Not ready for developed nation status

Tuesday February 20, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Friday night’s CITV news segment, featuring Murienua Demo MP and Shadow Finance spokesman James Beer’s comments on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) position that the Cook Islands is ready for ‘developed nation status’, is a major concern for all of us.


Which is why Beer deemed it important enough to explain via local television why we should be very worried, and the future ramifications for our people and country.

And so in support of the issues and concerns he has raised, I would like to add my own comments.

Within the Pacific region, New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries with developed nation status as determined by the OECD.

They have large populations supported by well-educated and hard-working labour forces with their private sectors at full throttle economically.

Their workforces are paid very high rates for their labour (as a result of their proactive and progressive economic policies), thanks to solid profit margins allowing them to do so.

As a result, New Zealand and Australia have such rampant economies that their economic model is the envy of many countries globally.

Yes, these two safe and wealthy countries really personify for many ‘the lands of milk and honey!’

Such is the success of these strong economies, their respective governments are able to employ a top-notch and well-paid administrative workforce to effectively monitor and run the country in all areas such as their primary economic industries, environment, defence, foreign affairs, taxes, statistics and treasury.

And as a result of their effectiveness as administrators, their cost-efficiency and cost-benefit as public servants looking after their people’s and country’s affairs is amongst the best in the world.

And as would be expected, especially in the area of responsibility, transparency and accountability, all use of taxpayers’ monies, especially in areas of tax matters, are matters of public interest.

Most certainly they wouldn’t allow a tax amnesty/write-off without open transparency to the public, unlike the Cook Islands government just recently. They would have made available to the public a comprehensive list of their clients who would have utilised this tax amnesty mechanism, particularly if they were senior government personnel or elected officials who had benefited, to fulfil the government’s legal obligation of responsibility, transparency and accountability to the public – and simply because it’s the public’s right to know.

Bluntly speaking, if their MPs or PM were protected by use of the ‘confidentiality’ card so that their details couldn’t be released, not surprisingly – like us – they would suspect a conspiracy and cover-up.

As we are aware, all Pacific nations like Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have the same status as the Cook Islands – we’re all developing nations.

And like them, our private sectors are nowhere near the potential that they could be at, if only the relevant and proactive economic policies had been instituted by their respective governments many years earlier.

As a result, the Cook Islands has a private sector that is operating at well below its economic potential, with there being insufficient investment in our primary industries for our own people to grow and benefit from.

As for our tourism industry, the model today is too top-heavy, with all our eggs in one basket.

Just one terrorist incident would likely kill the country’s economy, close down businesses and cost many jobs, whereby we’d all then emigrate to Aotearoa before we lose our NZ citizenship!

Yes indeed, the continual outflow of Cook Islanders to ‘the land of milk and honey’ would turn into a virtual flood, with them being replaced by ever-increasing numbers of foreign immigrants looking for employment (and likely probable integration, which also has the Koutu Nui very concerned at this worrying immigrant diaspora dynamic), and as has been suggested, eventually getting NZ citizenship through us!

And in the meantime, our government continues to do nothing to plug the holes of trending issues like our high cost of living, depopulation, mental health, immigration, economy, taxes, debt, the Air New Zealand plane subsidy, the on-again/off-again shipping subsidy – the list goes on!

Is it really surprising that more and more of us are now asking government, “Where is the money?”

And we’re supposed to be ready for developed nation status!? Puh-lease excuse me, but there are people out there who know it’s all a load of codswallop, because there is no bloody way our Te Ipukarea paradise economy is operating at anywhere close to its actual potential, taking into account our economies of scale ratio difference, compared to either New Zealand’s or Australia’s GDP or GNI assessment.

And this is simply for one reason only. This government’s failure to emulate the NZ economic model and drive the private sector to develop our own natural resources by and for our own tangata whenua with targetted and incentivised investment, relevant and specific to their input as either individuals or perhaps as a collective.

Of course, some may disagree with this approach, but if any reasonable government wants to arrest de-population and grow the economy to its full potential, then they should target the country’s very own natural resources, input the necessary investment incentives for only tangata whenua, and use people’s taxes (with economic assistance from New Zealand, Australia and the Asian Development Bank) to drive co-operative development and help grow their own economy, enrich their families, and secure their country’s very future! Yes, e whanau, as it’s often said, “Your future is in your hands”.

So let us secure our country’s future...

Ka kite e kia manuia.

            Papa Williams

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