HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 596: 29 December2011

News in Brief

PM in glasshouse & our country in bottleneck
As I write this, rain is pouring down by the buckets in what seems to be a flash of unexpected heavy monsoon downpour. Although it has been forecast, it is only when it hits that we get to appreciate the strength of nature and we realise that there are some things we are not master of and we are really at their mercy.
This is very much like the Cook Islands economy. It is very fragile and at the mercy of the global trends. The financial problem Greece, Spain and Europe in general is experiencing is going to find its way here. You see we are a small island nation, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with little or no resources and with only tourism as our main revenue earner. Our status is that of being in a “bottleneck” and in a very vulnerable situation.
So what is this Government doing about it? Well, for one thing it is quick to make announcements of anything sounding or looking to be on the plus side of the ledger. It jumped and proclaimed a $2.4 surplus. The Prime Minister said to me that figures don’t lie but even he did not consider the context carefully of the prediction. Figures in fact do lie and it is wrong to pin your hopes on intangibles and things that could be manipulated to meet your own expectations. The Prime Minister lives in a glass house that could be shattered at an instance and does not like to hear bad news and if he did he will manipulate it into good news. In finance, that’s called “hedging” – otherwise falsely declaring your state of finances. Any financial broker or banker who does hedging is a desperate one. That’s what this Government is doing, giving us false hopes.
Okay, how can one understand context? Well, if you predict and announce a surplus you should also tell of what your expected expenditure is going to be. And then you tell as well as you can what your surprises and unbudgeted expenses are. It is the expenditure side of the ledger that the Government has not told; I believe he has not even carefully analysed it. If they did, then they must know that they cannot meet their planned spending and a prudent Government will always set money aside for unexpected expenses. I’m not talking about reserves because there are statutory restrictions on these; I’m talking about spare cash to inject into the incoming budget. These are needed to cover those over the top and off the cuff vote buying expenses that this current Government shows propensity towards.
But, the sorry fact is that the PM and his cabinet of Ministers, in particular the Minister of Finance has not lifted a hand to help the engine room of the economy, the businesses particularly the established ones. In these unpredictable and unsteady times, any responsible government should get in behind with incentives to encourage the viability of its biggest and steadiest value added tax payers. Unfortunately, the Government brushes over these all under the guise of tourism – generality rather than specifics.
For all you Democratic Party supporters out there and would be supporters – I’ have eased down on my criticism of the Government in this column because we are to enter into the New Year. That’s when I will be raising the stakes and holds the Government accountable and will expose it for failings.
Anyway, the Opposition Leader Robert Wigmore, I, all Caucus members and the executives of the party from President, Secretary General and on wishes everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. Gear up for next year and fight for honesty, justice and good governance amongst other important values that we as Cook Islanders want and are entitled to. - Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rassmuessen

Government to gift PRs
The Cook Islands’ government has announced it will give Permanent Residence status to more than 50 spouses living on the island as a New Years gift.
Many of those who qualify have been living in the Cook Islands with their partners for more than fifteen years.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration says a mass ceremony for the new Permanent Residents will be held at the beginning of 2012. Permanent residents can apply for permits under the Entry Residence and Departure act of the Cook Islands.
But only 650 residents could hold these Permanent Residency permits at one time. In 2008, the government declared it would introduce a special residency application category for spouses of Cook Islanders, which would be able to issue an unlimited amount of permits.

Actually, my Christmas began a little early, on a Friday afternoon. Why? Because Friday meant late night shopping. And late night shopping meant that I could spend my hard-earned money until my wallet was empty (Well, not quite. I was stuck on a tight $50 budget. Don’t ask) I hitched a ride with my beloved Aunty Kath and her “lil’ angel” Talia. The plan was to go to all the stores that had the cheapest toys (Tuki’s, Mareko’s and Raromart are lifesavers) so that my aunty and I had enough money to spend on ourselves. Shopping for the kids was a real chore, because we just wanted to buy this and that. In the end, our shopping basket was filled with a battery-powered plane and guitar, a beach set and a teeny-weeny purse just for Talia.
Now it was the adults turn to shop. I already had my eyes on a dress that fitted me perfectly and most importantly, didn’t go over my $50 pathetic budget. The day before, I hid it behind a different heap of clothes so that nobody would notice it and steal it (Trust me; you would have done the same thing if you were as desperate). Lucky for me, my dress was still on the rack. Good thing too, because that dress was the only one in my size. Lolz. Aunty Kath was kind enough to buy a plate of food to feed the both of us. Thank you, Aunty Kath! All too soon, the day came to an end. I got home, with my one dress (sad one, eh?) and presented it to my mother. She looked at me, as if she were saying, And where’s mine? I felt a little guilty after that.
What’s the first thing I see when I open my eyes? A gloomy sky, with no hopes of sunshine. Jeez, what sort of weather was this for a Christmas day? To make it even worse, I knew that we were going to cook for nearly half the day. Sucks, right? I mean, who wants to spend their Christmas cooking the whole freakin’ day? It’s just really depressing. Christmas is supposed to be a time of relaxation and fun. Not running around and getting growled at because you didn’t boil the water, or because you didn’t slice the fish properly. Gosh, the cooking was the really depressing part of the day.
Now, it was time for a party! Things didn’t go quite as planned (they never do on Christmas). Dad had done an umu. I don‘t know what for, though. Maybe he was expecting a hundred guests to come over. That didn’t happen, so we gapped it up to my Aunty Kath’s place. We had the meanest feed (Aunty Kath made an epic trifle. Meanage!) and the oldies had a fun time drinking, while I was watching the latest animes’ on the island. My two cousins, Moana and Talia, were great company, even if they can’t speak properly. All in all, my Christmas was cool. -Norma Ngatamariki

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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