Richard Neves has been reappointed to the position until December in a move endorsed by Cabinet. He will then be replaced by Cook Islander, Garth Henderson on a three year term.
Public Service Commissioner, Mr Russell Thomas said Neves would be expected to transfer knowledge and work programmes led by the Ministry of Finance to Henderson, allowing a smooth transition from his current position with the Te Mato Vai project to the Financial Secretary role with minimal disruption to both the project and MFEM.
During his term Neves has led the inclusion of the departure tax into airline tickets, implementation of government tax reforms reducing PAYE and increasing VAT rates. He has also improved the transparency of budget documentation and reporting on government finances and introduced a more efficient centralised payroll system and centralised government information technology network. These changes have resulted in favourable external reviews of the country’s public financial management systems and Neves is leading work now underway to enable online or web lodgment of tax returns.
Neves said he was very happy with the arrangement, which allowed a solid transition period between himself and
“MFEM is in the midst of a number of key important initiatives during 2015. The success and timeliness of these will be improved with a smooth and reasonable transition, it will minimise disruption and allow Henderson to have a strong background in the myriad of issues that MFEM deals with.”
Currently Henderson is working as a ‘client side representative’ for Te Mato Vai project and will continue to hold this post while assuming extra responsibilities from MFEM, including involvement with staff recruitment, the Budget 2015/16 and other critical functions.
He said he appreciated the time he had been given for the transition into his new role.
“I recognise the good work that has been done before my tenure and look forward to working with the many stakeholder groups across our community to address the many development challenges we face as a nation.”
Henderson was a former manager within MFEM overseeing the Development Co-ordination Division, formerly known as the Aid Management Division, for almost six years before being appointed acting Financial Secretary in October 2010. He was acting Financial Secretary for six months before taking up an advisory post with the Asian Development Bank in March 2011.
As manager of Aid Management, Henderson had extensive engagement with Ministers and Cabinet which provided him an appreciation of the ‘whole of government’ approach and necessity for improved cooperation across the public sector.
During Henderson’s time with ADB he reviewed development loans and grant projects worth over US$30 billion, predominantly for infrastructure projects, capacity building programmes and technical
Henderson returned to work in the Cook Islands last year and brings a sustainable social and economic development focus, including strong leadership and discipline from his former experience working for the Cook Islands Police.
He has a background in Management and Marine Affairs and was an exemplary MBA student with the University of the South Pacific. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in International Affairs.