Cook Islands Investment Corp Chair Disputes Report About Aitutaki Power Funds

Henry says Cook Islands News article inaccurate; CIIC never tried to access APS funds

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 5, 2017) – The chairman of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation board Michael Henry has rejected the accuracy of an article that stated his organisation was involved in Aitutaki Power Station Authority (APS) activities.

In a response to the CI News, Henry says it was “disappointing” that statements made by the former APS authority chairman have been reported as fact.

In the article Allen Mills, who was recently fired by CIIC, is reported as saying the authority’s funds were from the people of Aitutaki and should be used for their benefit.CIIC has been accused of attempting to access funds accumulated by the APS.

In a statement Henry said: “As already stated by Tamarii Tutangata, CIIC’s CEO last week, while responding to questions of a similar nature from Florence Syme-Buchanan published in the CI News, the following are the facts.

“CIIC has never attempted to access APS funds and the tender process for the APS tank farm was not managed by CIIC, nor was CIIC involved in that process.  “The Tender Committee members are the Financial Secretary and the Solicitor-General with the secretariat provided by Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.

“CIIC has never had any involvement with the Tender Committee except to the extent that CIIC’s projects are also subjected to the Tender Committee process.

“CIIC is not aware of any plan to centralise fuel purchases and understands that a condition of an international shipping licence is that ships call at Aitutaki.

“We have not been involved in any discussion on the subject of the APS fuel supply. 

“CIIC considers the maintenance of the generators as a critical item and steps are being taken to place an order with the Cummins Pacific supplier of these generators for a replacement.”

In addition, says Henry:  “CIIC has taken steps in the past two weeks to begin to address the many issues around APS and its operations.

“CIIC has now received full reports from the APS manager Long Tuiravakai and accountant Teina Frank and endorsed the APS manager’s purchasing requests and is providing support to make these possible through CIIC staff.

“Frank’s request to replace the outdated accounts software with current software compatible with the rest of government has also been approved.

 “Further, CIIC has approved the manager’s request to install staff toilets and safety showers at APS for which funds have not been made available for many years.

“We have also agreed that CIIC’s properties manager will travel to Aitutaki to assist APS management with the preparation of tender documents required to get the various large value items the APS urgently need.

“Moreover, together with the Renewable Energy Development Division in the Office of the Prime Minister, CIIC is promoting the inclusion of a Budget request on behalf of APS for the appropriation in the 2017/18 financial year of $3.89 million for the supply and installation of a 1MW solar plant including battery storage and a 240kw generator.

“We have also put in place plans to include future APS board members in the same governance training as the Rarotonga SOE Boards have begun to undertake, bringing the level of capacity to the same across islands.”

As an Aitutakian, and choosing to live there for most of his adult life, and having invested heavily in businesses in Aitutaki, Henry is pleased that at least he and Mills share the same belief that APS revenue must be used on APS activities.

“However,” Henry says, “it must also be borne in mind that the funds required for the establishment of the power station with its state of the art generators at the time, as well as the installation of the power distribution network came from the national budget and the NZ government.

“Costs for the APS operations, servicing of the equipment and upgrading of the network have also been borne by the national budget.

“It is only in the past two to three years that APS revenue has been allowed by government to be built up to its current level.

“We welcome questions directed to the corporation if people have queries but find it extremely unhelpful when statements lacking fact are put into the public forum for print.”

Cook Islands News
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