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Letter: SBMA responds to ‘misinformed criticism’

Monday 27 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letter: SBMA responds to  ‘misinformed criticism’

I write in response to the anonymous letter published on May 25 regarding the Police Service, and incorrectly criticising the Seabed Minerals Authority (SBMA) for having major government infrastructure investments and high staff salaries.

We all recognise the vital role of the Police Service to our society and for maintaining law and social order. As a former Crown lawyer, I have worked with many police officers, and I salute them for their service to our communities and country.

Given this, I do not consider that misinformed swipes at other sectors or agencies takes us forward on this issue.

For the record, SBMA’s latest budget represents 1 per cent of the total gross appropriation to the 26 ministries, Crown, and statutory agencies. SBMA’s personnel budget is also 1 per cent of total personnel appropriated to the 26 agencies, and our staff salary rates are within the Government pay structure.

To date, Government has not made any infrastructure investment in SBMA.

We are acutely aware of our country’s fiscal situation especially post Covid. As such, SBMA has actively sought external project funding and technical support from partners, such as New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

SBMA has a passionate team who give our best towards advancing our country’s interests, and regularly work beyond the standard 40-hour week like many other public servants.

We have pioneered many “firsts” for the Cook Islands: first comprehensive SBM legal regime, first Cook Islands-led SBM research expedition, first geomorphological seabed map (which also won an international award), to name a few.

While the SBM sector is currently in the exploratory phase, the knowledge it is generating for the Cook Islands is invaluable, and we are publicly releasing all environmental data collected. While possible future minerals harvesting offers much greater return and economic diversification, we are treading carefully regarding any move to minerals harvesting, as the projects concerned must first satisfy the Cook Islands that they are environmentally and commercially feasible.

I welcome the anonymous writer to contact SBMA on 29193 if he or she wishes to find out more about our work. Alternatively, please visit our website: sbma.gov.ck.

Meitaki and God Bless.

Alex Herman

SBM Commissioner