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Private sector needs help to prosper

Monday January 18, 2016 Written by Published in Local
Smiling young entrepreneurs sell their goods roadside in Arorangi. Local business owner Rohan Ellis said this kind of business venture is great to see. Smiling young entrepreneurs sell their goods roadside in Arorangi. Local business owner Rohan Ellis said this kind of business venture is great to see.

A local businessman is calling on the government to work more closely with the private sector to help the Cook Islands prosper – and keep more kukis at home.


The Islander Hotel owner Rohan Ellis is a well-known entrepreneur and smart businessman on Rarotonga  with an extensive background in what it takes to make a good business tick.

But the former chief executive of the Cook Islands Development Investment Board believes more long-term planning in collaboration with the private sector needs to be done, if the Cook Islands are going to continue to prosper as a tourism hub.

“The public sector is not going to make the government any money, it’s the private sector that they really need to invest in.”

Ellis said it would be about planning policies around what is best for the private sector.

Ellis was open to foreign ownership of businesses, saying there was room for everyone.

“But there are some really entrepreneurial Cook Islanders – you are seeing far more home-vendors than you used to.

“That status barrier of not wanting to be seen as a vendor has gone, which is really good and providing more income.”

Though as a member of the Public Service Strategy panel, Ellis said depopulation was a crucial issue, as was political reform.

Ellis was unsure whether
political reform would happen any time soon; however he believed depopulation was something that needed to be addressed.

“Cook Islanders will return if they get a better quality of life, and are earning more money.”

Ellis also believed education was the key to the future, and hoped young people would be inspired to study abroad before returning home.

“Young people are the future of our country and they need to be inspired and want to give back to the country.”

Ellis said their were some sectors getting it right, but diversifying the economy, growing tourism and inspiring young people would be the key to a prosperous future for the Cook Islands.

But he applauded the government for the development work they had done in the Pa Enua, particularly the northern group solar project.

“This opens the opportunity for development in those islands, particularly around tourism.”

Asked what would happen if nothing changed in the next five to 10 years, Ellis was optimistic.

“We would get there – it’s just going to take a lot longer.”

And Ellis’ dream for the Cook Islands is simple – for every Cook Islander to gain meaningful employment


  • Comment Link AARON Saturday, 23 January 2016 18:25 posted by AARON

    Hi James and Debi

    my name is Aaron reading your comments regarding your power bill and the high charges you have , email me regarding how i can help with reducing your power bills i can help with very efficient solar with storage capacity for your private business we can half or be totally off the grid


  • Comment Link James and Debi Tuesday, 19 January 2016 08:19 posted by James and Debi

    Totally agree. We in the brewery get charged the same excise tax as off shore breweries and yet they don't have any where near the same overheads we do eg it costs us more to ship a pallet of bottles than it does to buy one! Let's not go there with our power bill. These sorts of things mean we cannot come near to competing in price with imported products. How can some places be importing beer and selling it at a price we can't even manufacture it at and still be making a profit!? Other countries support their own countries businesses by exempting them from the taxes that are attached to imported products.

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