Cook Islands passes budget

Mark Brown

Cook Islands parliament has passed what Prime Minister Mark Brown has dubbed “a budget of revival.”

The US$212 million budget includes an additional US7.7 million allocation for government agencies than was originally earmarked.

Before speaking about this year’s Budget, Brown acknowledged the previous year’s spending and growth: “A record year for growth, a record year for tourism, a record year for business, a record year for clearing debt, and a record year for profit, for all of our people.

“Then in March last year Covid reared its ugly head and we closed our borders to keep this killer out.”

Referring to the Appropriation Bill before the House, the Prime Minister said: “This is a budget that will help get our country back on its feet, this is a budget that will help and encourage our business, it is a budget that will encourage innovation amongst our people, it is a budget that will ignite the spirit of our people and reclaim what we have lost by Covid.”

The Government predicted gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 8.8% for the fiscal year, which begins next month and runs through 30 June, 2022.

GDP is expected to grow by a further 14.1% in 2022-23, when it is expected the main tourism markets of New Zealand and Australia will return to historic levels, with other markets beginning to pick up.

A further 7.3% increase is projected in 2023-24.