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ADB recommended outer islands administration fall under PM

By Eric Parnis

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 17, 2012) – A mini shuffle of cabinet portfolios that will see Prime Minister Henry Puna take over responsibilities of outer islands governance and give up the police portfolio is being attributed to recommendations from the Public Sector Functional Review.

Puna yesterday confirmed a report from Saturday’s Cook Islands News that announced that Minister Teariki Heather would take over the police portfolio at a ceremony today while Puna takes over outer islands governance.

The changes are in line with recommendations in the Public Sector Functional Review report prepared last year by Asian Development Bank (ADB) consultants.

The report suggested that outer islands governance fall under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister.

In a news release given to CINews yesterday, Puna said he was keen to see the change occur before the next budget round so that work on determining the details of outer islands governance can start and that further implementation can be incorporated into the 2012-13 budget.

Puna said the changes would be effective immediately, although the exact details of the change are not yet confirmed.

"Whilst the details of pa enua governance are not yet determined and finalized, governance will definitely be based on the principle of empowering the island councils as elected representatives of their communities to take a leading role in decision making and progressing development on the islands," he said.

The prime minister added that he was certain Minister Heather will do a great job as the Minister of Police with his usual proactive approach to achieving targets.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning (MOIP) has taken control of outer islands governance since it was formed late in 2008 after the amalgamation of the Office of the Minister of Island Administrations and the Ministry of Works.

In the years before the merger, the Office of the Minister of Island Administrations received anywhere from NZ$750,000 to NZ$1.1 million [US$614,363 to US$901,065] in annual appropriations.

MOIP was this year allocated NZ$4.1 million [US$3.4 million] in the government’s budget. Whether it will benefit from the same budget allocation remains unknown.

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