25 Jun 2009

Niue Premier critical of quality of NZ support

3:30 pm on 25 June 2009

The Niue Finance Minister, Premier Toke Talagi, has been strongly critical of New Zealand's support for the island in his budget speech.

Mr Talagi says New Zealand has failed Niue completely in its push to develop its tourism and fishing sectors.

Don Wiseman has more.

"Mr Talagi says Niue has little room to financially manoeuvre and is heavily dependent on New Zealand for budget support, but Wellington falls down in meeting the other commitments made under the Halavaka Arrangement signed five years ago. He says trying to access infrastructure and investment funds often becomes bogged down in the bureaucratic process. He says it is very disappointing that when Niue has been trying to develop a meaningful economic base, New Zealand hasn't helped, and is still sitting on millions of dollars of allocated spending which is yet to be handed over. Mr Talagi says, based on the experience of the past five years, New Zealand cannot be depended on with any degree of certainty to provide project funding to help build the island's economy. Mr Talagi also called on government officials to pursue with vigour those who fail to pay their taxes, and was again critical of New Zealand over its failure to extend the term of an officer sent by Wellington to identify delinquent tax defaulters. He calls this truly baffling behaviour."