It was fascinating listening to finance minister Mark Brown on CITV News on Tuesday evening where he revealed his sudden discovery of the financial provisions of the Constitution.
Not one to lose an opportunity to seize every moment, he repeated in Wednesday’s CINews and on Matariki FM that same morning.
Full marks though there, for timing and coordination. If you want to promote a delusional picture, grab every chance available.
Brown has been in the position as minister of finance for eight years and only now has he acknowledged that all the urgency and deadline of introducing and passing a budget before the end of the financial year is, and has always been, so much hogwash. No reira paa aia i oronga teia karere TV nona i roto i te reo maori ua.
Because, there are others out there who have long known and argued what the Demo spokesperson for finance, James Beer again recently re-stated, namely that what the minister was so pompously sharing with TV viewers as if he knew it all the time, had actually been in the Constitution in different forms since1965.
The Constitution provides all the spending authority necessary to keep the ship of State functioning for at least the first three months into a new financial year.
I say “at least” because it depends upon the unexpended balances from the previous year. It could therefore be longer.
You might well therefore be asking why the minister (until his Tuesday epiphany) has hitherto always subscribed to the nonsensical belief that everything has to be done and dusted before June 30, which of course, with the way it has been interpreted, and manipulated, has allowed government to rush a budget through the House, deny proper scrutiny, guillotining debate, providing no actuals or other constitutionally required reports.
Has the minister ever, ever previously acknowledged that the appropriation process permits what he is now admitting? Not in my memory.
The minister then bragged how the Cook Islands' economy leads the region.
Significantly missing from the ADB report summary in CI News which the minister depended upon was the per capita figure which normally appears in these reports. It’s probably in the report proper and if it is, it would be equally glowing I have no doubt and further fuel to be trotted out of evidence of our economic supremacy.
I have written before that such figures are totally misleading because as our population continues to decline, so the ratios improve.
I commented facetiously once that as the population dwindles it will not be long before we are statistically performing better than the United States so watch out Trump!
Just one troubling observation though from all this.
If we are doing so well why are people giving up on the Cook Islands and leaving?
John M Scott