4 Apr 2003

Cooks government committee questions use of ministerial support funds

10:19 am on 4 April 2003

The Cook Islands Public Expenditure Review Committee has tabled a report on the use of ministerial officer support funds to pay for the medical referral of an MP and his wife to New Zealand, including a 550-US dollar allowance.

The report also states Aitutaki MP Paora Teiti received the payment as an undersecretary to a minister when he hadn't been properly appointed to the position and it also says that his appointment had been backdated by five months with cabinet approval.

Solicitor-General Janet Maki, has commented in the PERC report that she has concerns regarding the 500-dollar payment to Mr Teiti.

Ms Maki says the appointment backdating could be interpreted as an attempt to legalise payment and such a practice could not be condoned.

Financial Secretary, Kevin Carr, has also expressed concern over the way ministerial support funds have been used.

Mr Carr says that since the introduction of ministerial support, there have been questions about the absence of clear legislative guidelines for appropriation and accountability.