The Opposition Party has strongly criticised the appointment of a seventh minister, expected to be former Rakahanga MP Toka Hagai, who is yet to be cleared by police of a treating allegation.
The party maintains its stance that spending well in excess of $300,000 a year on a seventh cabinet minister and a new ministerial support office is a waste of taxpayer money.
Government insists its ministers are burdened with the workload and need someone outside Parliament to share it.
Deputy prime minister Mark Brown earlier said the challenges for Cabinet ministers compared to 20 years ago had increased. The law allowed a seventh minister, who would not have any voting power.
But Titikaveka MP Selina Napa said Henry Puna and Mark Brown carry the bulk of portfolios. “Why not share these with minister Robert Tapaitau and Mac Mokoroa?
“Robert certainly can handle the ministry of Marine Resources – probably better than Toka Hagai.”
Hagai has been earmarked for that portfolio, and is understood to have been allocated a government house and vehicle.
Hagai, who stood for the Cook Islands Party in Rakahanga, was found guilty of electoral treating in the Cook Islands court of appeal late last year following the June general election.
Napa says Cook Islands taxpayers “do not deserve to be saddled with the enormous cost of a seventh Minister Office.”
A sum of $290,000 had been set aside – but the salary and perks of an extra cabinet minister would significantly increase this amount.
“It’s something our people will not be happy about.”
“There is nothing moral about this, the government has put aside money for a person they are wanting to set up in a dream job, that person is under police investigation.”
Napa warns the salary, allowances, house and car will be repeated every year. “It’s a big cost to a small country.”
-Democratic Party Release.