21 Dec 2004

Questions raised in Cook Islands over lack of firewalls in finance portfolio

11:37 am on 21 December 2004

Questions are being raised in the Cook Islands over whether there is too little separation between operations and monitoring in the finance portfolio.

This follows the allocation of finance and economic management, as well as the post of attorney general to the deputy prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry, from the Cook Islands party, or CIP, which is the biggest partner in the coalition government.

The CIP has captured the major portfolios of finance as well as foreign affairs while its minority partner, the Demo Tumu, has health and education.

Our correspondent, Jason Brown, says the CIP is calling the shots because it controls the purse strings.

And, he says there's also concern that the auditing functions and PERCA, the public expenditure review committee, come under finance.

"Ideally, I would have thought that would have been better under another minister, not straight under the finance minister. It seems like there's no firewalls between the operation side of things in finance, and the monitoring and enforcement side, which is audit and the public expenditure review committee. They both share the same minister."