19 May 2012

Cook Islands government increasing pension

8:17 am on 19 May 2012

Cook Islands pensions are going up from July under a three-year government plan to double superannuation payments by 2015.

The minister of finance and economic management, Mark Brown, says the Cook Islands government will make good on its promise announced last December to double the pension to people aged 70 and over.

Pensioners will receive $400 per fortnight once the full increase is introduced, bringing their payment to an equivalent of the minimum wage and double what they currently receive.

Mr Brown says the first increase planned from July hasn't been set but cabinet has approved the incremental increase to begin.

Those aged 60 and older receive a government pension, although an increase is not on the cards for pensioners under 70.

The director of Te Kainga Mental Health Services, Mereana Taikoko, welcomed the planned increase, saying that pensioners were often struggling to meet the rising costs of living while paying for the extra health care they require.

But she warned that the government must ensure that the extra cash is going to where it is intended, especially in the case of pensioners living with mental disabilities and other mental health problems.