Archive for February, 2009
Cook Islands Herald
11 Feb 09
CIRA is delighted to announce the prize winners of the Pacific 2050 essay competition held to promote the theme of their February conference of the same title.
There were five prizes and the winners in order of merit were James Beer, Makiuti Tongia, Teina Bishop, Kate Ngatokorua and Mahariki Tangaroa as adjudicated by a panel of judges.
First prize of $1000 went to James Beer for his passionate advocacy of alternative energy in place of petrochemical fuel in his paper called ‘A practical energy transformation handbook for the Pacific today and tomorrow’.
Makiuti Tongia won $500 for his paper on ‘Cultural Evolution, the next 50 years’ which he jokingly announced would come in handy for his children’s trip to NZ soon.
Teina Bishop won $250 for his interpretation of ‘Cook Islands Tourism, prospects and potentials’ chaired by Aunty Vereara from CIANGO.
Kate Ngatokorua won $125 for her futuristic essay on ‘The lesson is learnt’ and speaks of ‘greed taking over the islands heart and core’ where ‘island ways had vanished’ and the ‘great divide’ began.
Mahariki also won $125 for her paper called ‘Carving out a future in contemporary visual art’ where our artists continue to travel internationally and that will ‘have inevitable impacts on creativity’ and ‘virtual reality sites via the internet are evolving’.
Other presenters included Nandi Glassie’s paper on ‘The evolution of leadership and governance in Atiu’; ‘Imported trees in Atiu – past disasters and future hopes’ by Papa Paiere Mokoroa; Jeane Matenga’s paper on ‘Developments and potentials for Cook Islands Communications’; Dr Jon Jonassen’s and his ‘Global, regional and national perspective’ on the Pacific in 2050 and Iaveta Short’s futuristic paper on ‘Hopes and Fears for the next 50 years’ .
Saturday papers included a paper on ‘Opening our ocean gateway prospects for the future’; ‘Possible, probable and preferred futures’ for the Cook Islands by Petero Okotai; and ‘Coke and coconut trees aka Enhancing the spirit of enterpise’ by Dr Ngamau Tou.
The panel of judges were impressed about the calibre and variety of works presented for judging adding that some of the Saturday presentations may have won a prize except the writers had not provided advance copies.
CIRA president Angie Tuara thanked all those who presented papers and noted some papers were not submitted in the essay competition in the adult category at the request of the writers.
Meitaki maata to Tata Crocombe for sponsoring the essay competitions, which has now been extended to the end of 2009 for the school students’ category.
Cook Islands News
Sat 07 Feb 2009
The Cook Islands Research Association’s economic crisis forum resulted in several common suggestions for priority actions for the country.
The association says overall the forum identified the need for a larger collaborative team involving the private sector and government to work together on the details of the stimulus package for 2009/2010 budget.
The forum included opinion from the private sector including the tourism industry, retail industry, and from the chamber of commerce, government, the opposition party, banks, and economists.
Key priorities for a stimulus package from government which these sectors identified at the forum were headed by the call for extra tourism promotion.
Other suggested priorities were investment in infrastructure (using local contractors), tax cuts, increased foreign investment, lower interest rates from banks (and maybe soft loans), and investment in primary industry (such as agriculture) especially in the outer islands.
Tourism marketing in the longer haul higher yield markets and the need for extra flights and carriers for the US, Europe and Australian markets was highlighted at the forum.
Many of those who spoke at the forum suggested that efforts need to be made to reduce the cost of telecommunications. The main calls are for government to allow competition for Telecom Cook Islands, to improve regulation and negotiate with TCI to improve services and keep prices down.
Finance minister Sir Terepai Maoate told the forum government wants to hear what advice there is to help grow the economy and weather an economic crisis.
Cook Islands Herald
Thurs 06 Feb 2009
The State of the Economy loomed large at the Government sponsored conference at the Crown Beach Resort on Wednesday to discuss the National Sustainable Development Plan aka Te Kaveinga Nui. The meeting attracted a very large turnout including the NZ High Commissioner, the President of the Are Ariki, Air NZ, President of the Koutu Nui and more.
The conference is to provide an opportunity for our decisions makers and leaders – whether traditional, government, business or community leaders – to take a closer look at the existing plans to see if they are sufficient to address the issues that have arisen in the wake of the global financial meltdown.
At the conference DPM, Sir Terepai Maoate explained that Te Kaveinga Nui was launched in 2007 amidst doubts that the NDSP would be shelved and gather dust instead of being implemented. Happily, that has not happened and there has been much progress in achieving the Goals within the plan.
For instance, in the social sector, the DPM cited the lifting of the personal tax threshold to $10,000 with Government considering raising the threshold even more. Others are the recent rise in pensions ‘easing the burden on our senior citizens’; the removal of import levies; and as an incentive to returning Cook Islanders, VAT has been removed from their personal and household items.
Nevertheless, the DPM acknowledged that as the plans have been implemented, some of the strategies and targets may have been a ‘bit too ambitious’ in terms of capacity in personnel and finance. He explained that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what is needed to meet the targets and perhaps be more realistic in planning for the future.
Superannuation board approves investment in Cook Islands
The DPM also made the surprise announcement that the Cook Islands Superannuation Board had approved the proposal to invest 20% of funds with our local banks.
Sir Terepai was enthusiastic about the decision made by the board which will ‘make more funds available in our banks’ that could be used for ‘building homes’ and ‘business investment’.
The Power of Collaboration
The theme is ‘The power of collaboration’ or ‘Mou i-te Mana o Te Taokotai’ with development economist, Vaine Wichman delivering her paper on the State of the Economy being first on the agenda, followed by a panel discussion led by Tou Ariki (House of Ariki), Mark Brown (Chamber) and Nikki Rattle (NGO).
Economic management will also be scrutinized ‘to ensure sound management of the Cook Islands economy’ as stated under goal 3 of the NSDP.
According to the background papers from OPM, the country is tracking reasonably well with MFEM succeeding ‘in maintaining the ratios of operation, debt [and] personnel put into place during the mid 1990s reform programme.
It will be interesting to see the reaction of the participants to that contention considering that Chamber of Commerce is on the record as being concerned about the ever increasing number of public servants. Figures differ with some saying they are approaching the numbers in 1995 just before the collapse of our economy leading to a mass layoffs in the public sector which in turn lead to an exodus of our people to New Zealand and Australia.
The background acknowledges the impact of the 5 cyclones on the economy and that GDP (gross domestic product) in 2006 at only 0.7% and 1.3% in 2007 and the rather optimistic projection that ‘growth will return to a long term growth rate of around 2%’.
The report also notes that ‘tourism by far remains the key driver of the economy’ at 50% of the GDP and the ‘challenges’ of this heavy reliance on the sector and that ‘it is anticipated that this will decline as a result of the global events’.
It is about looking at all the ‘key challenges’ and what needs to be done in each sector, for instance, in Social development or Economic development or Good governance or Infrastructure and Environmental sustainability. For instance, challenges facing Infrastructure are ‘what are our expectations in relation to water?’ or ‘what are our expectations in relation to waste management?’ or ‘how can we better manage our environment?’
Coook Islands News
Thurs 05 Feb 2009
Poor management is a key contributor to economic failure
ANZ bank general manager Phil Haynes, on behalf of the Cook Islands Bankers’ Association says an economic crisis should be seen as a weakness in which there must also be opportunities.
Speaking at the Cook Islands Research Association’s economic crisis summit yesterday, Haynes said much of the world crisis can be attributed to countries like the United States. He says over-consumption by the US is a product of greed and an example of common sense going straight out the window. Haynes says an example of this is that the US consumes about 20 percent of the world’s energy but has less than 10 percent of the world’s population.
Starting off his presentation, Haynes says he had not conferred with the Banker’s Association on what their current view is of the crisis. He says maybe the Cooks should take a leaf out of China’s book and ban the media from making any reference to words like economic crisis, downturn, depression and recession. “The pessimism sets in and then the bad news keeps flowing. People stop spending when they become scared about what the future holds,” he said.
But looking on the bright side can bring about economic recovery. Haynes says all economies go through a cycle of peaks and troughs commonly called the trade cycle. This trade cycle is driven by a number of factors and Haynes believes the troughs weed out bad performance in the economy.
He says it is only businesses with good management that will get through an economic crisis. Poor management on the part of individuals, businesses and governments is one of the key contributors to economic failure he says. “In the 15 years I’ve been in banking I’ve seen a number of business failures.” He says when businesses lose focus or don’t monitor the changes they need to make to change with the times then this is poor management. Not following accounting practices to be aware of profits can also be a downfall. His advice is to chase debtors and stretch creditors as much as possible. “Cash pays bills, profits don’t. Businesses can still fail if they don’t manage their cash.”
Keeping your bank informed of good times and bad can enable them to help, especially where loans and mortgages are concerned.
People management is critical to successful business says Haynes. Companies that are followers in the industry also don’t usually succeed he says.
Individuals are also guilty of poor management when they live beyond their means. Haynes says hard times should not be ignored and expenses should be looked at carefully. “Some people don’t know where their money goes,” he says. People that borrow for wants like travel, instead of needs like housing and education need to change their ways says Haynes.
“The Banker’s Association has long been concerned with the country’s liquidity.” He says in June 2008 the country’s borrowings exceeded its cash supply by $98 million. Haynes suggests what is critical to long term sustainable growth of the economy and social wellbeing of the people is the need to introduce a sustainable level of foreign investment and the need for infrastructure. The loss of skilled workers who head overseas is another concern for banks.
Investment in alternative energy should also be recognised by government he says. ANZ’s Aitutaki branch is solar powered, has provided over $17,000 in VAT to government as well as over 2800 kilowatt hours of power into the island’s grid free of charge. Haynes says more green initiatives like this will encourage economic growth.
Cook Islands News
Thurs 05 Feb 2009
When the Deputy Prime Minister Sir Terepai Maoate took the floor at yesterday’s economic forum, he picked up where Pastor Tutai Pere left off during the opening service. Pastor Pere said that that we are all but stewards or caretakers of what is on Earth, and without the right type of people in place, everything we do is useless. Sir Terepai reiterated that point adding that we are all servants of God’s wealth and that we should carry this out with honesty and integrity.
The DPM said like he told last week’s National Sustainable Development Plan summit, we have already identified our problems and there is “no point in pointing fingers”. “We should be brainstorming on the solutions.” Since last November’s supplementary budget, he said that government is trying to deflect the impacts on Cook Islands of an economy that is slowing down. The building of the multi-sports complex has copped a lot of criticism in the past. But Sir Terepai said that if government did not go ahead with the stadium, “what else have we got”.
“On one hand we were so concerned about projects that we’re not bringing in economic benefits. But as we can see now this will be the replacement of a deficit of our tourists coming to our country [for the two major sporting events this year].” He said the government also received criticism at the time it started putting money aside for reserves for a rainy day.
Sir Terepai said that time has arrived, and it will continue to put money away for future rainy days. Cabinet has finalised the budget policy statement and the DPM said the best thing those at the summit could do is to give their thoughts on what government should do in order to stimulate the economy to maintain the status quo.
In opening the summit, Cook Islands Research Association president Angie Tuara said that the aims of the forum are to encourage dialogue between government, private sector and community; coming up with constructive views and solutions; and not straying to far away from the issues that affect us.
Cook Islands Research Association looks at the present crisis and at the future
The association is holding its annual conference on 5, 6 and 7 February 2009 on the future of the Cook Islands and the Pacific.
But because of the effects of the current world financial crisis on the Cook Islands already, and with much more expected, we were asked to open a public discussion on that topic.
SO the previous day, Wednesday 4th February 2009, is being devoted to an additional conference entitled “The Economic Crisis Forum” at which the views of government, business, NGOs and any interested members of the public, will be expressed and discussed.
Cook Islands Research Association
Economic Crisis Forum
4th February 2009
2. Address setting the tone and aims of the Summit – CIRA President
3. Speeches by PM and Leader of the Opposition
4. Current national economic and financial position of the Cook Islands – MFEM/Stats
5. Banking/credit outline: considerations for business short & mid term – BCI/Westpac/ANZ
6. Global economic crisis: impact and reaction
7. Q&A for first 3 presentations (40-60 mins)
9. Private sector status, challenges and priorities – Chamber of Commerce
10. Tourism – private sector
11. Infrastructure and building – private sector
13. Q&A – tourism & BTIB, banks
14. Business development and investment: need to for a co-ordinated/collaborative approach – BTIB
15. A way forward for the economy – discussion
16. Resolutions, next meeting – Chair
Economic summit tomorrow
Cook Islands News
CIRA prepares for Pacific 2050 conference
Cook Islands Herald