HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 587: 10 November 2011

Economy not moving, locals look to government intervention
Everyone has a view on the economy and how it’s performing.
Government’s quarterly financial report for the quarter ending September 2011 which was released last week by the Minister for Finance Hon Mark Brown may be a snapshot of government performance but it does not accurately reflect how society itself is coping in the current economy.
Talk to any ordinary Cook Islander in the street about how they are faring and you will begin to get another picture of the economy.
Last week the Times revealed ordinary Cook Islanders were of the view cash flow had slowed, people were not spending and government needed to stimulate the economy to get more cash into circulation.
This week the Herald set out to ask a range of ordinary locals if they had confidence in the government being able to improve the situation they were in and what they thought government should do that will instill confidence and improve the economy.
It is fair to note that government is sitting on a pile of recommendations which came out of its economic summit exercise but many ordinary locals would not have participated in this exercise and they have their own views. As any politician knows, the views of common people assume great importance around general election time.
The answers were surprising and appear to indicate locals were indeed following government performance and the economy in general.
On condition locals speak freely and openly the Herald agreed not to reveal the names of the locals who commented.
Here are their views which were generally shared by most approached.
On the issue of confidence in government to change things
Most shared the view that government should be given a little more time to make changes. It has not quite been a year since the CIP government took over and there are three more years to go in this term.
On the issue of changes
1. Raise the income level exempt from tax from $10,000 to $15,000.
2. Abolish secondary tax.
3. Raise the minimum wage from $5 per hour to $10 per hour.
4. Abolish the withholding tax now rather than two years from now.
5. Freeze import of foreign labour.
6. Raise levies on imported goods which can be sourced locally, eg fresh vegetables.
7. Regulate the banking sector to bring down interest rates.
8. Earmark more funds for productive sectors like fishing and agriculture.
9. Simplify government procedures to speed up time spent on processing public applications for approvals, grants, licenses, permits.
Other comments included
1. Creating productive initiatives to boost outer island contribution to the national economy.
2. Having better measures of social performance to confirm whether financial performance is benefitting all in the community and not just a few. For example (by way of household survey); The unemployment rate for each island and the national rate; estimated disposable income per household; number of jobs held by household individuals; other measures considered helpful.
3. With food security becoming more important and the possibility of a world -wide shortage of food, boost agricultural and fish exports to reduce dependency on tourism.
Next week, we will seek views from government on the issue of intervention. What interventions government feel are appropriate and what interventions should be determined and set by market forces. -Charles Pitt

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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