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MPs get extra 180k for travel

Tuesday April 23, 2019 Written by Published in Politics
Opposition leader Tina Browne. 19022517 Opposition leader Tina Browne. 19022517

Government’s allocation of $180,000 for Members of Parliament (MPs) travel in the Appropriation Amendment Bill copped criticism in Parliament recently.

 

The Opposition Democratic Party members were not pleased with the appropriation to cater for MPs travel in the remainder of the 2018/19 financial year.

Opposition leader Tina Browne said government should instead prioritise funding in other important areas which need immediate attention.

Browne pointed out health on the outer islands, especially the northern group, as one of the priority areas.

While she agreed there were some benefits from some parliamentary travel, she added there was travel that they do not get any benefit from.

“For me it is a question of priorities and we have been complaining about having no doctors in the northern group for I do not know for how long,” Browne said.

“If you pay a doctor for each of the islands, one for Penrhyn island, one for Pukapuka and one for Manihiki, Rakahanga at $60,000 a year, that is your $180,000.

“I realise that government will need to improve the accommodations of these doctors in the outer islands because part of the reason why good doctors do not go up north is because the accommodation is not flash.”

Finance minister Mark Brown said the $180,000 was for the MPs invited by honorary partners to attend and represent the country at international conventions.

“This government has supported the increase of $180,000 to allow all member of parliaments to meet travel responsibilities for the benefit of our country,” Brown said.

“One major success that resulted from the support of this funding was the GCF (Green Climate Find) accreditation for the Cook Islands. This will be beneficial for our country as we can directly apply for funding to assist our country with climate resilience projects for Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.”

In supporting the allocation, Internal Affairs minister Vaine “Mac” Mokoroa said Cook Islands’ engagement with the world would enable the country to step up at the global stage and tap into opportunities to progress the development.

“Last month a Green Climate Fund team held a conference at the National Auditorium on March 14 and 15. The team visited the prime minister and the deputy prime minister, the honourable Mark Brown who expressed interest on private sector engagement and infrastructure resilience,” Mokoroa said.

“This Green Climate Fund has also forced us to establish and develop a Cook Islands Country Programme which was adopted in Cabinet on March 6.

“This fund has resulted through the meetings, conference and forums that many of our Members of Parliament, ministers and leaders have attended or will be attending who will get more information. Hence the request for this extra funding.”