30 Aug 2021

Cook Islands reinstates wage subsidies and grants

11:16 am on 30 August 2021

With the country's tourism industry now back in pause mode due to the pandemic, the Cook Islands government has announced the reinstatement of wage subsidies and sole trader grants.

The move comes two weeks after New Zealand detected cases of Covid-19 in the community, prompting a swift suspension of the travel bubble it had opened with the Cook Islands in May.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown

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

Prime Minister Mark Brown said that if there was a further extension of the border closure with New Zealand, the government would also look at bringing back a one-off business grant in October.

Describing the economy's current phase as "recovery mode", Brown said there was a need for "short, sharp support", adding that the government will achieve this by getting cash to businesses for August and September.

"If New Zealand is not able to contain the current (Covid-19) outbreak then we will consider additional support measures depending on the length of time we are looking at.

"But businesses can be much more confident now, than at the start of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020," Brown said.

The Prime Minister noted the challenge facing government agencies of working to ensure the right balance for both the health of people in the Cook Islands as well as the recovery of the economy.

"This is a delicate balancing act and to date we believe by working closely with New Zealand and their advisors as well as our own, we have kept our country completely Covid-19 free. One of the very few countries in the world to achieve that.

According to Brown, the government's focus this year and into the next two financial years remained firmly on economic recovery, which he said it was doing in partnership with the private sector under the Economic Recovery Roadmap.

"This pause gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past three months, and take learnings from this period, and position ourselves even better for when the borders reopen."

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