26 May 2004

Cook Islands government presents best budget ever says finance minister

1:55 pm on 26 May 2004

The Cook Islands government is presenting its budget in parliament tonight with health, education and infrastructure the big winners.

The Finance Minister, Tapi Taio, says there is money to spend as the government delivers a 58.1 million U.S. dollar budget, an increase of 5.9 million over last year.

He says most departments will be getting increases of between 9 to 12 percent.

But, Mr Taio says more money has been allocated for health.

"We have been building new hospitals around the islands - Mauke, Mitiaro, Manihiki for the two islands, Tauhunu and Tukao. There's at least four new hospitals that have been established and they need to be supplied with equipment. That's why there's a big increase for the health."

There's also an emphasis on the outer islands with funding allocated for upgrading the airport on Manihiki, the development of harbours in Penrhyn and Mitiaro, and the supply of water tanks for Atiu and Aitutaki.