“The public no longer accepts the excuses that are being given by the government, and taxpayers deserve to know what happened and what they are paying for.”
He says an independent commission of inquiry also has to clarify what happened during negotiations between Chinese officials and those representing the government, and supposedly the interests of the Cook Islands people.
“Our people are entitled to know what agreements were made and signed between which entities, and why taxpayers are now being burdened with a $90 million debt. People just don’t accept the excuses that have been made that a budget blowout of this size was expected. Not only does it not make sense, it shows extremely bad planning and Cook Islanders deserve to know why.”
Maoate says when it was widely known that Stage One of the project was fraught with problems, government ministers were still in denial and claiming everything was okay. “Meanwhile pipes were leaking, joints were blowing and the whole project just a mess.
“What we know now from experts is that a critical mistake made with the project was that the water intakes, as the water source for Rarotonga, should have been the first focus of work. Instead it was done back to front. Government said ring main water pipes were leaking and needed to be replaced, so they replaced them with pipes that are leaking and blowing. Even when Te Mato Vai Stage One was halfway, landowners still hadn’t been consulted with. This should have happened at the very outset, before any work started.”
Maoate believes the failure to consult with the landowners first, shows “incredible arrogance” on the part of the Puna led government.
“They obviously didn’t think the landowners were important enough, until some became upset over their land being used without permission and the lack of being referred to.
“As Opposition leader, I am making a call on government to do the right thing and initiate an independent commission of inquiry because this is just too important to ignore.
This is a financial burden being put on our future generations.”
- Release/Democratic Party