17 Mar 2011

Warning over proposed tax cuts for Cook Islands outer islands

8:20 pm on 17 March 2011

The president of the main opposition party in the Cook Islands says a recommendation to abolish or cut taxes to the outer islands will increase the burden on Rarotonga.

The measure's been submitted to government for consideration in the next budget by an economic taskforce that's also recommended raising the minimum wage and reducing interest rates.

Democratic Party President Sean Willis says the tax cutting proposal is window dressing which won't go down well with Rarotonga businesses.

"Basically 90 percent out of all earnings in this country comes out of Rarotonga. If you are going to reduce what you charge to the people in the outer islands, it increases the burden on Rarotonga. So what do you do, in order to stimulate growth in the outer islands you flog the horse - what happens if the horse dies."

Sean Willis says small programmes such as the Democratic Party's initiative to encourage the outer islands to produce crops for the Rarotonga market would go a long way to stimulating growth.