HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 587: 2 November 2011

Towards greater transparency
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) today announced the release of the first quarterly financial report of the Cook Islands government. The report provides a detailed snapshot of the financial position of the government, as at September 2011. The Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Hon. Mark Brown, stated, “Government is keen to promote the greater financial transparency within the Crown. The idea of publishing reports like this [showing] the financial position of the crown accounts is a step towards increasing that transparency.” The quarterly report will also provide cabinet, ministers and heads of ministries with a comprehensive picture of the government’s financial position at a national level. The Minister also expressed that each quarter the ministry would release an update on that position.
The key points of the report show that the net operating balance of the government for the first quarter showed a deficit of just under $750,000. The total revenue for the quarter was just under $27.6 million and total expenditure at around $28.3 million. While the report shows that Crown revenue figures were higher than the budgeted revenues, the Minister said that they were “mindful” and already expected that revenues would be higher for the first half of the financial year since it coincides with the peak tourist season. It is expected that government will have a clearer picture of the state of the country’s financial position once the half-year update is released. “By then we would’ve got a bit more information and we’ll have a much firmer idea of how our cash position will be towards the end of the year.”
The total borrowings for the quarter increased by over $10.3 million and this was mainly related to the Avatiu Port Development. Minister Brown highlighted that government is happy with the country’s current debt position and that he felt government had the scope to take on more debt “quite comfortably”. He stated that it was a possibility that government may take on further debt if deemed necessary, but that borrowing was reserved for key government priorities of infrastructure, water upgrade and renewable energy.
Total cash deposits for the period sat at just under $53 million, however the majority of these funds are committed funds leaving a cash reserve of just under $4 million. True indications of the financial position of government remain to be seen once the next report on the quarter ending December 2011 is released in February 2012. -Ngariki Ngatae

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

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.