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CI Times Weekly | Current Issue 256 | 23 June 2008

Uncertain times ahead

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Sir Terepai Maoate will be closely monitoring taxation and other Crown revenues over the next three months to see whether Budgetary forecasts are on track.
While the Minister told the House in his Financial Statement our economy was entering a phase of economic uncertainty due to unstable global economic trends such as the rising fuel prices, global credit crunch and food shortages, he’s never the less adopting a positive outlook and holding out for moderate growth.
The Minister must be congratulated for at least going public on the economic uncertainty we are facing and the likely impact. This is the confirmation we have long waited to hear from government. This is in essence, a tight, focused budget for tight times. It focuses on key national priorities rather than the narrower interests of individual Ministers or particular sections of the community. In this respect it may not be popular with some MPs.
The problem is government is now faced with a race against time as the cracks have already begun appearing in our society with many in the tourism industry and retail outlets now facing financial hardship. Hotel occupancy in Aitutaki, our jewel in the crown, is said to be around 30% and this is supposed to be the peak season. Not to mention ordinary workers, some of whom have been laid off work or who are struggling to put meals on tables due to rising food, fuel, power and commodity prices.
The tourism industry, the main driver of our economy has taken a big hit. The northern hemisphere market has all but collapsed. Airlines have cut back on long haul flights and airfares are rising. While government forecasts visitor numbers to grow by a moderate 2.7% before flattening out in the medium term, that growth does not necessarily translate into any marked increase in visitor spending. Over the past three years there has been a growing trend of visitors staying in private homes.
While the Budget sets out some initiatives to assist tourism, government should have set aside some funds to set up a special team to look into our tourism industry as it has become clear that tourism planning is not well integrated with planning related to other sectors reliant on tourism (A separate story follows).
It is good to see government plans to strengthen institutional support in an endeavour to deliver quality services. Good government starts with having good policy advisors who can provide sound advice. Good policy developers actually save government money in the long run. There should now be a commitment by government to disregard political loyalties and select persons based on their ability.
The Minister is to be congratulated for increasing pensions. Many on the outer islands are pensioners and face higher costs for goods than those on Rarotonga. However, government should also bear in mind the need to review the basic wage of $5 per hour.
Given the tight situation government is in, the Minister advised the House in his Financial Statement of the need to explore avenues to diversify our economic base into other critical sectors is unavoidable if we are to maintain a vibrant society founded on solid economic fundamentals. This must include initiatives for the outer islands or migration will increase. The Times has been told that a tere party of 30 from Penrhyn traveling overseas in August cannot confirm their return numbers because some may not be returning. In the Budget, Penrhyn has been allocated $565,479 a cut of 13% compared to last year. Mitiaro and Rakhanga have had cuts of 2% compared to last.
The soaring costs of imported foodstuffs is referred to in the Budget document. There is also reference to taking advantage of opportunities for investment in agriculture.
In his Statement, the Minister says government will continue pressing on in the aim of identifying further areas where tangible assistance can be provided to the people of this country and that this may be in the area of subsidies or further tax reform.

Headlines : Times 256 23 June 2008
- Uncertain times ahead
- The Budget: Where the money comes from
- Sunday flights a concern to Aitutaki residents
- Consultant to advise on growing the offshore finance industry
- Community workshops on climate change issues

Headlines : Times 255 16 June 2008
- Cabinet meet to discuss Ui Ariki, Digicel
- No Jail time for Areai
- Proclamation by the Ui Ariki
- Dinner for the Woman of the Month
- Queens in camp for new launch

Headlines : Times 254 09 June 2008
- PM wraps up in Rome – heads for home
- Report card on Takitumu Lagoon Day
- Aere ra, Krystina
- Former boxers invited to provide support
- $47 million to upgrade water supply

Headlines : Times 253 02 June 2008
- Saving Aitutaki
- Tepaki Group committed to Maeva Nui sponsorship
- Takitumu Lagoon Day will show what you can do to help
- Tropikana-a sweet inspiration
- Landowner opposes Taakoka Villas application for reinstatement

Headlines : Times 250 12 May 2008
- High Court ruling will decide if Company can compete with Telecom
- HTTC students get a taste for the good life
- Cook Islands Community Services of Victoria Incorporated launched in Australia
- Lagoon Field Day on 6 June 2008
- 500 days to the Pacific Mini Games

Headlines : Times 249 05 May 2008
- ‘Mr Bankruptcy’ seeks new partners
- The contracting out option
- Cook Islands to feature on TVNZ
- Candles in the wind
- Airport commercial spaces the other side of the story
- Aitutaki wedding for Helen Henry and Prof John Hay

Headlines : Times 239 25 February 2008
- Mitiaro identity recovers well
- Government team developing website
- Business Leaders told profits are green
- Award dinner for Woman of the Month for February
- After 5 Business Talk at Club Bana

Headlines : Times 234 21 January 2008
- “It’s not a nice day.” –Tapi Taio
- Freak storm takes Raro by surprise, causes havoc
DPM seeks inclusion in Alcatel cable network with Samoa and other Pacific nations
- Search on for promising young boxers
- Women’s activist, Lynnsay Francis on brief visit home
- SENZ education founders not sitting on their laurels

Headlines : Times 232 24 December 2007
- Response by DPM to ADB loan upgrade reveals concerns
- Tumutevarovaro Games declared a resounding success
- Italian Assists Cook Islands Climate Change Agenda
- Concept for new Te Aponga logo decided
- The woes of Pacific Engineering Standards!
- Koutu Nui visit to First Nations in Canada

Headlines : Times 231 17 December 2007
- Takitumu Basketball Gold contenders disqualified over wrong colour shorts
- Political reform: are we taking the right approach?
- Award of Contract for the Rehabilitation of Avatiu Harbour Marina
- The new face at the helm of Cook Islands Nursing
- Christmas presents from the Indian community to Creative Centre
- Former agriculture research station in Totokoitu under dispute

Headlines : Times 230 10 December 2007
- A travesty of personalities!
- Maine Tiare girls at Competition Finale at Auditorium
- What is happening at the Punanga Nui?
- Cook Islands World AIDS Day 2007
- We still owe $54.8 million
- Boxing: Club competition set for 18 December
- Youngsters urged to take up boxing
- A Cook Island experience in China Final

Headlines : Times 230 10 December 2007
- A travesty of personalities!
- Maine Tiare girls at Competition Finale at Auditorium
- What is happening at the Punanga Nui?
- Cook Islands World AIDS Day 2007
- We still owe $54.8 million
- Boxing: Club competition set for 18 December
- Youngsters urged to take up boxing
- A Cook Island experience in China Final

Headlines : Times 229 03 December 2007
- Over $50,000 raised for Hosking family
- Industry ushers in new media council
- USP Pro Vice Chancellor upbeat on proposed International Campus in Totokoitu
- Forever young – the new 60s social club
- Audit Office reports busy year
- Appeal in land partition case – Privy Council only recourse after Court of Appeal decision?

Headlines : Times 228 26 November 2007
- $3,500 super nest egg disappears
- Finance Secretary continues to comment on indoor sports complex
- Manganese fever, the new gold rush
- Cook Islands given tourism destination rating of 69
- Tepaki Group host netball team
- A Cook Island experience in China Part II
- Te Mire Tarai Vaka parade

Headlines : Times 224 29 October 2007
- Asbestos to go to watery grave
- CISNOC President thankful that decision on Sports Stadium made
- Cooks NGO to commit to conference goals
- Cost of bread increases as of November 4th
- Leaders call for immediate action to protect region’s fisheries
- Rarotonga scooter club
- CICC celebrate Gospel Day with Nuku Religious Pageants
- Letter to the Editor: Health Ministry recruitment process
- Boxing Association begins promotion
- Auckland East Win Roller Mills
- Party to celebrate opening of new Ocean & Earth store at Turtles
- Oasis Hydroponics set to expand

Headlines : Times 223 22 October 2007
- Fiji, RAMSI, Pacific Plan main issues for PM at Leaders meeting in Tonga
- Takuvaine bridges in need of attention
- Man remanded back in custody
- Clemency celebrates her Masters in Health Practice & Nursing
- Commemoration of Te Rua-o-Te-Tonga Meeting House
- Ten minutes with Krystina Kauvai
- Blue Light Day at Te Atukura ready for Saturday night
- Koutu Nui to attend Climate Change meeting
- Days away from the biggest Conservation Conference for the Pacific
- Conservation Conference casts a wide information net

Headlines : Times 222 15 October 2007
- The CPU saga- Lets get back to the central issue-Cowan
- Delay in Police investigation into Rakahanga case
- Government has lost its focus-Marsters
- Pacific countries discuss Tuna Fishing Management Options for region
- Graduation ceremony for Midwifery Graduates at Public Health
- Public Health conduct October Tutaka to fight dengue
- 2008 Pacific Year of the Reef
- Experts help to develop policies

Headlines : Times 221 08 October 2007
- The CPU saga-the other side of the story
- British Crown may have a duty to Cook Islanders following 1950s A bomb tests
- Fast ferry a step closer
- Financial Secretary recommends upgrade of facilities for Mini Games
- AOG Conference in October
- Cook Islands to attend Lawn Bowls World Singles Champion of Champions
- Business Toolkits workshop opens new pathways for participants
- World Cup next for Sam Pera Jnr
- Good rankings for Sam Pera Jnr
- Power prices set to increase again

Headlines : Times 220 30 September 2007
- Manihiki medical emergency details
- Stop Press: 60kg of donated drugs dumped by Ministry
- Surveyor in beach saga explains his role
- Staff flee MFEM-why?
- Exactly what is our population and ethnic mix?
- Reception for French Naval Officers at Te Atukura
- French helicopter lands at Tereora
- Historical trip reunites families
- Woman of the Month Award
- A Letter Home
- SPREP works to combat invasive species

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