And finance minister Mark Brown said health and education facilities remain a key priority area for government infrastructure investment throughout the Cook Islands.
For this immediate period, Brown, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister, said the government intends to invest in health-related infrastructure upgrades and replacement of some buildings on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua. “Rarotonga hospital will undergo major electrical upgrades, facilities improvements for better mental health services and total replacement of the Tupapa Outpatient clinic roof,” Brown said.
“Government also commits to replacing the Atiu doctors’ residence to accommodate visiting specialists and support the revolving ‘Flying Doctors’ programme. All efforts are targeted towards providing improved health facilities to support better service delivery for residents and visitors alike.”
The government will also be allocating funds for repairs on three of its buildings – the Bluesky Sports Arena, Police, and Justice.
The Ministry of Justice building, National Police Headquarters and Bluesky Sports Arena (formerly Telecom Sports Arena) were constructed in 2004, 2006 and 2009, respectively, by way of grant and concessional loans from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Brown said the buildings required various repairs and improvements, some of which have been addressed by the Cook Islands government.
“The current funding of $550,000 has been approved to commence the work around the replacement of the roller doors at the Bluesky Sports Arena, which is expected to take place this financial year.”
Brown also said the law and order sector of government is a priority in the upcoming budget as well.
The sector comprises of Cook Islands Police, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Corrective Services, Crown Law and Ombudsman who are agencies/institutions with closely linked mandates of administering justice and maintaining law and order in the Cook Islands.
“This government is strengthening this sector by investing in the right areas such as increasing remuneration for staff, providing additional funds to recruit critical positions to increase capacity and visibility of these agencies and provide the appropriate vehicles and other capital requirements such as communication systems,” Brown said.
“The government will look into investing in the right system accessible by all agencies in the sector, assist in core operational areas that will improve the services delivered to our people in the Cook Islands and assist with the safety of these employees who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis.
“The law and order sector is huge and has multiple areas that require improvements so government has committed to supporting these agencies for the next two years.”