Funds access at centre of APS row

Friday March 31, 2017 Written by Published in Local

The Cook Islands Investment Corporation is taking over the responsibilities of the Aitutaki Power Station Authority board, saying it needs to do this so that the outer islands entity can access funds it has accumulated and placed in investment.

 

The move, which sees CIIC assume the day-to-day responsibilities of running the power station after 12 years of it being managed by a board has been widely unpopular with many people including the island council, says mayor Teupo’o Bishop.

The CIIC takeover began with board chairman Allen Mills and directors Mii Makimare and Paul Henry being sacked.

CI News aked CIIC boss Tamarii Tutangata why CIIC was now revoking a decision made in 2005 to have the power station run by a board. 

He replied that given the situation APS had found itself in, where it had the funds in reserve for major planned activities but could not access them, the CIIC takeover was considered the most effective way forward.

CI News has been told APS funds are accessed through a resolution by the board and sign-off by the Financial Secretary. But government sources say the APS board has refused to endorse any money being transferred to central government.

Another question directed to Tutangata was: “In 2014 the government was in favour of introducing an Act that would make the APS a stand-alone state-owned enterprise (SOE). Is that still going to happen? If yes, when, and if not, could you please state why?

However, Tutangata said he was not aware of any decision by government in 2014 to introduce an Act to turn APS into an SOE.

“Had I been aware of such a decision I would have urged the CIIC board of directors to support it. I am reasonably confident that the CIIC board would have been in full support as well. I understand that the intention in 2005 was to establish an SOE but it did not eventuate, possibly because there may not have been any consensus at the political level on the way forward.

“Once our board and the APS management have ensured the more urgent tasks in their business plans are well underway, options on the way forward for APS will be discussed with stakeholders so that a more permanent institutional arrangement can be put in place.”

Tutangata said if government wished to pursue the SOE option within, say a few months, the three most recent board directors of APS would be among those considered for appointment to any new board.

CI News also asked Tutangata to explain why there were said to be plans to centralise the purchase and distribution of fuel for the power station to Rarotonga, when APS had previously successfully handled its own fuel tenders, contracts and direct shipping to Aitutaki.

He replied that he had not seen or been involved in discussing any such plans, and neither had APS manager Long Tuiravakai, or the CIIC board.

“What I do remember is that we worked together with the APS in putting together the current fuel supply arrangement.”

Tutangata also denied CIIC was involved in the muddled three-round tendering process transferring responsibility for the project, including tender process and implementation on to Infrastructure Cook Islands.

ICI secretary Ngametua Pokino said he had heard “something” about the ministry being involved in an APS tender, but said he couldn’t confirm this as it had been before his time. Pokino was to have provided CINews with confirmation on the APS tender, but the information did not arrive before the newspaper went to print.

Leave a comment