HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 583: 28 September 2011

We want your input
By Prime Minister Henry Puna

Kia Orana
The annual budget of any Government demonstrates how it will translate its policy goals into action. A final budget is the result of contributions made by many people and organisations with the ultimate aim of maximising what can be achieved from a finite pool of resources.
Formulating a budget is not an easy business. It requires a fine balance of prioritising what needs to be done, amongst an assortment of good ideas.
The Government is fully aware it will be in the unenviable position of wanting to do a number of good things, but will be limited by the resources at it’s disposable.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that the Government will always be fiscally prudent. We have seen in the recent past how the poor state of public finances can quickly get out of control and cripple a country - we are seeing this playing out in Europe right now.
In formulating the budget, it is the desire of my Government to get more community input into the budget process. I have myself been privy to many good ideas from our people, and I believe greater community discussion would allow the Government to get a good understanding of which ideas have robust community support.
With that in mind I am pleased that Cabinet has endorsed a new process, which whilst similar to previous processes has some differences.
We will start earlier. Getting our bureaucracy to begin the process earlier will mean better and more comprehensive business plans and clearly identified objectives.
Budget Consultation Paper
The process will start on 12 October 2011, when the Minister of Finance will issue a Budget Consultation Paper. This paper will invite submissions from the community, and will also provide further details from the Economic Taskforce, and the guiding principles from the functional review we are undertaking of the public service. These will be the two underpinning pieces of work that will frame the Budget for 2012-13.
Submissions will be public and available on the MFEM website for all to see. I hope we see some vigorous debate in our media on some of the issues that surface in the submissions, and I encourage everyone to have their say.
National Development Strategy Paper
In November, my office will release our National Development Strategy Paper (NSDP). The paper will be a key policy document that outlines our aspirations regarding where we want the Cook Islands to be in 2015. The NSDP will outline our key policy directions, and how we will measure our progress towards the achievement of our objectives.
Investment in our infrastructure is also critical to our continued national prosperity. The Government will be publishing its master infrastructure list. This list will outline the major works we would like to undertake and estimated costs for these works.
The Budget Policy Statement
This will be published on 1 December along with an update on the Government’s financial and economic projections. This document will take account of feedback we received from the community in the preceding weeks.
Development Partners Meeting
Furthermore we will also be asking our development partners to meet with us in late January 2012 to look at coordinating their investments into the development of the Cook Islands. I would like to see the Government and our development partners working cohesively to ensure that we get the best return from our investments.
We will be aiming to get the budget to Parliament in early June, well in time for it to be passed before 1 July 2012.
Review of Finance and Economic Committee
As part of our reforms we look to reinvigorate the Finance and Economic Committee of Parliament to ensure the legislature is able to scrutinise our budget and finances.
Such committees are extremely valuable in a democracy as it allows closer inspection of Government and it’s finances, something which I am very enthusiastic about.
Finally, I encourage you all to contribute and participate in the public consultation outlined above as it is in this manner and spirit that our national development will continue to advance and prosper.

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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