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Economy positive, strong signs of recovery: PM Brown

Thursday 22 February 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Parliament


Economy positive, strong signs of recovery: PM Brown
Prime Minister Mark Brown. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 24021952

Prime Minister Mark Brown says the country’s latest financial year report to June 2023 shows the country’s economy is very positive and showing signs of strong recovery.

Brown, who is also the Minister for Finance, speaking in Parliament on Monday, highlighted the continued and significant progress that the government has made in its response to the Covid pandemic as they continue to focus their efforts towards economic recovery and fiscal responsibility and supporting the needs of the people.

On the economic front, Brown said: “The latest financial year report to June 2023 showed that the Cook Islands economy is very positive and showing signs of strong recovery and this can be seen through the businesses and the general activities on the island.

“Our economy grew by 13.3% in real terms in the year to June last year. The economic forecast shows we will be back at the level we were at in 2019 by the end of this financial year.”

He said the strong growth and continued positive outlook are not just something the government believes in but also reported in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Pacific Economic Monitor forecasted in December, that Cook Islands economy would grow by another 9.1 per cent.

He said this showed the confidence that one of Cook Islands key development partners have on the country’s economic recovery.

Looking at tourism as the key industry in the economy, Brown said the 2023 calendar year showed there were over 143, 000 of tourists welcomed and this was an incredible recovery and is an early sign for 2024 showing that those visitor numbers will exceed again, towards 160,000 this year.

He said this was made possible with the important investment made by the government through improving airline connectivity through the airline route development programme or airline subsidy programme to support tourism and other sectors of the Cook Islands economy.

According to the migration statistics from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) the total number of arrivals for last month was 12,002. 10,368 of these were visitors and 1,634 were returning Cook Islanders and work permit holders.

MFEM stats shows that January saw a 21.9 per cent decrease in visitor arrivals compared to December of 2023. New Zealand continues to dominate the number of visitor arrivals with 66 per cent, Australia 19.0 per cent and Europe 6.9 per cent.

Looking at revenue, Brown said he can confirm that there will be no changes to the government's revenue strategies for the financial year.

“But there have been positive adjustments in the revenue forecast for this period. With an increase of $5.6m particularly in the form of tax receipts, a significant portion comes in the form of the VAT paid by visiting tourists to our shores, this is an example of our economy and the multiplier effect at work.

“This also includes some increased revenue from the higher incomes that our workers are experiencing as demand and cost of labour is at an all-time high.”

He added that this boost in revenue is a sign of Cook Islands thriving tourism sector and the recovering economy across the board.