23 May 2020

Cook Island businesses plea for financial help

10:18 am on 23 May 2020

The Cook Islands Private Sector Taskforce says businesses need an immediate capital injection to survive the effects of Covid-19.

A main street in Rarotonga

A main street in Rarotonga Photo: RNZI / Mary Baines

Earlier this month a survey the taskforce conducted showed dozens of businesses on the verge of closing down.

The taskforce said there must be an urgent reprioritisation of government expenditure, with another $US10.4 million dollars to help businesses survive.

It said the funding was needed before the next phase of the economic recovery package came through in July.

The group sent the government a package of measures outlining what it thought should be done.

An immediate priority should be to negotiate a shared travel bubble with New Zealand to aid the tourism-led recovery of the economy, it said.

Tourism was the only industry that could support a quick recovery, according to the taskforce.

It also wanted to see business continuity support in the form of a monthly sum so fixed overheads could be met; wage subsidies to be continued until economic recovery was underway; sole traders given grants equal to the minimum wage; and a hold put on superannuation payments.

Rarotonga airport

There are hopes the Cook Islands can be included in a potential trans-Tasman travel bubble Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel