Suspension of Cooks top official sparks restructure call

The suspension of the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources head Ben Ponia has sparked a call from the opposition for the ministry to be restructured.

Cook Islands, Ben Ponia Photo: Supplied

The deputy opposition leader Tama Tuavera said the ministry had developed into a significant revenue generator for the country and needs to undergo major changes to ensure it complies with Cook Islands laws and international standards.

No reason had been given by the Public Service Commission for Mr Ponia‘s suspension on full pay, other than an investigation will be conducted by Public Service Commissioner Russell Thomas.

In 2015 an incident involving Mr Ponia occurred at Auckland‘s Stamford Plaza during an international conference which resulted in a police callout and then New Zealand Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully being briefed about it.