Avana Point and foreign investment

Wednesday August 01, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Kia Orana Editor,

I was pleased to read your news article in the July 30 edition of CINews, and especially with regard to Paul Allsworth’s comments representing the thoughts of the Koutu Nui.

 

Of particular note was Paul’s comment regarding “Cook Islands first, and not the business interests and objectives of foreign entrepreneurs with substantial capital”.

It has been really noticeable over the last decade or so how many manuiri purporting to have the love and interest of the Cook Islands at heart are in reality only here to speculate on properties.

They chuck in a few dollars to pretty up a property they have managed to buy (one also has to wonder at the system that allows them to do this with such impunity), then flick them off for a handsome profit, and probably disappear with their pockets and bank accounts nicely full.

This clearly is not investment – this is speculation in its basic form, because as Paul says, they have ready finance and can tempt local owners with cash up front. There is no long-term commitment, which is what the term ‘investment’ implies.

There are even some Permanent Residents, who don’t live in Rarotonga fulltime anymore, who make money out of this sort of speculation.

They are familiar with what properties are around and can make tempting offers to local owners.

How many of these properties have been bought, done up, and put straight back on the market within a short period of time, purely for speculative personal gain, and with absolutely no benefit to the locals?

Clearly BTIB, MFEM and other agencies need to address how they deal with people of this nature.

Any speculative deals, for starters, should have massive capital gains tax imposed on sales of such properties before say a period of 10 years – that may be a reasonable ‘investment’ period.

You want to invest in the Cook Islands? Yes, you are welcome, but these are the criteria you need to be aware of.

One final point. Paul may have omitted to mention that as properties are onsold for a higher market price, most probably to other manuiri, this not only causes inflation of property values, but also with each step, makes exclusion of locals in these sorts of deals more and more likely – they are simply priced out of their own marketplace.

Surely it is time to seriously address these issues, as otherwise Cook Islanders will soon find themselves strangers in their own land, and the Koutu Nui looking at the proposed Avana Point development is a good start.

            Investment Not Speculation

            (Name and address supplied)

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