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Policies target corruption issues

Wednesday May 30, 2018 Written by Published in Politics

In the lead-up to the June 14 election, CINews is asking the main political parties to comment on issues of interest to the public. Today’s question: Allegations of corruption, and particularly conflicts of interest among Cabinet Ministers and MPs are regular sources of complaints to CINews from members of the public. What is your party’s policy on both of these issues?

 

Cook Islands Party

Good governance, vigilant public resource oversight and responsible management of development initiatives aligned with the relevant legislation and policies of the country, refute corruption. Our party was key in introducing this principle throughout our public service, and over the years there have been gradual upgrades to the code of conduct, the fiscal responsibility processes of Heads of Ministries and oversight of the Public Expenditure and Revenue Committee. These improvements have been evident in ministry and State-owned enterprise performance.  The MFEM procedures for procurement of goods and services are tailored on international standards and guidelines and provide robust checks and balances for possible conflicts of interest.

Democratic Party

Corruption, conflicts of interest affecting Ministers and senior public servants, bribery and failure to prosecute these crimes have plagued our country for 8 years. The Democratic Party is developing a Code of Ethics to be followed by all politicians and public servants and non-compliance will result in the strongest prosecution and censure.  We will also form an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), as the watchdog on all activities to stop corrupt activities and guarantee the integrity of public administration in all areas of government.  ICAC’s mission will be to combat corruption and protect our people, the community and public sector. It will be charged with education, investigation and prosecution to ensure that corruption is a thing of the past in our country and give us confidence that everyone’s interests are being protected.

One Cook Islands

In 2014, OCI reminded the governing party that we intend to maintain a “watchdog role” to ensure compliance towards governance, accountability and transparency principles. This involves not only Ministers of the Crown but extends also to MPs, chief executives and all public servants who work for government.

Corruption and conflicts of interest are not new, nor are (politicians) above the law. Sections 113 to 115 of the Crimes Act are in place to deal with these matters and so are the Standing Orders of Parliament. What is more important is that there are clearly defined policies, procedures and legislation in place to minimise political interference with the agencies of government that deal with these laws.

OCI continues to advocate changes for improvements at both the parliamentary and public sector levels and to put in place adequate monitoring and review mechanisms that will deal with such behaviour by those in public office. These mechanisms will be totally independent and will stand aside from any governing arm of the Crown to ensure that independence and that any judicial reviews undertaken are done so with integrity and of the highest standard of trust.

Where there are current practices and procedures in place, these will be reviewed and strengthened to ensure compliance and complicity in the public interest. OCI will also ensure that where the law has been broken, those responsible will be dealt with accordingly.