20 Aug 2015

Cooks opposition claims foul play over boat deal

6:10 pm on 20 August 2015

A Cook Islands opposition party is calling for transparency after a government deal over a boat went wrong.

The company, Pacific Schooners Ltd. was contracted to provide the vessel, Tiare Taporo, for Pa Enua teams to return to their islands after celebrations for the country's 50th anniversary of self governance earlier this month.

But the ship was delayed and alternative transport had to be arranged.

The MP for Murienua and Democratic Party member, James Beer, says the total transport costs were about $US850,000 ($NZD1.3m) and an estimated $US130,000 ($NZD200,000) was supposedly paid as a deposit to Pacific Schooners.

He says details on the deal are scarce and the government initially denied any advanced payment was made.

"There was a denial by one of the signatories on that contract, the financial secretary. As the weeks went on he eventually advised that in fact an advance payment had been made. The mere fact that he was reluctant to disclose that information from the outset raises the possibility that something here was not right."

James Beer says the Democratic Party will file for a judicial inquiry into the contract.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer. Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

The charter agreement can be viewed online but details of the total cost of the deal are blanked out.

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