7 Mar 2011

Cook Islands Prime Minister to clamp down on government overseas travel

5:44 am on 7 March 2011

The Cook Islands prime minister wants to put a stop to what has been called extensive abuse of government travel by some heads of ministries.

Cabinet has approved a directive submitted by Henry Puna, who is also the minister responsible for the pubic service commission.

The new guidelines says that the heads of ministries will now need to get approval from the public service commissioner before travelling on government business.

Henry Puna described the practice by some ministry heads as unscrupulous, adding that some were making it almost a tradition to travel at any available opportunity, even if the overseas meeting wasn't relevant.

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

"Mr Puna has indicated he's not impressed with the travel scams because the Cook Islands Party has promised accountability with public funds. In addition, the prime minister has said the performance of some ministry heads isn't meeting the requirements of their contracts. Mr Puna said he would be calling for a comprehensive review of the performance of all ministry heads which would help weed out those who aren't meeting their contractual obligations."