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Band-Aid on Band-Aid strategy: Crocombe

Saturday 4 June 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, National


Band-Aid on Band-Aid strategy: Crocombe
The Rarotongan managing director Tata Crocombe. PHOTO: CI NEWS/20032050

Rarotongan Beach Resort owner-operator Tata Crocombe has described the Fiji Labour Movement Airfare Support initiative as a band-aid on band-aid strategy.

He said the Fiji Labour Movement Airfare Support initiative was “as yet another short term, PR driven ‘Band Aid’ policy, responding to a handful of politically connected players in the accommodation sector that ignores the real issues as to why locals and foreigners alike are leaving the Cook Islands”.

“At the heart of the issue is that while the Cook Islands minimum wage is at $8 per hour, and the New Zealand minimum wage is at $21 per hour, the majority of people, both locals and foreigners, will leave over time. This has been the case for last 50 years of self-government,” Crocombe said.

However, Crocombe said for the Cook Islands to be able to phase in a $21 hr. minimum wage across the entire private and public sectors over five years, the Government would need to:

  1. Double tourism arrivals to fund this growth in wages and salaries.
  2. Develop its own Cook Islands airline servicing Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney, Nadi, Papeete and Los Angeles.
  3. Reduce the numbers of public servants by half while increasing Public Service wages and salaries to New Zealand levels for the same job, qualifications, experience and actual performance.
  4. Expand the scope of Cook Islands National Superannuation to cover:
    1. Unemployment
    1. Medical
    1. Education
    1. First mortgage finance particularly for first home buyers
  5. Reduce interest rates, particularly for first time home buyers and builders by:
    1. Bringing back onshore the hundreds of millions of dollars now offshore in the Cook Islands Superannuation Fund.
    1. Integrating the Cook Islands banking system into the New Zealand banking system to so that interest rates in the Cook Islands are similar to New Zealand instead of vastly higher.
  6. Harmonise with New Zealand standards of:
    1. Health
    1. Education
    1. Infrastructure

“Otherwise the current strategy of Band-Aid on Band-Aid will see Cook Islanders become a minority in the Cook Islands in the coming decades,” Crocombe said.