29 Dec 2009

Cook Islands opposition accuses govt of mismanagement

9:39 pm on 29 December 2009

The opposition party in the Cook Islands is accusing the government of financial mismanagement.

In the run up to Christmas, the leader of the majority Democratic Party, Sir Terepai Maoate, was sacked as both deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

The move came after the failed buy-out of the Toa fuel tank farm, a scheme Prime Minister Jim Marurai said was mismanaged and which led to a settlement of $US1.2 million.

But three other Democratic Party cabinet ministers resigned their positions in support of Sir Terepai, saying the Prime Minister should shoulder some of the blame.

The general secretary of the Cook Island Party, Temu Okotai, says the country is in financial difficulty.

"Toagate, as the fuel thing is now called, the Toagate, is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the economic difficulties the country is in.

"The government has spent all the reserves and the people don't know how that was done. Now there are other expenditures they are calling for and we don't know where the money is."

Mr Okotai says the Cook Islands Party wants an early election as the people have no confidence in the split ruling Democratic Party.