29 Jan 2004

Cook Islands opposition leader refuses to answer accusations of deliberate overspending

4:48 pm on 29 January 2004

The leader of the Cook Islands opposition, Sir Geoffrey Henry, has so far refused to comment on newspaper reports that he has spent his annual office budget of 81-thousand US dollars in just seven months.

The Cook Islands News reports Cabinet has refused Sir Geoffrey's request for an extra 47-thousand US dollars, but has given him 20-thousand US dollars to tide him over.

The newspaper quotes the prime minister's advisor, Norman George, saying Sir Geoffrey's office is overstaffed and the former minister of finance cannot manage his own budget.

Mr George is reported saying the budget blow-out is "irresponsibility at its worst" and Sir Geoffrey, in his opinion, did it deliberately.

Sir Geoffrey refused to respond to the criticism when contacted by Radio New Zealand International.