3 Apr 2007

Cook Islands to ask for further assistance over infrastructure

3:32 pm on 3 April 2007

The Cook Islands is to ask New Zealand and Australia for further assistance for the development of infrastructure in the outer islands.

The deputy prime minister, Dr Terepai Maoate, says 24.5 million U.S. dollars is earmarked for the next 3 years from New Zealand which is a substantial increase on its recent aid.

He says just over 7 million U.S. dollars of that total will be allocated to the cyclone management recovery programme which includes work on airports and harbours for the outer islands.

But Dr Maoate says this still leaves a big gap.

"That definitely is not enough for us to develop the outer islands which is my concern regarding the population. And, the reason I say that is because I know that the outer island infrastructures; that's why most of the people out there are moving out and moved out already because there's nothing much there for them to develop, especially in the private sector."

Dr Maoate says he will be raising those concerns with the New Zealand High Commissioner to find out if more can be done between the two countries to cover a possible 15 to 30 million U.S. dollar gap.

He will also be discussing the issues at cabinet tomorrow.