that the idea for Vanuatu to have such a facility was conceptualised back in 2009. After much negotiations within government and the Government of the Republic of China we witnessed the official ground breaking of the project in January 2013. Just over Three (3) years after we are all gathered here today to witness the handing over ceremony of this gigantic building from the Government and people of the Republic of China to the Government and people of the Republic of Vanuatu a clear evidence of the strength of the relations forged between our two nations.
The Government of Vanuatu acknowledges the Chinese Government’s continued contribution towards the development assistance program, implemented in the framework of economic and technical cooperation which has contributed to Vanuatu’s social and economic development.
Excellency, please convey our sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to the Government and people of the Peoples Republic of China for your contribution to our development efforts. The Government of Vanuatu will ensure that this good relations is maintained and will do its utmost to see the relations grow from strength to strength in the years to come.
Excellencies ladies and gentlemen, this massive Chinese grant aid funded structure boasts a 1,000 seat auditorium, 600 seat fully equipped restaurant and kitchen facility, 200 seat press conference room, 4 side meeting rooms and a VIP room. The facility is also equipped with a state of the art movie theatre system and facility to host performances by local and visiting artists from the region and further abroad.
I strongly believe that once it is fully operational Vanuatu will be in a better position to bid for and attract more regional and international meetings to our shores. I call on those who will be managing and using the facility to do so with pride. I further call on all arms of government, the private sector local groups and communities to make full use of this facility for your purposes as well as a promotional tool for Vanuatu.
In closing, I wish to acknowledge the hard working team of the Jiangsu Construction Company for delivering this facility within the agreed timeframe despite damages to equipment and building materials as a result of the devastating tropical cyclone which hit as early last year. We thank you for your excellent workmanship and for keeping to your promise to employ ni-Vanuatu to be part of the workforce. This gesture I must add has helped significantly in the welfare and livelihood of the 100 plus ni-Vanuatu who have worked with you and their families. I believe that they will put skills they have learnt over the last 3 years with you into good use.
I wish to also acknowledge the hardwork of the small taskforce established to oversee this mammoth project. It was not an easy road after some 8 years since its conception, but you pulled through – tankio tumas for your dedication and a job well done.
Finally thank you again to the continued cordial relations between Vanuatu and China which has led to the positive support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to the Government and people of Vanuatu. It is the wish of this government to see this grow from strength to strength.