24 Dec 2002

Re-instatements by the Cooks Government condemned by political reform group

4:31 pm on 24 December 2002

Political reform lobbyists in the Cook Islands say they are concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability in the way the Government spends its Ministerial fund.

The Group for Political Change says that the fund will be used to pay hefty consultancy fees to MP, Norman George and a former civil servant, Eddie Drollet.

Its spokesperson, Liz Ponga, says that taxpayers are paying for Prime Minister Dr Robert Woonton's flip flop decision who earlier this year sacked Mr Drollet as his chief of staff, and dumped Mr George from Cabinet.

Liz Ponga says the reinstatement casts doubts on Dr Woonton's ability to govern the country.

She says the Government is ignoring mechanisms put in place to ensure accountability and transparency.

"These people have not been budgetted for I believe and they will then be going into their Ministerial support funds which we have been saying all along is the slush fund of this country...so all I am saying is it has got to be stipulated and across the board for every body and budgetted and audited at the end of the day"

Liz Ponga in Rarotonga

She says it is a sign that Dr Woonton is weak.