1 Jul 2004

Cook Islands Government personnel costs soar over Finance Ministry guidelines

3:37 pm on 1 July 2004

The Cook Islands Finance secretary says more transparency is needed for personnel costs in government due to spiralling overspending by officials.

In his pre-election economic and fiscal update statement released yesterday, Kevin Carr warns that the increase in personnel costs in the 2004/05 financial year is a disturbing trend.

Mr Carr has told the Cook Islands News that the personnel cost for the 2004/05 appropriation is 3.5 million US dollars above the recommended guidelines and if present policies continue this is likely to increase further.

He says the increase is of serious concern particularly as there are no effective measures in place to manage the personnel levels in the public sector.

Carr says over the past 12 months there's been an alarming trend of over-expenditure by some ministries, with certain outer islands administrations exhibiting a total disregard for the rules and procedures established.

Carr says more stringent controls, even to the extent of withholding bulk funding, including the payment of workers, will be adopted in the future.

He adds the Public Service Commission should also take the lead in dealing with the problem.