Cook Islands Parliament To Resume Sitting Today

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2014-15 budget expected to be tabled on day 2

By Emmanuel Samoglou

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 28, 2014) – Prime Minister Henry Puna will be leading his razor thin Cook Islands Party-led majority Government into Parliament today when the House resumes sitting.

According to a business paper issued by Parliament, Puna and his 12 CIP MP’s will be introducing an Arbitration Amendment Bill to the House.

Those awaiting the introduction of a long-awaited budget bill for the 2014-15 financial year will have to wait to receive full details of the Government’s spending priorities, as Finance Minister Mark Brown indicated last week the Appropriation Bill will be tabled tomorrow.

Recently, the Government has made a number of spending announcements in areas such as health, education, and tourism.

Lawyer Norman George, who is currently appealing the High Court’s decision of his petition in Teenui-Mapumai, has described the Government’s spending plans as a "vote-buying new general election budget".

To pass any legislation, Puna will have to rely on each of his MP’s to vote in favour of the Government. The opposition will be led by Ruaau MP William Heather of the Democratic Party, whose nine MP’s have indicated plans to cooperate with One Cook Islands – consisting of Leader and Aitutaki MP Teina Bishop and Tupapa MP George Maggie.

Despite the Government’s slow march forward, the nation’s political situation remains uncertain and vulnerable to change.

A by-election is scheduled for the island of Mitiaro next month, and the Courts are expected to hear up to five appeals of recent petition decisions.

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