Panel members include Sandrina Thondoo from the ministry of internal affairs, Nathalie Cooke, from MFEM, Steve Anderson from the Chamber of Commerce (for employers), Tuaine Maunga of the Cook Islands Workers’ Association (for employees) and community representative Enua Pakitoa.
The panel was chaired by the ministry of internal affairs’ acting secretary, Paul Allsworth.
The panel’s aim is to strike a balance between the needs and abilities of all sectors and in order to hear the views of as many people as possible, there must be the opportunity for active discussion and debate from all corners of the community throughout the country, said Allsworth
“The panel will be organising public meetings, radio talkbacks and surveys over the next few weeks in order to collect as many views as possible before making their recommendation to internal affairs minister, Albert Nicholas.
“Economic environment and forecast will be essential in informing their final decision.
“The Cook Islands is a small open economy that is largely dependent on tourism. Despite being one of the most remote countries in the world, and one of the smallest, even by Pacific standards, the Cook Islands is the third most prosperous country per capita in the Pacific, behind New Zealand and Australia.
“The Cook Islands has enjoyed a sustained period of economic prosperity following the rapid growth of the tourism industry and a series of reforms following a crisis in 1996.
“The Cook Islands is a member of the International Labour Organisation and the establishment of this panel fits within the guideline as a useful measure of achieving decent work standards across the country.
“According to the ILO, an effective minimum wage is acceptable when it meets the needs of all parties. In addition, the minimum wage should protect low paid workers.”
The panel was looking forward to engaging with the community and being in a strong position to give the minister valuable recommendations reflecting the needs of this country, the spokesperson added.