HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 574:27 July 2011

Budget highlights you may find hard to swallow

Women overlooked
Women make up about half the population but nowhere in the Finance Minister’s 11 page speech does the word “Women” appear. The elderly, children, youth, working mothers and sisters are mentioned but not “women.” In fact nowhere in the entire speech is there any reference to strategies specifically aimed at women.
Innovation, smart practices?
These words appear on page one of the Finance Minister’s speech on the Budget.
There appear to be no new revenue streams so government is confined to using existing revenue smarter and trying to increase revenue by being more innovative.
Shifting funds to areas of greater priority is working smarter but it is harder to be innovative when working in a confined space.
Did the banks know?
Reintroducing the 15 per cent withholding tax on bank interest earned will produce another $1 million for government but that is hardly being innovative. Interest on savings accounts is already so low as to be almost microscopic so why impose a tax on it? It seems like a desperate move to balance the budget. It would be smarter to seek some other way to realize $1 million. It would also be a smart move to consult the banks as the Herald understands they were not consulted. Expect the banks to impose a charge for this service.
Skilled, talented staff?
The Finance Minister praises his team on page 10 of his speech. They certainly get an A plus for creative writing. In schedule 8 of the Budget document, page 59 the amounts of various payments on behalf of the Crown (POBOCs) are listed. You will note how the amounts referred to in the speech notes differ from the p59 list and the amounts mentioned on page 12 and 14 of the Budget document also differ.
For example, POBOC List page 59 amount for Te Maeva Nui $850,000. Minister’s speech page 4 amount shown is $800,000. Page 14 of Budget document amount shown is $900,000.
POBOC List shows ADB funding for the vulnerable in society as $560,769. Minister’s speech shows $1 million.
POBOC List shows pharmaceutical allocation as $642,800. Page 39 of the Document shows the figure as $700,000.
There are other examples. It is OK to round off figures but not when the difference between the figure and the round off is significant. The reader should also be informed that a rounded up figure is being used.
Ministerial Support offices allocations
The Finance Minister’s increase is 66.67 per cent more than the previous base figure set by the Demo government. What is the extra $120,797 needed for? The Herald understands the Minister wishes to employ two financial experts at salaries of $60,000 each. This begs the question, what is the purpose of having a Ministry full of experts?
Landing fees wiped
Why have the landing fees for Pacific Blue airline been wiped? Previously Pacific Blue paid $84,350. No one seems to have queried this.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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