6 Oct 2015

Cook Islands government spending defended

3:14 pm on 6 October 2015

The Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown has defended signing off US$1.7 million in public spending without debate in parliament.

The spending was revealed in the government's latest financial report which shows 20 changes to the budget approved by executive order.

Spending included $840,000 on transport for independence day celebrations and $200,000 for MPs pay, housing and travel costs.

The Cook Islands News reports the Executive Council has the power to approve additional expenditure up to $2 million but usually there is parliamentary debate and a vote on the matter.

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Mr Brown says even with the additional spending the government has spent well below budget over the last financial year.

He says the Orders in Executive Council allowed governments to approve financing without having to go through the 'rigmarole' of passing a law for what are essentially 'tiny amounts of money'.

Mr Brown says there was higher than expected revenue from fishing licenses and fines and lower operating expenses due to lower spending by agencies and savings in the underwrite of air services to Rarotonga from Los Angeles and Sydney.

Lower than budgeted capital expenditure and investment by the Cook Islands Government was mainly due to delays in the tendering processes of some larger projects such as Te Mato Vai water infrastructure project.