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PM clarifies top taxman’s sabbatical leave

Monday 17 April 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National


PM clarifies top taxman’s sabbatical leave
Prime Minister Mark Brown. Picture: AL WILLIAMS/23031009

Prime Minister Mark Brown told Parliament last week that the sabbatical leave taken by the Revenue Management Division director Xavier Mitchell “is a leave without pay”.

Brown responded to a question raised by the Opposition MP and Cook Islands Unity Party leader Teariki Heather.

Heather asked if the sabbatical leave taken by Mitchell had been resolved and had he taken the six months leave with pay.

PM Brown said the term sabbatical leave “is something new” for the country.

He explained that in New Zealand, in some industries like legal firms, lawyers may take up to six-month leave called sabbatical.

Brown said the more accurate term to use would be a leave of absence.

“However, this is a matter between the head of ministry (MFEM) and his staff … a number of our people who were involved in the Covid years, many of them were overworked and burnt out.”

Revenue Management Division director Xavier Mitchell. MFEM/23011265

The PM said the head of the ministry supported the request from the head of the Cook Islands Tax Department for six months leave of absence.

“I am advised by the head of ministry that this leave of absence is without pay.

“But as we know … that good qualified workers in our country are hard to come by, so if it means we have to be innovative in how we try and retain our staff by providing them things like a leave of absence or sabbatical to recharge their batteries then I think that it is a good idea that we look at that.”