9 Oct 2007

Cook Islands politicians still to decide on loan from China for sports stadium

3:45 pm on 9 October 2007

The Cook Islands Finance Ministry is strongly advising the government against using a Chinese grant for the building of a sports complex.

China is offering a grant of around four million US dollars for a Chinese construction company to build a multi-sports complex for the 2009 South Pacific Mini Games.

It's been almost a month since the government put a loan offer of the same amount on hold, and a decision on whether to use the grant has not yet been finalised.

The Finance secretary, Sholan Ivaiti, says repairs and maintenance for the building would cost about a quarter of a million dollars each year for twenty years.

And he says cost recovery from the sports centre would be minimal.

"We're not convinced that after the games this complex will be fully utilised. we've done some research and it's indicated to us that only about 3 to 4 sporting codes will be using this and I don't believe the frequency would be viable enough to get some sort of cost recovery."

Mr Ivaiti says there are other infrastructural priorities, such as upgrading the harbour.