8 Feb 2011

Cook Islands parliamentary spending under scrutiny

2:16 pm on 8 February 2011

Revelations that the Cook Islands parliament has overspent its budget are likely to heighten opposition calls for more scrutiny of its spending.

Prime Minister Henry Puna announced on Friday the blowout's due to a record 180,000 New Zealand dollar payout to the three ministers and eight MPs who lost their seats in the November general elections.

The constitution entitles them to three months salary.

Our correspondent Florence Syme Buchanan says parliament's straitened finances aren't helped by the government's plans to allow other MP expenditure.

"It wishes to reinstate a $5000 clothing allowance for all MPs. This was cut out by the former Finance Minister Wilkie Rasmussen last year. Also they're increasing the travel budget that was also severly trimmed back. What the Prime Minister and Minister for Parliamentary Services has explained is that the clothing allowance is a legal requirement."

Florence Syme Buchanan says Parliamentary Services is one of the priorities for rescue in a supplementary budget to be dealt with urgently when parliament resumes.