More on ‘developed nation’ issue

Tuesday October 17, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor
Pacifi c governance and policy expert Geoff Bertram spoke on the Cook Islands graduation to developed nation status at USP recently. 17101632 Pacifi c governance and policy expert Geoff Bertram spoke on the Cook Islands graduation to developed nation status at USP recently. 17101632

So far, the most disappointing aspect of the debate on the Cook Islands graduating to developed nation status is that there has been no examination through your columns of the issue.


I suspect that everyone feels that they do not know enough about the issue, or that it is too complicated to pass judgement.

So, let me take the plunge - and question the logic driving this issue.

Back in the day when the self-governing status of the Cooks was being negotiated for recognition on the international scene, I can accept than a compromise was struck to distinguish the Cook Islands. Agencies like the OECD for example would have argued (and eventually accepted), that traditional models of measuring economies were the only available, and best compromise, in order for this recognition to pass muster.

All these years later, it is quite clear that those decisions were mollification arrangements and (hopefully) never intended to stand the test of time. Enduring the intervening years, these models most assuredly have reached the point now, where clearly no one understands nor believes the reports that are churned out, except for the OECD whose role is served by these peculiar assessments.

How wrong the whole concept has been. There is no consideration of the unique nature of the Cook Islands economy. We share another country’s currency. We have no Reserve Bank, no Treasury, no economy of scale, no exploitable natural resources.

How can you measure an economy when there is no control? At the risk of showing my ignorance, we need to better understand the singular nature of this economy and create reporting models that establish the true status of this country and better reflect what makes this micro-state tick.

I have enjoyed Geoff Bertram and Geoff Robertson’s talks at the USP in the recent past. But it’s all piecemeal. All these two have convinced me of, is the need for the tough questions to be asked and the economy to be re-calibrated. 

Where is an Investment Bank for example, where is the sovereign-wealth fund to soak up all this inflationary pressure from the economy. Are we using the best currency for our needs? Geoff Bertram made comparison between the Cook Islands and several other countries of similar size and contrast.

One particular country from the Caribbean as I recall, had a flat line “gross national income” scale. Although Bertram seemed to dismiss this option as not having a “good look,” I would say that a flat line scale is exactly where the Cooks needs to be! At least it would reflect a neutral status, which I would have thought better reflects our actual situation.

            Ross Smith

Editor’s note: CINews has in fact published a number of stories and opinions about this issue.

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