Thursday, June 03, 2010

This smells bad

Normally when the government wants to contract out services, then it holds an open and transparent bidding process. This is vital both to ensure that the government gets the best deal, and to ensure that there is no suggestion of corruption or the government of the day funding its mates.

But in Parliament today, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina te Heuheu admitted this had not been done when she gave out $4.8 million to the Pacific Economic Development Agency (a private company, despite its name) to boost enterprise in Auckland's Pacific community. Instead, the money had been specifically appropriated for them in the Budget, with no contestability and no consideration of who else might be able to do the work. Worse, there is as yet no purchase agreement on what services are to be provided in exchange for this money.

So who are PEDA? The Minister pretended memory loss in the House today, but its CEO Anthony Pereira is a strong National supporter and a close friend of National MP Sam Lotu Iiga. In other words, it looks like the government has just handed out millions of dollars of taxpayer's money to one of its mates. The onus is now on them to come clean and prove that they did not.