8 Oct 2013

Cook Islands MP warns minister over China trip

2:49 pm on 8 October 2013

A Cook Islands opposition MP William Heather has criticised a government minister for accepting a trip to China, warning such trips can be seen as bribes.

Officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning are travelling to China to discuss a project to upgrade Rarotonga's water supply.

Mr Heather says the airfares are paid for by the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, which is bidding for the job.

Mr Heather compared the case to that of Teina Bishop who recently resigned as Minister of Marine Resources while a police investigation examined his transactions with a foreign fishing company.

The Te Mato Vai project is a venture between the Cook Islands, China and New Zealand and has been described as a world first for involving China in co-operating with another regional development partner.

Mr Heather says there are grounds for the opposition to file a complaint with the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit.