6 Feb 2008

Call for more transparency in planned Cooks ship purchase

2:16 pm on 6 February 2008

The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce has called for more transparency in a government plan to send a team to Norway to buy an interisland cargo ship.

The previous ship servicing the outer islands, owned by Taio Shipping, is stranded and the government proposed to step in and buy a new boat for two million dollars.

It now plans to send a team to Norway to buy a ship and the owner of Taio Shipping will be part of the team.

The chamber's president, Teresa Manaarangi Trott, says that amounts to a conflict of interest.

"That's one of our major concerns, because the people that are going are also going to be the managers of the boat, they are the proponents of that particular boat as well. We're not getting any independent assessment, including a financial viability assessment being undertaken by the ministry of finance."

Teresa Manaarangi Trott says taxpayers will pay for the boat and will later pay for the shipping fares, while Taio shipping will make all the money.