A statement issued yesterday by OPM chief of staff Bredina Drollet, said the discussions had been held last week. Topics included the expenditure authority for continued government spending from July 1, including necessary new spending initiatives that would take effect next month.
Other subjects included the appointment process for new Heads of Ministries, with nine employment contracts ending on June 30.
“In the absence of parliamentary approval, the day-to-day expenses of government from July 1 will be authorised under Article 70(3)(a) of the Cook Islands Constitution, which allows expenditure of up to three-twelfths of the 2017-18 appropriation, together with unexpended balances from the 2017-18 appropriation,” the statement said.
“Initiatives that will be funded under these provisions, above base Government operations, include preparations and transportation of pa enua participants to this year’s Te Maeva Nui celebration, a legislative increase in the minimum wage from July 1, and government hosting costs of the Forum Fisheries Ministerial Meeting which will be held in July.”
The Democratic Party had also been advised that advertising for Heads of Ministry positions would begin this week before a government was formed, the statement added.
However, as these are significant appointments, the selection panel and appointments
will be delayed until after a government is formed. In the interim, current Heads of Ministries are expected to continue until permanent recruitment and selection is completed.
“The Democratic Party has provided broad support to the government’s planning for continued expenditure from July 1, prior to the formation of a government, but expressed concern with the costs of the Te Maeva Nui celebration, believing the event could have been delivered at a significantly lower cost than the planned $3 million.
“This concern was noted, but the government’s plans will continue due to advanced stages of negotiations making it difficult to change at this stage of the preparations.”
During the “caretaker” period the government generally avoided making major policy decisions that were likely to commit an incoming government, the statement added.
It also avoided making significant appointments or entering into major contracts or undertakings.
“In cases where decisions or action are necessary but contrary to the caretaker convention, the government is expected to consult the government Opposition and provide explanations of why the proposed action is considered necessary during the caretaker period.”