Who Owns What?

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    The unofficial leader of the unofficial opposition of the Niue Fono Ekepule Mrs O’love Jacobsen has come out firing on what she says is the lack of transparency of the Talagi Administration when it comes to the government’s business operations. This time she is questioning the shareholding of various companies, but not only that, it appears that she has asked the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look at the legality of the shareholding.

    Mrs Jacobsen is reported by RNZ International as saying that she had sought the assistance of the NZ Ministry in order to ascertain if the Premier’s actions are lawful. Mrs Jacobsen had told the broadcaster that Premier Talagi is the single shareholder of one state-owned company and Minister Billy Talagi holds one-third share in another company.

    SOE Govt Controlled Bond Store

    In reply to questions put by Talaniue, Premier Sir Toke said that the shareholding of all SOEs are prescribed for in the legislation that created them. He added that most SOEs has the minister of finance as the shareholder. The reason why Minister Billy Talagi was named a shareholder of Telecom Niue was because he happened to be the acting minister of finance at that time when the company was registered.

    “No one can hold any private shareholding,” the Premier said and added, “the RNZ article is misleading and incorrect. What Veve said is also misleading and incorrect”. The Premier went on to accuse Mrs Jacobsen of misleading the public.

    It is certainly not unusual for a minister of the Crown to be named as a shareholder of a registered government-owned business. But in doing so, it is clearly understood that the shares are held by the shareholding-minister for and on behalf of government and not for their own personal gain. Former premier Young Vivian held shares on behalf of government in the old Matavai Resort Ltd.

    Mrs Jacobsen latest broadside at her former boss is seen by most on the island as a manifestation of the opposition’s frustration in not being able to force the government to provide more details of its various business operations. Earlier this year the Public Accounts Committee of the Niue Assembly were provided an estimate only of the revenue and expenditure of the SOEs for the current financial year. It is this lack of details that caused the resignation from the Committee of long serving politician Terry Coe.

    Meantime, the whole of the Niue Cabinet are absent overseas which leaves only the MAMs – member assisting the minister – to look after the affairs of the country.

    All we need now is for someone to declare war on Nukututaha and our vaka will be up-the-proverbial without proper means of propulsion, let alone a captain in the wheelhouse!

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