12 Jul 2010

Cook Islands Parliament urged to launch a commission of inquiry over national fuel strategy

11:55 am on 12 July 2010

The Cook Islands Minister of Finance, Wilkie Rasmussen, has released the Audit Office's report into the government's controversial strategy to nationalise fuel supply.

The report makes 13 major recommendations.

The most important is the recommendation that Parliament initiate a formal Commission of Inquiry to take evidence under oath and be open to the public.

Our correspondent in the Cook Islands, Flo Syme-Buchanan reports.

"The audit report states that given the significant expenditure proposed by the Cook Islands government to achieve nationalisation of fuel supply, there was questionable decision making by Cabinet and senior officials. Only Finance Minister, Wilkie Rasmussen is cleared in the report. It goes further to say there were major systemic failures, especially the lack of robust checks and balances within all management systems and there was inadequate identification and determination of management and accountability responsibility. It said failure was due to a lack of detail and reasoned analysis that should've accompanied the government's plan to make a multi-million dollar investment. The report also states that basic principles of good governance were not adhered to and in most cases bordered on negligence of duty, reckless and irresponsible fiscal management."

A former deputy prime minister, Sir Terepai Maoate, was sacked by the prime minister over the issue.