11 May 2005

Cook Islands auditor-general says audit underway of Manihiki projects

1:22 pm on 11 May 2005

The Cook Islands auditor-general, Paul Allsworth, says an audit is underway of all capital projects on Manihiki amid claims they've been left unfinished for more than a year.

Manihiki's mayor, Kora Kora, says construction of the hospital, the airport terminal, and a harbour is at a standstill, and the office of the minster for outer islands administration, or OMIA, which is responsible for the projects, is doing nothing about it.

Mr Kora says there was money for the construction but everything came to a halt mid last year and they still don't know why.

Mr Allsworth says they're aware of the problems on Manihiki and they're taking action.

"I can confirm that the audit office is reviewing NZ AID projects in Manihiki. We have been doing that for the last three to four weeks. We're also looking at the airport project, it's locally funded, and also the Tauhunu hospital which is also locally funded."

Mr Allsworth says the audit follows their report last year of OMIA on Rarotonga which uncovered serious problems including overstaffing, excessive salaries, abuse of travel expenses, the wasting of public funds and the mismanagement of crown assets.

He says the report was tabled in parliament but little has been done since then to overhaul the office.