15 Aug 2002

Cook Islands outer islands mayor upset at government-funded jobs

10:37 am on 15 August 2002

The mayor of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands says the coalition government is vote buying with its scheme to fund an extra 109 public service jobs.

Tai Herman says although the funding is directed to the outer islands, it's a backward step.

Mr Herman says that the government should look at contracting out services and building up the private sector which can then employ people.

"It's all about buying votes and there is no two ways about it. They say there is a need to employ people in the outer islands to stop them from migrating overseas or from going to Australia or New Zealand."

Fine people have to be employed but should they be employed in the public sector or the private sector, and the simple answer is the private sector

There are currently 1500 public servants in the Cook Islands, down from a high of 3,500 in 1996.

Concern is being expressed that the government may be funding over-employment in the sector.