9 May 2002

Cooks opposition concerned about possible slush fund

2:35 pm on 9 May 2002

The Cook Islands opposition leader, Dr Terepai Maoate, says he is concerned about the government increasing the ministerial support fund, and labels it an unnecessary slush fund.

The increased support fund was one of the features of the government's new budget, with ministers allocated an extra 675,000 US dollars for their offices and operations.

Dr Maoate says the raise means MPs now enjoy a salary of more than 90,000 US dollars which he says is a considerable amount in the Cooks Islands.

He says it has always been his intention to reduce the ministerial fund and warns of the dangers in giving MPs more money.

"that is a budget I've always felt uncomfortable with, even when we were in government, because each minister will be tempted to abuse that for buying votes that sort of thing and giving the budget to an uncontrollable situation."

Dr Terepai Maoate.