6 Jan 2021

Cook Islands extends wage subsidy as it holds out for travel bubble

9:42 am on 6 January 2021

The Cook Islands government has extended the country's wage subsidy through until March.

In a New Year's address, Prime Minister Mark Brown said the extension would align with the border opening to New Zealanders in less than three months.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown Photo: Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration

Brown said the government would also extend a reduction in superannuation rates, and an electricity discount for houses and businesses.

"As we move into 2021 I want us all to be prepared for difficult times over the coming months," he said. "We are still doing all that we can to support all of you - both households and businesses."

The government has so far spent US$38 million supporting the subsidy, which he said has helped more than 4,000 people and 400 businesses.

"We believe that it is this support that has kept our businesses afloat, staff employed and has ensured that you have all had a merry Christmas," Brown said in his address.

"The extraordinary government financial assistance to households and businesses is working as far as it can, now we look forward to the borders reopening so that the private sector can lead our recovery."

Brown added that work continues to prepare for the travel bubble, including the redesign of Rarotonga Airport and the upgrade of the island's hospital.

"I know that there is some fear in the community, but I want to once again reassure you that the government is committed to a safe re-opening of the borders."