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Budget takes centre stage

Monday 17 June 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Parliament

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Budget takes centre stage
Parliament of the Cook Islands. Photo: SUPPLIED 23090623

This week’s Parliament Sitting, which begins today and is expected to run for five days, will focus on the 2024-2025 National Budget.

Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere confirmed that the current session of Parliament will adjourn once the Budget is passed.

The Appropriation Bill 2024/25 was tabled in Parliament last month by the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mark Brown, allocating a proposed budget of $328 million for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

It was referred to the Public Accounts Committee for consideration and reporting.

The Committee of four Government MPs – after three Opposition MPs resigned due to the appointment of a new member to replace former chair Minister Tingika Elikana – will table a report today after reviewing the Appropriation Bill 2024/25.

Themed “perseverance”, the Budget aims to support the most vulnerable. Funds are allocated for caregivers, for patient referrals, and supporting non-government organisations as well as minimum wage increase.

This includes $1.3 million over four years for an increase in minimum wage and $3.2m over four years to cover welfare beneficiaries.

Patient referrals are expected to receive an annual increase of $1m to reflect actual expenditure. And from 2025/26 Te Marae Ora/Ministry of Health will receive an additional $1m to address recruitment and retention challenges.

Teacher salaries will receive a phased increase of $410,828 from 2024/25 to 2025/26. Finance personnel will be allocated a total of $400,000 for 2024/25 and 2025/26 to strengthen tax collection and compliance.

The 60th Te Maeva Nui celebration to be held next year has a proposed allocation of $2.5m for transportation enabling Pa Enua residents to attend the celebration.

Government has also appropriated $9.8m over four years to establish a domestic shipping service.

The proposed budget also focuses on infrastructure investments which include roads, Manihiki Airport upgrades, and the Aitutaki’s water project.