Debate over possible water charges as Cooks poll nears

Cook Islands MP Tama Tuavera with constituents Photo: RNZI/Florence Syme Buchanan

THE Cook Islands government has been accused of inconsistency and of misleading taxpayers about water charges that may be applied to properties which are hooked into the main system.

The opposition Democratic Party has been highly critical of reported comments by Cook Islands Investment Corporation chief executive Petero Okotai that water tariffs will be introduced to cover the cost of water supply and maintenance on Rarotonga.

The infrastructure minister Teariki Heather denied on Radio Cook Islands that the government would introduce water charges a day after the Investment Corporation announcement went public.

Opposition MP Tama Tuavera says repeated reassurances by government ministers that water would continue to be free can’t be trusted when the agency responsible is clearly saying otherwise.

Mr Tuavera says Mr Heather and finance minister, Mark Brown, “must come clean” and tell the public the truth.