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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 12) – The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce is calling on the government to substantially reduce the number of public servants.

An executive member, Brian Baudinet, says over the last ten years, public service employees have increased from 1,500 to 1,900.

He says there also seems to be too much spending in the outer islands, too little oversight, and too many government employees there.

Mr Baudinet says the chamber has had meetings with government ministers and is hoping their recommendations will be adopted in the budget which is expected to be discussed in parliament this week.

"We feel that the public service is perhaps 300 to 400 people too strong and that government should be taking a very close look at that, and releasing some of those people, by attrition or otherwise, back into the private sector where there is a desperate need for people to complete jobs here."

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