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A total of 270 PEOPLE have had their first dose of the Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine at June 2 launching of the vaccination rollout, with the Ministry of Health (MoH) describing the event as an historical moment.

The first person to receive the Astrazeneca vaccine was the Leader of Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu. The second person was Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, followed by the Minister of Health, Silas Bule and including the Mayor of Port Vila, Eric Festa.

There will be an arrival of another 20,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China this weekend.

Debit Cards

All banks in Vanuatu do provide Debit card facilities to access funds in your or your company’s account. Each bank's Debit cards have different criteria for the Debit Cards issued. Below is a brief summary of what is offered by each bank.

National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV).

NBV’s Debit card currently offered is called the Handy Card. This card is only linked to accounts denominated in the local currency, the Vatu and is purely for local ATM use.

Plans are in place to upgrade this to accept EFTPOS and online use, locally as well as internationally.

Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac)

Westpac offers a Visa International Debit card which can be used for ATM withdrawals, EFTPOS and online purchases. The only drawback is that this card can only be linked to a personal account denominated in the local currency, the Vatu.

For International companies wishing to access funds to the company's account denominated in a foreign currency account, the beneficial owner will have to establish a separate account in his personal name. This Debit card will be linked to this personal account.

The company will then transfer funds as and when required to top up the beneficial owner's personal Vatu account where he can then access with his Debit card. The slight drawback here is that you will incur forex cost twice. First, in conversion of funds from the company's foreign currency account to Vatu, to transfer to your personal Vatu account. Second, in conversion when using your card for paying for services outside of Vanuatu to whichever currency in use there.

Having said that, the benefits and convenience of this card outweighs the downside of things.

ANZ Bank (Vanuatu) Limited (ANZ).

ANZ offers Debit card facilities which, apart from the local currency, the Vatu, can be linked to accounts denominated in foreign currencies. Currently this is limited to USD, EUR, AUD and NZD.

This facility however can only be linked to a personal account. For international companies wishing to access funds in a foreign currency account, the beneficial owner will have to establish a separate account in his/her personal name. Then it’s a simple matter of transferring funds from the company’s account to the personal account for use with the Debit card.

BRED (Vanuatu) Limited (BRED).

BRED currently offers an ATM Card which can be linked to a company’s foreign currency account.

However fund withdrawals are limited to local ATMs in Vanuatu for cash in the local currency. This will incur forex cost as well as the normal bank fees.

BRED is currently planning release of a VISA Debit card which can be issued under the same account. This card system is currently in the "TESTING PROCESS".

A fully international Debit card with international access to your foreign currency account is “Coming Soon to an ATM Near You”.