All smiles at the signing of agreement by Pukapuka MP and Government
There were smiles all round at the signing of the agreement of understanding between Government and Independent Pukapuka MP held in the conference room at Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
Signatories to the agreement were Sir Terepai Maoate as Leader of the Democratic Party, Pukapuka MP, Vai Peua and Hon Jim Marurai as the Prime Minister with all of the Government MPs on hand to witness the occasion.
The agreement is that the Independent MP will support all Government initiatives especially budgetary mattes to ensure stability in the governance of the country. The agreement means that the MP will now be able to attend all meetings held by the Democratic Party and participate and have his input into their discussions.
Mr Peua said the agreement would be beneficial for his people and his constituency were in favour of the move and have provided him with a letter of support. Not only that but their Arikinui Tetio Kaitara Pakitonga, Mr Paulo Paulo also approves of the move.
The agreement is flexible enough to allow Peua to opt out of particular issues if necessary.
Government to sack committee for Stimulus Economic Package'
The inability of the committee established to administer the $3 million stimulus package to come up with a workable policy has disappointed the Government to the point that it was announced in Parliament that the committee would be sacked.
The announcement was made by Sir Terepai Maoate, in his role as Finance Minister who said the $3 million package had been provided by Government some 5 months ago, and to this date, the committee had still not come up with a firm policy as to how to allocate the funds, what the capped level of assistance would be, nor the criteria for eligibility.
The funds are to be channelled to those in the tourism industry who qualify for assistance who can apply to refinance their existing business loans to a subsidized rate of 5% through the Bank of Cook Islands.
In the corridors of Parliament, there were whisperings by others, that the committee may have been overly influenced by outside influences and could not make a decision for fear of public criticism.
What is the package?
According to the intention of Government, the assistance package is for micro, small and medium businesses (in tourism related industries) who have been operating for a minimum of 3 years or more.
• Micro: $30,000 turnover, less than 5 employees, assets less than $100,00;
• Small: $30,001 to $100,000 turnover, 5-10 employees, assets less than $500,000;
• Medium: $100,001 to $1.5 million turnover, 10-20 employees, assets up to $1 million
CI Times has tried to get comment on the axing of the committee from the BTIB, BCI, FMEM but were unable to reach the decision makers prior to going to print on Friday afternoon.
Seabed Minerals Bill to go to Select Committee
The long awaited Seabed Minerals Bill 2009 was tabled in Parliament on Thursday 19 March and went straight to a Special Select Committee.
Members of the Committee are Wilke Rasmussen, Junior Maoate and Winton Pickering. Opposition members are not yet confirmed but are believed to be Tom Marsters and Alberto (Peto) Nicholas.
The Bill had been shown to various groups including the House of Ariki as well as a public meeting with the DPM and Associate Minister, Junior Maoate saying there was very positive feedback from the community.
At 146 pages long, the Bill has 231 provisions. Matters covered include:
• s 4: Ownership of Minerals (vested in the Crown);
• s 15: Establishment of the CI Seabed Minerals Authority (based in Rarotonga ‘with separate offices’ in the Northern and Southern group of islands;
• s 16: Functions of CI Seabed Minerals Authority (a) to regulate seabed mineral activity, (b) to ensure provisions are complied with;
• s 17: General powers (a) to enter into contracts; (d) promote wise use of seabed minerals and regulate the use of those resources as provided in the Act;
• s 23: Appointment of Seabed Minerals Commissioner appointed by ‘responsible Minster’ with the ‘concurrence of Cabinet’;
• s 26: Delegation of powers by Commissioner (to any officer of the Authority);
• s 38: Chair of the Board (term of 3 years);
• s 45: Simplified outline (for grant of)
• (a) prospecting licence;
• (b) exploration licence;
• (c) mining licence,
• (d) retention lease
• s 154: Conditions – Work practices covering (c) to ensure activities are carried out at a standard accepted as proper and reasonable in the seabed mining industry and;
• (d) to promote the health, safety and welfare of people involved in the activities in and about the lease area.
CI Herald was told the Select Committee met for the first time on Friday 20 March but has not been able to confirm this.
The Select Committee will accept public submissions, with a very tight timeline of two weeks for those who wish to make comment. Copies may be obtained from the Parliamentary staff on 26500.
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