22 May 2014

Cook Islands official says no conflict of interest for PM

2:11 pm on 22 May 2014

The Financial Secretary for the Cook Islands Government says there are no conflicts of interest that need to be declared by the Prime Minister over pearl farming grants.

Richard Neves says Henry Puna had previously removed himself from the immediate process of negotiating details for the Grant Funding Agreement and the overall processes for purchasing and allocating equipment.

Mr Neves says this agreement between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is in essence where conflicts of interest needed to be declared and there were none that required to be declared.

He says the Prime Minister is a pearl farmer and will receive equipment just as the other 22 eligible farmers will with details of funding allocation due to be published later this year.

He says the process is transparent and purchase of the equipment has been conducted through a series of public tenders run through the Ministry of Finance and all except for two have now been finalised.

Richard Neves says claims of conflict of interest have been engineered to get a reaction during an election.