11 Mar 2013

Cook Islands outer islands get more power

6:37 am on 11 March 2013

The Cook Islands Parliament has passed recently legislation giving power to outer island councils.

The Island Governance Act 2013, a bill that has been in the pipeline since 1999, aims to help outer island development.

There are 15 major islands spread over 2.2 million kilometres of ocean, divided into two distinct groups: the Southern Cook Islands and the Northern Cook Islands.

The chief of staff for the office of the prime minister says the purpose of the act is to empower the island governments so that they can have a greater role in determining their development priorities.

Elizabeth Wright-Koteka says in the past the councils had no authority or mandate over the budgets of their island.

"This authority was vested to the island secretary who was an employee of the public service commissioner and was not answerable to the council but rather to the public service commissioner in Raratonga. So that caused a lot of confusion on the island."

Elizabeth Wright-Koteka says the island mayors and councillors will be given training on the new legislation.