Government will now have less representation on the board of Financial Services Development Authority.
This is after Parliament passed the Financial Services Development Authority Amendment Act.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said the key purpose of the amendment was to change the composition of the board.
Brown said this was recommended at the authority’s forum, held in February last year, to look into the broader future of the sector.
He said the outcome of that forum was that the financial sector was still relevant and very important to the Cook Islands economy.
“One of the recommendations from the forum was that the board have a greater representation from the industry members and to reduce government membership on the board,” Brown said.
“As consequence this bill really seeks to change the board composition by having one person appointed by the Minister who will serve as the chair of the board.
“There will be two persons appointed through election by the trustee companies association, and there will be one person appointed by the majority of finance licensing holders. The fifth member will be the chief executive officer of the Financial Service Development Authority.”
Stepping down from the board are the government representatives – the financial secretary and the chief executive of the Financial Supervisory Commission – who are the regulator of the industry.
Tina Browne, the Opposition Democratic Party leader, said her party supported the amendments.
She was confident in the suggestion from Mark Brown that the Financial Services Development Authority may have a life after the next Budget.
“We might recall in the previous budget there were a few agencies that government felt that perhaps it was coming to its expiry date and of course the Pearl Authority was one of them. The Financial Service Development Authority was just given a lifeline to see how they will continue until the next Budget,” Browne said.
“Even though the bill is largely to address the composition of the board, I’m pleased it suggests to me that we might still be keen to continue with FSDA which is more important now as we look to diversify.”
Mark Brown agreed, saying the financial services sector would now play a key role in the economy.
The other bills that were passed include the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit Amendment Bill and the Customs Amendment Bill.
Brown said the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit Amendment Bill would modernise its functions.
The Customs Amendment Bill included some changes in line with Cook Islands ratification to the Pacer Plus agreement. Pacer Plus is a regional agreement which includes Australia and New Zealand, for closer economies relations. This relations include trade of goods and services.